Heng Swee Keat’s tolerance call timely

I applaud Education Minister Heng Swee Keat’s call for open acceptance, or at least measured tolerance, of a multifaceted Singapore society (“Reach out beyond main races here”; Tuesday).

One cannot ignore the fact that our city-state will only grow more diverse and more engaged with the world as we strive to maintain our competitive edge.

Lest foreign talent and investors are spooked, we should heed the call for an open mindset that better ties in with our First World economy status.

Several recent events have created a black mark on Singapore’s record of harmony and inclusiveness.

The Wear White campaign, the National Library Board controversy and a blog post targeting the Filipino community here point to rising intolerance for anything that is different from how we want our community to be portrayed.

The ensuing online invective and chatroom comments filled with radical religiosity were alarming, to say the least.

If we do not take pre-emptive action to legislate against hate crime or fanatical religiosity, we may see individuals and organisations with vested interests becoming more emboldened. Their aim is to systematically and unilaterally destroy the secular and moderate community that our forefathers painstakingly built.

Mr Heng’s reminder to be open-minded is timely. We cannot take our current peace for granted.

Karen Chan Kern (Mrs)

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