“Singaporeans should focus on being Singaporean and not their race.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

by Ang Shi En (S4 2021)
        On 15 March, a 16-year-old Singaporean boy was detained by the ISA for planning a terrorist attack on two mosques, Assyafaah mosque in Sembawang and Yussof of Ishak mosque in Woodlands. He watched the live streamed video of the terrorist attack on the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and read the manifesto of the attacker. He also watched Islamic state in Iraq and Syria propaganda video and came to the erroneous conclusion that ISIS represented Islam, and that Islam called on its followers to kill non-believers, said the ISD. He was influenced by ISIS to attack the mosque and he felt that it was a “justifiable killing of Muslims”. This has started a conversation about racial religion and national unity in Singapore and what should be prohibited. In this essay, I will argue that Singaporeans should focus on being Singaporeans to a large extent.
       Singaporean should focus on being Singaporeans in an educational setting as race does not matter. The teacher’s knowledge is more important than the race of the teacher. Instead of caring so much about other races, we should care more about their capabilities and skills to teach or to increase students’ knowledge. People do not care about the teacher’s race in reality, as they are more concerned about their children’s grades and scores based on what you have taught them. Race does not matter when it comes to whether you have the skills. For example, when you enrol in a tuition centre, you would not question the teacher’s race Instead, you enquire about the teacher’s qualifications or their track record. Hence, Singaporeans should focus on being Singaporeans rather than focusing on individual races in an educational setting as skills are what matters the most.
       Secondly, Singaporeans should focus on being Singaporeans because in day-to-day interactions, race does not matter. The race of the driver of the public transport that you take every day is not important and what is important is the driving skills they have to pick every passenger from each bus station to their destination. People would not be bothered that they are in contact with other races, but would be bothered if they did not do their job properly. In Singapore, there is a diversity of people. In day-to-day interactions in Singapore you interact with different races. We should not judge others according to their race but their capability to do things. For example, when you go to a store to buy things, you usually buy the product or services when they meet their intended purpose. Hence Singaporeans should focus on being Singaporeans in their day-to-day interaction as the product or services sought are more important.
       However, we should focus on individual races to preserve their cultures and heritage. There are different races living in Singapore, which means cultures and traditions will disappear. For example, celebrating Chinese New Year annually ensures that traditions of visiting and giving red packets carry on. If we ignore these celebrations, the customs will die out. Hence, we should focus on individual races so as to not let our traditions and culture vanish.
       In spite of that, focusing on individual races to preserve culture and heritage might result in only preserving the majority race. This is because the majority race would want to preserve their traditions and culture, and as such minority races would not have enough space or place to preserve their traditions and cultures. For example, hawker centres may be overflowing with Chinese food to appeal to the large number of Chinese in Singapore. Hence, we should focus on being Singaporeans instead of individual races.
       In conclusion, Singaporeans should focus on being Singaporeans as we should be united as one rather than seeing each other as defined by our races. We will meet a range of people from other races in the educational setting and day to day interaction. Focusing too much on race will create a big rift between races and there will be conflict. Instead, focusing on being Singaporeans will ensure harmony as everyone will be equal with one another. Therefore, Singaporeans should focus on being Singaporeans to ensure unity.
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