Society is made up of different people from different strata, and it can be acknowledged that there is no homogeneity. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the “different” would refer to human members who are different from typical people, in the sense that there might be problems with the 5 senses (blind, deaf, mute, dumb), or that the person can have physical defects that will enfeeble them, causing them to be unable to function as a normal person would. It can also include the mentally retarded, which impairs their ability to contribute to society. However, the different is not limited to biological and intellectual differences; it can also refer to the sexually-deviant, foreigners, or people from different races. The statement assumes that society, being Singapore, has always been intolerant of the different, and is still today. I disagree to a large extent that Singapore remains intolerant of the different.
It is not true that Singaporeans were intolerant of the different in the past. First of all, Singapore was a fishing village welcoming immigrants from different places, and the development we have seen till today are all due to the collective efforts of the different races – something not possible if people were intolerant of one another given the difference in race, language, and religion. As a migrant society, tolerance of those who are different is tantamount to the success of the society, and given Singapore’s current success, there is no doubt that Singaporeans were not just tolerant, but willing to accommodate one another’s differences for the greater good.
The important question is: is society still intolerant of the different? Despite being accommodating towards one another while Singapore was still in her infancy, this has changed. In 2009, the proposal of construction a workers’ dormitory in Serangoon Gardens estate raised an uproar amongst property owners, citing a predictable fall in property pricing due to the abominable presence...
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