There’s strength in diversity: President Halimah
President Halimah calls for more collaboration between Singapore, Philippines
Both Singapore and the Philippines are diverse societies, and this diversity can be a source of strength, said President Halimah Yacob yesterday.
She was speaking at a media wrap-up session to conclude her first five-day state visit to the Philippines. The visit also marks the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Madam Halimah said: "I'm a big champion of diversity. I cannot imagine a Singapore that is not diverse. If we look at Singapore and the Philippines, (both) are diverse.
"Even if you are a homogeneous society, you need to deal with the outside world. Today, it is a globalised world and dealing with the world means dealing with diverse people. Your own experience tells you how you can manage this process."
She added that diversity teaches societies the values of tolerance, magnanimity and understanding.
"When you have a neighbour of a different race or religion, there is a process of accommodation. It helps you build understanding, makes you a better human being and makes the whole society better."
STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY
Madam Halimah noted: "There is a strength in diversity and I hope it is something we see globally - that people see it as a value that they appreciate and they want to have. That will make a difference in this world."
On Wednesday, she had a dialogue with about 50 young people at Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City. The dialogue provided a bilateral platform to discuss issues, she said, adding that this format can be replicated in other Asean countries.
She added that concrete action is also necessary to build inter-religious cohesion.
Madam Halimah also met more than 20 young participants from Faiths@Work, a regional network of people of different religions who do good work, such as helping a village in Manila get access to clean water.
She: "When we talk about interfaith harmony and understanding, it is not just a question of talking to each other, but having such tangible projects that cut across all barriers."
Singapore and Philippine businesses can also collaborate in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, retail and digitalisation, she said.
Madam Halimah brought up Adera, a Singapore fintech company partnering a Philippine company to develop e-payment solutions for jeepneys, a mode of public transport in the Philippines. Both countries can also look for collaboration opportunities in agriculture, she added.
On Monday, Madam Halimah and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the exchange of eight agreements between the countries' agencies.
She said: "It is all about bringing quality products and services and supporting both countries. We are Asean neighbours, so as both countries progress, people also progress and the quality of life improves."