PM Lee warns of new fault lines in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong once again called for new and old citizens to work together to maintain social stability.

He was speaking at a Racial Harmony Day celebration in his Teck Ghee ward yesterday, The Straits Times reported.

The fresh call comes amid rising unhappiness among some Singaporeans who feel that new immigrants are competing for their jobs and homes.

Mr Lee highlighted rising tensions between older citizens and new immigrants, a hot-button issue that has dominated political and social debate in recent months.

'The new arrivals should embrace the Singapore values and norms, and try to fit in as Singaporeans; Singaporeans can encourage the new ones to integrate, and help the new ones to fit in,' said Mr Lee, as he urged both new and old citizens to adjust to one another.

He also warned that race and religion remained fault lines that could tear society apart when it comes under pressure, such as after a terrorist attack.

Mr Lee stressed that the community had to do its part, such as by sharing common spaces, and to be psychologically comfortable with one another.

He shared a story of  how a Malay throwing a birthday party and a Chinese family holding a funeral wake worked out an arrangement to share void deck space, and the issue was solved quickly and easily.

He added that such attitudes were needed to preserve social harmony, as were people's efforts to learn more about one another's faith and culture.

candicec@sph.com.sg

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