SINGAPORE: The Malayalee community has shown how Singapore can turn diversity into its strength, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (Sep 29).
Speaking at a gala dinner to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Singapore Malayalee Association, Mr Lee said that one of the reasons behind the Malayalee community's success is its embracing of diversity.
"In many countries, exclusivity and extremism are growing, and breeding racial and religious distrust. Singapore is not immune to these diseases of the spirit. But we can protect and strengthen our multicultural system to make our society more resilient against such external pressures,” he said.
“The Malayalee community has shown how we can turn diversity into our strength. Singapore needs to do the same on a national level, with our different races and religions."
While small in size – there are just 26,000 Malayalees in Singapore – the community has contributed significantly to Singapore’s development, Mr Lee said.
He named former President Devan Nair, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon as some of the outstanding Malayalees in Singapore. There are also three Malayalees in Parliament currently: Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary, and MPs Vikram Nair and Murali Pillai.
The Singapore Malayalee Association on Friday night also paid tribute to other outstanding members of its community, including poet and social activist M K Bhasi, dance pioneer Santha Bhaskar and ambassador Gopinath Pillai.
To mark its centenary, the association will set up a $1 million financial aid fund for needy students as well as a wellness centre for the elderly.