National language can boost racial harmony

I agree with Professor Kishore Mahbubani that Singaporeans should learn to speak the national language ("Big Idea No. 5: Speak the National Language"; June 14)

I am a 66-year-old baby boomer. I have had many friends and colleagues of different races. We worked together, hung out together, played together and visited one another's homes during the different festivals. We were a truly multiracial society.

But my son, who is in his 30s, has fewer friends of other races and he hardly visits them during their festivals.

The Government today is doing more, not less, to promote religious and racial harmony. So I am puzzled by the change.

There is a need for thorough soul-searching and to get to the root cause. Something seems to have gone wrong in the last 50 years.

Social engineering and public campaigns are not the way to go. We need to go back to basics and start in schools. We may want to re-introduce national language lessons.

The people of my parents' generation were immigrants, but could speak a common language. Maybe that kept them together. English, one of our official languages, is not as widely used as we would like it to be.

Ajit Singh Nagpal

This article was first published on June 17, 2014.
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