'Unusual' family shaped values

'Unusual' family shaped values
More than nine in 10 Singaporeans accept colleagues and neighbours of a different race but fewer are willing to marry or welcome an in-law of another race. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

I could not help but smile when I read the article ("Colleagues of another race OK, but not spouses: Survey"; Sept 12).

According to the survey by the Institute of Policy Studies and racial harmony advocacy group OnePeople.sg, Singaporeans are quite happy to deal with people of another race in the public sphere like the workplace, but are less so when it concerns more private and personal issues like marriage and family.

In that sense, I come from an "unusual" family and the values I gained from it have helped me get along in life.

Both my parents remarried Caucasians and had children with them. So I grew up in a household where the "family" consisted of people of different races.

My parents never had an issue when either I or my siblings dated someone of a different race or took up a different religion. You could say that I was brought up in an environment where the values reflected in our national pledge were lived.

I never really appreciated my family background until I started working. While I won't describe my working life as a glorious one, the few successes I've enjoyed have resulted from dealing with people of a different race.

In 2006, I worked for the Saudi Embassy in Singapore and gained entry to the Istana for the first time in my life.

Last year, I worked for the Indian Institute of Technology alumni and had the chance to interact with some of the most prominent names in Indian industry. At this year's Indian Institute of Management alumni event, I had the chance to engage a former president.

These were the result of working hard at dealing with people from a different culture. We found common ground and friendships developed. One of my Indian national friends would even find ways of passing me work whenever I was broke.

When you experience kindness like this, you tend to overlook factors like race or religion. Such kindness touches you on a personal level.

I suppose you could say that it is a good sign that we are willing to accept colleagues of a different race. It's a start.

Work with people and remember the kindness shown, and who knows? We may reach a stage where spouses of a different race are accepted as normal.

Tang Li, Reader


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