Social harmony key to growth for multinational states: former Singapore minister
DUBAI, Feb 11, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
A former Singaporean minister said
here Monday that well organized and technologically advanced
government services are essential to keep societies where many
ethnic groups live side by side stable.
Speaking at a panel discussion of the two-day United Arab
Emirates Government Summit, which started in its first edition
Monday, Chan Soo Sen, Singapore's former minister of state for
education, trade and industry, said Singapore's economic success
story was not only based on building up a liberal and well-
connected economy, but also on social harmony.
"Social harmony through good governance and public services is
key for sustainable prosperity," said Chan, "especially for city
state like Singapore, which has no natural resources but has a
According to the official, 75 percent of the 5.3 million
Singaporeans are of Chinese origin, while 15 percent are Malay, 8
percent are Indians and 2 percent are of other origins. Religious
diversity is likewise high. While Buddhists and Taoists make up to
53 percent of the total population, Muslims and Christians stand
for 16 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
Chan gave a number of examples of how stability can be reached
among people of different ethnics. Every citizen in Singapore is
obliged to speak the language of his origin and English, he said,
"This is compulsory and important, otherwise Singaporeans would
feel their origin has no place in society and we could not
communicate with each other or with the world."
In addition, Singapore established a National Council that
supports voluntary organizations so that people get a feeling that
helping each other is supported by the state. The city state also
upgraded its government services by rewarding the use of e-public
"If a I apply for a new passport at the ministry of interior, I
have to pay 80 U.S. dollars, but if I do so online, I get a
10-U.S. dollar discount," Chan said such incentives made people
happy and contributed to social harmony. "People who are angry at
the state because of bad services are not good for harmony," added
According to the World Competitiveness Index developed by IMD
Business School in Lausanne, Singapore ranks second behind Hong
Kong in public services.
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