Singapore is a multiracial and multireligious country. We have heard that line so often. But does it really mean anything especially relations between the different races? How strong are these relations? More importantly, will it withstand any troubles or problems which may, and can, happen?

I’ve been pondering these questions for quite sometime now. I see it mostly like how most ordinary Singaporeans see it, which is, from a layman’s point of view. Call me a pessimist but I think racial relations here are quite superficial and needs much more strengthening and go deeper then what we have today.

I say this ‘cos I’m more worried about the undercurrent than what’s on the surface. There have been many a times when I’ve heard remarks like these in the HDB heartlands in which about 90% of us live: the Chinese are always about money with no scruples and they’re mostly assured of good jobs here because they’re in the majority; Indians are just drunkards, loud and troublemakers; Malays are lazy, drug addicts, have too many children, etc, etc. My god its endless. And extremely disturbing.

We need to have frank and open discussions and interactions between the races about racial and religious issues AND be mature about it so it doesn’t degenerate into name calling, stereotyping or even violence and mayhem. And I mean ordinary folks like us. Those who sit around in coffeeshops, go to the wet markets or supermarkets, go to work or studies and come back home dead friggin tired, etc, etc. And I think we, as a people, can do that. Let’s start slowly if we must but start somewhere.

1964 Racial Riots

We can’t keep holding back (or kept holding back) because of what happened in 1950 and 1964. Surely they can be lessons but we can’t let them be albatrosses around our necks weighing us down forever.