The Idea of Singapore- a beacon for multiculturalism and governance

In the run up to the General Elections out here in ‘Tiny Red Dot’ Singapore, there has been a voracious dialogue over everything from Public Housing to Defence Budget cuts. The question also raised in this election also addresses a fundamental issue- what makes the idea of a Singapore and the conceptual fabric of a Singaporean as a nationality and an identity. Being a proverbial ‘Global Nomad’ with my upbringing in the Middle East and India, my mental geographies are quite diverse, and I am a self confessed Singapuraphile… Multi cultural societies will be the norm in the future, with White Europe and America aging and with burgeoning populations  in Africa, Middle East and South and South East Asia, a new social contract needs to be designed for social capital generation and stability… Society is about people, its about you and me!

Every Multi cultural society has a period of churning and volatility, India is the most ethnically diverse region in the world, yet India’s diversity is both its strength and weakness, and the country is a model to its own… Singapore has unique challenges which are dealt in unique Singaporean ways. The Idea of Singapore is special, its unique and has worked successfully to be a case study in Urban Asian Governance in Public Policy Schools the world over. Multiculturalism is about respecting each others cultures and work towards a common objective.

Malaysia has recently tried to enact a multi racial perspective through its 1Malaysia campaign, but with the Sarawak elections and the Ruling Alliance losing Chinese support, there have been cries for the Alliance to backtrack on its Satu Malaysia slogan to Satu Bumi or Malays for Malaysia only campaign. Democracies are not the best instruments to maintain social stability especially when there are fractured mandates. The riots of 1969 are still fresh in the psyche of the previous generation.  The rise of the far right in European elections is a sign of discontentment over multiracial integration. Dave Cameron has commented that Britain has had a failed multi racial  experiment.  Pragmatism and the larger societal framework has to be merged in policy design… Affirmative action is effective, but it also creates social fissures, meritocratic policies are always the best way forward…

A question of ideology is always a work in progress, a fluid mosaic which has to be crafted carefully, otherwise the good work can be dismantled in no time.


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