SINGAPORE - Singaporeans should take a keen interest in each other's cultures and this is one way to deepen Singapore's identity and culture, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday (Feb 10).
Singapore also needs to intensify efforts to integrate new immigrants into society and make sure that its culture of contributing back to community and country remains strong for future generations, said Mr Tharman.
Together, these are three important priorities in evolving Singaporean culture, he said at an annual Chinese New Year reception organised by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), Business China and the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.
One key aspect of the Singapore identity is multi-racialism, Mr Tharman said, as seen in how "it is normal for an Indian minister to be the guest of honour for this event".
He added: "It's normal, not a novelty or something very unusual."
But deepening multi-racialism does not mean diluting cultural identities or fusing everything into one culture, he said. This would result in a weak and confused culture which would not be good for Singapore.
He also encouraged Singaporeans of all races to take a keen interest in each other's cultures and wherever possible, participate in them.
It is also important to assimilate the first generation of immigrants in Singapore today, he said.
Lastly, Mr Tharman encouraged the spirit of contributing back to one's community and country. He said that it would be worrying if the next generation of Singaporeans did not have the instinctive culture of wanting to contribute back when they did well.
At the event, Mr Tharman also delivered some Chinese New Year greetings in Mandarin, received oranges and handed a red packet to a child - traditional Chinese practices which all drew applause from the audience.
Also attending the event were Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, Acting Education Ministers Ng Chee Meng and Ong Ye Kung, as well as several other office holders and MPs.
SFCCA president Chua Thian Poh said in his speech that the association would recruit more youth ambassadors to promote the Singaporean Chinese culture.