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My Paper

Balancing Realism With Idealism

So while reality can sometimes bog us down, frustrate us, we must continue to believe that we can strive towards these aspirations” (Equality? It’s Tempered By Reality, Miss Lee Hui Chen).

I refer to the parliamentary exchange between MM Lee Kuan Yew and NMP Viswa Sadasivan, as reported by Miss Lee Hui Chen (August 20).

MM Lee is certainly right when he pointed out the realities of racial and religious harmony, especially in relation to Singapore’s inherent characteristics. Ethnic self-help groups such as Mendaki and Sinda have played significant roles in advancing the rights of our Malay and Indian counterparts, as well as to help disadvantaged individuals.

However, moving forward, perhaps we should gradually move away from what divides us, and focus on what unites us. That is, instead of emphasising race and the CMIO categorisation per se, we should develop perspectives on what makes us uniquely Singaporean. I am in agreement with Mr. Viswa’s view that “we [cannot] stop believing in the aspirations and working towards them”, because every person should be granted the same opportunities and chances to excel and succeed in our meritocratic society.

Of course, these idealistic aspirations of a level-playing field and a entirely race-blind Singapore are hardly feasible. Therefore, the key is to strike equilibrium between realism and idealism, practicalities and aspirations, while moving forward. Even as we are bounded by the experiences of the past, we must not be afraid to take chances and challenge boundaries; so as to meet the challenges of an increasingly tenuous and uncertain world.

A version of this article was published in My Paper.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.



  1. Pingback: To Move Beyond CMIO, Dismantle Government Structures | guanyinmiao's musings - April 13, 2015

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