By Ravi Philemon
As some research shows that besides other benefits, holidays have positive impacts on the social life of people, I am for the idea of having more gazetted public holidays in Singapore.
Having lived overseas for a number of years in the past, I am aware that besides the gazetted national public holidays, there are regional and state holidays which citizens of such countries living in that particular state or region enjoy, over and above the gazetted national holidays. As Singapore is a city-State, its citizens enjoy no such privilege.
I however appreciate the Manpower Ministry’s chronicling of how considering the socio-economic status of Singapore in 1968, the religious leaders were able to forego the public holiday status of some of their celebrations.
While acknowledging the selflessness of these religious leaders, the Government should also not forget the promise it made to Singaporeans at the time of reducing the number of public holidays.
The Government had then said that when Singapore prospered, it will move amendments to increase the number of holidays. It also urged Singaporeans to work hard to show that they deserved more holidays.
Today, Singaporeans work one of the longest hours in the world. If we use GDP as a measure, our country has certainly prospered to be counted among the first-world countries. It is therefore important for the Government to keep its promise and increase the number of holidays.
In 1968, at a time when there were no platforms like the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC), the religious leaders of Singapore were mature and able to consider the larger interest of Singapore, and with much difficulty, give up something of value to each of them.
Today, with better structures for sharing and exchange between the leaders of the various religions and races, I am certain that these leaders will be able to be altruistic and, considering the well-being of all Singaporeans, come to a consensus as to which other day should be gazetted by the Government as a public holiday.
The Government of Singapore should keep its promise, announce that it intends to gazette at least one more day as a public holiday and ask the IRCC to recommend a day for its consideration.