01 Jul 2019
We live in a diverse world. But managing diversity is not easy.
Globalisation and technology might have closed the distance between people and places, but people still instinctively bond and connect with those who think and speak like them, or those who share the same customs and beliefs.
The ease of the flow of ideas facilitated by advances in information technology has inadvertently accelerated the spread of extremist ideologies.
Global mass migration of peoples has also created its own challenges by fuelling both segregationist and nativist instincts.
A nation cannot prosper if its people are divided.
As one of the most religiously diverse societies in the world, and having experienced racial and religious riots in the 1950s and 1960s, forging unity and drawing strength from diversity has always been, and will continue to be, part of the Singapore story.
In Singapore, we work hard to ensure that no one is discriminated or disadvantaged on the basis of race, language or religion.
We achieve this through deliberate legislation, policies and programmes such as the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act.
We’ve also expanded common spaces so that all Singaporeans can live, study and work together.
We are not doing too badly – a recent survey showed that 94% of respondents feel that Singaporeans are able to stay united even when events threaten the racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
Building an inclusive and cohesive society is always a work in progress and we believe that there is much that states can learn from each other.
That is why Singapore hosted the inaugural International Conference on Cohesive Societies in June 2019 with the theme “Many Communities, One Shared Future”.
About 1,000 participants from 40 countries, including youth, attended this Conference.
The Conference sought new perspectives and insights on how different countries and societies manage diversity.
Our President Madam Halimah Yacob and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan were the keynote speakers of this Conference.
We hope that the Council can do more to share good practices on the promotion of social cohesion and inclusive societies.
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