Close to 200 people turned up for the Second YSA “Ministerial Dialogue” with Mr George Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on “Bringing Everyone On Board; Taking Singapore Forward”. The event was held at Meritus Mandarin on 30 June 2007.

During the session, Mr Yeo spoke about “the challenges faced by a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. While we place great store on the national effort to promote harmony, in reality, there are always tensions in daily life. With globalisation, human beings are travelling as never before. In Singapore, new Chinese and new Indians lack some of the instincts for racial harmony which [the] local-born have, but have other strengths. To a greater or lesser degree, all cities are confronting similar new challenges.” He added that, “Cities which find ways to manage the new diversity will attract more talent and become more international. They will be better able to seize new opportunities. In a sense, Singapore’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious character gives us an advantage because we learn from young to live with diversity. We are able to switch channels depending on whom we are dealing with, often sub-consciously.” On the future, Mr Yeo stated that, “In the coming years, like countries, cities and companies, some ethnic and religious communities will do better than others in a new age of globalisation. The Punjabis will do well because they are used to living among others all over the world. The ease with which they network globally will give them an advantage.”

All said and done, it was an ideal opportunity for the participants to share their views, and concerns. During the lively and interesting question and answer session,  the participants touched on such issues as religion and politics, fundamentalism and terrorism, communal bonding and race issues, economic inequality and catering to the needy in our midst, meeting the demands of globalisation, and dealing with discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices. It was a frank, open and candid session.

YSA launched the “Ministerial Dialogue” in November 2004 to enable young Singaporeans in particular and Singaporeans at large to gain a further understanding of local, regional and global issues and developments.

The first dialogue session was with Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, on “Creating Our Future: Changing Perspectives, Changing Mindsets”.

Some Views…

It was a really interesting session. It provided an opportunity for me to understand the concerns of Singaporeans. All of us have concerns and we were able to share them here today.
– Prema

Wow! What an interesting session! I really enjoyed the question and answer session. Minister was very sincere in his response and I think everyone appreciated it.
– Sharanjeet

It is good to see people from different background and ethnicity come together to discuss issues of mutual concerns. We not only become aware of the issues faced by other races, but we also build a bond as we share the same issues and concerns.
– Mohammad Syaiful

I think it is great that our ministers take the time and effort to have dialogues with the people on the street. It is very important for us to understand how we fit into the scheme of things as Singapore pushes forward.
– Kulvinder Singh

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