SINGAPORE: There is room to increase interaction between Singaporeans and new citizens to help them understand each other better, said Chua Chu Kang MP Zaqy Mohamad.
Speaking on the sidelines of the BIG Farm Walk & Run on Sunday (Oct 16), Mr Zaqy said more awareness programmes are needed to facilitate bonding opportunities, given Singapore’s diverse population.
The annual Chua Chu Kang and Hong Kah North event aims to promote neighbourliness. For the first time, it organised a team race called the Sunflower Race which paired up local Singaporeans and new immigrants.
"I think most times we need to get to a common space. That facilitates a lot of bonding interactions, because many of us also come from different backgrounds, different races, different beliefs,” Mr Zaqy said.
“When you understand others better, it also helps us empathise with some of the situations they face."
Other than large-scale events, Mr Zaqy said efforts have also been made in his constituency to bring neighbours of different backgrounds together, such as breakfast sessions and community gardening.
He added that the main concern for new immigrants was the lack of understanding of the local culture.
"There's always friction from time to time but I think that's where community leaders, that's our role to try to manage that, and hopefully bring some understanding and awareness to the parties involved."
Participants at the starting line of the BIG Farm Walk & Run. (Photo: Joseph Jeremiah Jacop David)
About 5,000 people took part in the BIG Farm Walk & Run, of which 20 per cent were new immigrants. The event included walking trails and non-competitive runs for families.
Mr Manavalan Karthikeyan, a permanent resident in Singapore since 2006, said it was the first time he and his family took part in the event.
"We saw a lot of friends, neighbours. We've actually never met them, but in the group we saw them and said: ‘Hey how are you?’ It's like attending a function in your hometown."