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Grace Fu, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said in a statement: “Over the last 50 years, we have built a Singapore where every citizen matters, regardless of race, language or religion. This has been our fundamental approach to nation-building and will continue to guide us into the future. Signing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) further entrenches our commitment to this end, to unequivocally show that racial discrimination has no place in Singapore.”We can see the importance of racial harmony from this pledge. The only and main reason why we are still standing strong is because our ability to live and work harmoniously for Singapore’s future. Each race in Singapore is encouraged to maintain its own uniqueness and distinctiveness while co-existing with one another. Secondly, the formation of organisations like the Inter-religious Organisation (IRO) and Community Development Councils (CDCs) have played an important role to ensure that racial harmony is preserved in Singapore.The IRO composes religious leaders of the nine major religions of Singapore (Hindu, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Baha’i Faith) to promote inter-faith understanding and harmony in Singapore. It conducts seminars and public talks on the common beliefs that underlie all our religions and how they contribute to peace and harmony in Singapore. The IRO is also involved in welfare service projects for the needy and elderly regardless of race or religion. There is also the Religious Harmony Bill which ensures that religious activities do not cause inter-ethnic tensions. The CDCs were formed in 1997 to promote social cohesion and strengthen community bonding in the various districts. They organise many interesting activities such as family outings, sports carnivals, job fairs and cultural performances for residents to interact and bond together. CDCs also organise home stay/ home visit programme in which children spend the day with families of other races, share a meal with them and visit cultural and religious places in order to get to understand the various practices and cultures. This programme gives children the opportunity to experience first-hand the lifestyle of another ethnic group.Thirdly, the government’s initiative to promote racial harmony is the “Singapore 21”.  The logo of “Singapore 21” shows four figures holding hands represent Singaporeans of all races in unity, sharing a common Singapore vision and living and working together in Singapore. The key messages that help promote racial harmony are that each one of us is unique and can contribute to Singapore’s success, regardless of who we are and every citizen has the opportunity to develop his/her full potential, regardless of his/her background.Among many government’s initiatives to promote racial harmony is the Housing and Development Board (HDB). More than 80 % of Singaporeans live in HDB flats. Living in multi-racial housing estates allows different racial groups to interact with and understand one another better. However, we also have seen and read that this may also increase the likelihood of friction between different races. Hence, residents have to learn to tolerate differences and accept other races.From the above few examples, Singapore has done well in addressing racial and religious discrimination to certain extent where the residents live and work together peacefully for the past five decades, A survey on Racial and Religious Harmony conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies in 2013 showed that approximately 80% of Singaporeans are open to building close relations with people of another race or religion. However, the same study also revealed that 40% of Singaporeans are of the opinion that racial tensions have yet to be eliminated, and 31% of Singaporeans have had experienced unpleasant interactions with people of another racial group. In conclusion, there are still some traces of racism surface from time to time. Insensitive remarks or actions based on stereotypes about a certain race may cause offence, and social media magnifies both the effect and reach of the offence and the grievances of those who feel victimised. This inevitably leads us to question ourselves if Singapore has done enough in addressing racial and religious discrimination.

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