The People's Action Party (PAP) last night brought to life its pledge of multiculturalism at its first rally of this general election.
Its nine speakers reflected Singapore's diversity as they took the stage in the Tanjong Pagar homeground of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had from Singapore's early years sought to unite the different races.
They spoke in the four official languages, threw in a smattering of dialect and looked back on the nation's progress as one united people.
Pioneer generation leader Sidek Saniff recounted Mr Lee's efforts to rally the different races living together in an uncertain new nation.
"We merged because of communism, we split because of communalism," said Mr Sidek, 77, a former senior minister of state, in Malay.
Mr Lee, he recalled, sought to allay the fears of the Malays, still anxious over the abrupt split from Malaysia, where they had been the majority race. "(Mr Lee) said, 'This is not a Malay nation, this is not a Chinese nation, this is not an Indian nation'," said Mr Sidek.
"We are Singaporeans."
Mr Sidek said that to bind the fledgling nation together, Mr Lee decided that the different communities would live together, respecting one another.
And Mr Lee's efforts paid off, said Mr Sidek. The Malay community cast their lot with Singapore, even as then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman offered them the right to settle in Malaysia.
And when elections came, the Malays then supported the PAP and have been doing so till today, said Mr Sidek.
"This is an important phase. We must show that the Malays are still behind the PAP," he said.
This multiracialism will continue to be important. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in Malay: "To continue to succeed, we need a multiracial team of leaders who are capable and trustworthy."
Mr Chan Chun Sing, anchor minister for Tanjong Pagar GRC, switched easily between Malay, Mandarin and English when he took the stage.
"Tanjong Pagar GRC was built by our founding Prime Minister and our pioneer generation," he said. "As descendants, we must build upon this foundation for a better Singapore."
This article was first published on September 3, 2015.
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