Last Sunday I spent some time on the beach in Singapore and noticed a laughing group of young people taking pictures of each other. One girl in small bikinis was posing to the camera, being photographed by another girl – wearing a burkha.
I’m too new to Singapore to try and make any expert comments on its integration and cultural policies. Yet it’s obvious that something is right in here, when two girls of such obviously different cultural / religious up-bringings feel so utterly comfortable with each other.
Has Singapore succeeded in finding the way for universal acceptance of one another? Singapore is known for boosting cultural tolerance and for strict measures against racial or religious discrimination. Buildings have quotas for people from different religions and cultural backgrounds, to avoid buildings or full neighborhoods being inhabited by one majority group only. Headscarves are an option for school and work uniforms and all major religions’ most important holidays are celebrated and declared for public holidays.
Certainly there are some underlying tensions, intolerance and even racism. But judging by the appearance on the streets, Singapore seems to have found an admirable level of unity and acceptance. What those 2 girls and their friends on the beach can teach us, is that it’s okay for you to do things your way and for me my way. We can still be friends.