SINGAPORE - My Eurasian wife and I were discussing the topical issue of racial harmony recently.
She was taken aback when I told her that if not for the circumstances, I could well have turned out to be a bigot harbouring thoughts about racial stereotypes, much less marry outside my race ("Race not an issue in Singapore, study finds"; last Friday).
The environment shapes who we are as a people.
In Singapore, the adoption of meritocracy since the founding of the nation started the removal of racial and other barriers to societal growth.
People of all races here learnt to work, live and thrive together.
Opportunities to interact abound, and the interracial comfort level increases.
Our leaders wisely laid the foundation for racial harmony by creating a positive environment for growth. It is therefore our duty to preserve and strengthen the system to continue to foster racial harmony.
Human dynamics play a part. We move and make friends within our social circle. The more racially diverse a social circle is, the more likely friendships will form across races.
For this to happen, education has to be the game-changer.
We should continue to provide opportunities for our young people of all races to excel in education.
As they climb the social ladder together, they will forge closer bonds among themselves - regardless of race and other differences.
One can truly be inspired by a friend of another race by increasing the depth of engagement.
This has to be a conscious effort as it will involve heart-to-heart talks, family visits and sharing mutual hobbies.
It is about digging into the soul of a friend and appreciating his perspective about life and the world.
While campaigns over the years on racial harmony have improved awareness of the issue and tolerance of differences, future campaigns should move up a level by promoting mutual admiration and reinforcement of values across races.
I know from personal experience that if this happens, we shall all be the richer for it.
- Yeoh Teng Kwong
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