Minister of National Development, Khaw Boon Wan, says Singaporeans should appreciate the inter-racial and inter-religious peace in the city-state.
“Against the many racial and religious conflicts elsewhere that we read about almost every day, the state of affairs here in Singapore is truly extraordinary,” he said. “We must treasure it.”
Mr Khaw was speaking at a National Citizenship ceremony in his Sembawang GRC constituency on Saturday, where 194 new citizens were given their citizenship.
Mr Khaw raised the example of Singapore’s pioneers who, he said, were “individuals putting society above self, and coming together to collectively build an endearing home for all.”
He said Singapore was “particularly proud” of its harmonious state of affairs between the different races and religions.
“We must certainly not take our peace and harmony for granted,” he said.
“And it requires every one of us to continue to preserve what’s important to us – our social harmony; mutual respect for one another; and graciousness when sharing common spaces.”
He also urged new Singapore citizens to help those who have newly-arrived to adapt to the local environment, to help them understand local customs and norms.
It was a message Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had as well, when he officiated at a similar ceremony at the Cheng San Community Club on the same day.
Mr Lee said new citizens should try and serve the community alongside Singaporeans, and he also encouraged them to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday next year with fellow citizens.
Mr Lee urged residents to help the new citizens fit in on a more personal level – by inviting them for community events and for meals at their homes.
A total of about 3,150 new citizens will be given their citizenships this weekend in ceremonies across the island.