SINGAPORE: Recent incidents of alleged racism "go against what we stand for in Singapore", said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Jun 7).
In a Facebook post, Mr Chan highlighted two incidents - one in which an Indian woman was allegedly attacked and insulted with a racial slur and another where a man allegedly directed racist remarks towards an interracial couple.
“Racial intolerance goes against our founding values as a nation and has no place in our society," Mr Chan said.
“Every one of us – parents, educators, individuals – plays a part in safeguarding the treasured and hard-earned legacy of racial harmony.
“Our diversity has always been our strength and we must never let it become our Achilles’ Heel," he added.
One in five citizen marriages are between couples of different races, Mr Chan noted.
“In Singapore, multi-racialism is not a concept, but our daily lived reality and source of pride. It is a constant work-in-progress, which we never take for granted nor will we ever give up.
“In 1965, we declared at the founding of Singapore that we would build a nation regardless of race, language or religion. This is what distinguishes us as a people, with diverse roots but a set of forward-looking shared values.”
National unity is “more important than ever” as Singapore faces the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Chan said.
“As we collectively navigate the unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19, there will inevitably be stresses and strains. It is now more important than ever, that we stand united as a community,” he said.
“With the disruptions to lives and livelihoods, service and care for others is what will get us through.
“These are undoubtedly tough times and how we rise to these challenges will define us as a society – I firmly believe that it can bring out the best in us.”
Mr Chan also called on Singaporeans to uphold the principles of racial harmony.
“Let us continue to treat one another with care and respect, regardless of race, language or religion,” he said.
READ: Shanmugam 'not so sure' Singapore moving in right direction on racial tolerance after man's racist remarks captured on video
Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam had earlier commented about the second incident after a video uploaded by a Mr Dave Parkash went viral online.
In the video, a man in a red polo shirt can be heard telling Mr Parkash and his girlfriend to date people of their "own race".
"I used to believe that Singapore was moving in the right direction on racial tolerance and harmony. Based on recent events, I am not so sure anymore," had said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Police said on Sunday that a 60-year-old man was assisting in investigations relating to the video.
Editor's note: Statistics in this article about the number of marriages between couples of different races have been amended after Mr Chan updated his Facebook post.