Singapore

Compromise on shared space key to racial harmony, Janil tells students

Compromising with each other within a shared space is key to maintaining racial harmony.

That was the message Senior Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary had for Anderson Secondary School students when he visited the school yesterday.

Dr Janil, who was there to mark Racial Harmony Day, watched a skit depicting the rituals involved in a Malay wedding ceremony, which highlighted themes such as social cohesion. He also took part in a dialogue with about 20 students, who raised issues such as racial stereotypes and the acceptable limits of race jokes.

Their questions, Dr Janil said, were "challenging and probing".

For instance, Sec 4 student Manuella Marie Pereira said some schools offer only Chinese as a mother tongue language.

She asked whether this might reduce inter-racial interaction as non-Chinese students may be reluctant to enrol in such schools.

Dr Janil, who replied to her question after clarifying if she was referring to Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools, said: "It is important for us, as a Chinese-majority country, that the Chinese-majority have the comfort and confidence that Mandarin is being supported and enhanced."

UNDERLYING ISSUES

He asked if any underlying race issues would be resolved if there were no more SAP schools.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Dr Janil said concerns over racial harmony have evolved and are no longer linked to the "security and safety issues of the 1960s".

He said: "The young people of today want increasing harmony, not just tolerance. They want a deeper acceptance and deeper personal friendships across different races."

The theme for this year's Racial Harmony Day is the Singapore Way, and the focus is on embracing diversity and how it can be a way of life.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling was in Tampines Primary School, where the students staged a forum theatre show. Five Primary 5 pupils acted out scenes depicting potential causes for disharmony.

Pupils in the audience then offered solutions to the problems.

Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann launched an art exhibition, titled Faith, Hope, Love - a Canossian Art Unites Exhibition, at the Visual Arts Centre in Dhoby Ghaut.

Race & ReligionSecondary SchoolTampines