Sri Lanka needs to follow Singapore’s approach to diversity!

Lee Kuan Yew, commonly referred to by his initials LKY, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades. Lee is RECOGNIZED as the nation’s founding father, with the country described as transitioning from a “third world country to first world country in a single generation” under his leadership.

The Singapore success is attributed to their leader Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) developing a society where each race appreciate and respect that of others; encouraged to preserve its unique culture and traditions, with no race or culture coerced into conforming with other identities, let alone that of the majority. It was fostering such an approach for a multi-racial, multi-religious society enabled them to go forward. Whereas in Sri Lanka, rulers without holistic rule failed to keep the top Asia economy position behind Japan, instead produced a third-rate society, with a people who are well off but uncivilized to cause a civil-war.

Had our rulers followed LKY, even as late as the ‘70s the Republic of Sri Lanka would have ended a society rich in spirit, a gracious society, where people are considerate and kind to one another and as Mencius said, where we treat all elders as we treat our own parents, and other children as our own. Thus Singapore’s diversity is a fundamental aspect of each group’s identity; LKY’s aimed for integration, not assimilation, for him being Singaporean has never been a matter of subtraction, but of addition; not of becoming less, but more; not of limitation and contraction, but of openness and expansion.

Over time, each race has retained and evolved its own culture and heritage – but has also allowed itself to be influenced by the customs and traditions of other races. The result has been distinctive Singaporean variants of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian cultures, and a growing Singaporean identity that we all share, suffusing and linking up our distinct individual identities and ethnic cultures. When Singaporeans travel overseas identify one another just by the way they speak and act, for a country that is just over 50 years old, which is a very short time compared to the ancient civilisations from which its people spring, this is quite an achievement.

Thus the Singapore success gives a clear message to the Sri Lankan rulers, they need to get into the right frame of mind to accept that the country is multi-ethnic and multi-religious and provide a holistic rule. Then everything will fall into place, development will follow and economy will boom. This was made clear to the new President by the leading ordained Buddhist priests in the country and the same was stressed to him by the Indian Prime Minister met him during his first official visit overseas. New President could make Sri Lanka into a Singapore of this century, provided the ruled to support him.