Racial harmony is of great importance to Singapore because there are 4 main races (Chinese-77%, Malays-15%, Eurasians and Indians-8%) living together in Singapore. Without cultivating this harmony, a race riot may start. As Singapore is a tiny island, a small riot can prove to be devastating. A good example is the race riots that occurred in Singapore in 21 July 1964. At that time, about 25,000 Malays gathered at Padang to celebrate Prophet Mohammed birthday. After the speeches, the procession went on to Geylang. Along the way, a group that was dispersed was asked to rejoin the procession by a policeman. Instead of obeying the orders, the group attacked the policeman. This incident lead to a race riot after the group of Malays also attacked Chinese passers-by and spectators.
Solution: A curfew that lasted from 9.30pm to 6am was then imposed to restore orders, but as soon as the curfew was lifted, the conflict grew tenser, and thus another curfew was imposed and it was only lifted for short periods for people to buy food. The curfew was only completely lifted on 2 August in the same year. After the riots, goodwill committees were set up and these committees were made up of community leaders from the various racial groups. The main job of these leaders was to help restore harmony and peace between the Malays and the Chinese by addressing the concerns of the residents.?About 23 people had lost their lives and 450 people were injured during the riot.
Although the riot ended, a second race riot occurred just a month after the first. This time, a Malay trishaw-rider was found murdered at Geylang Serai and his attackers were believed to be a group of Chinese. A race riot started again, and a curfew was imposed. Because of this riot, 13 people lost their lives and 106 people were injured.
Fortunately, under the presence of troops and the imposing of curfew, these race riots ended. However, this solution does not stop race riots from occurring again as proved. As prevention is better than cure, racial harmony between people will prevent any disagreements and people of different races can live together peacefully. It all depends on the goodwill of the people, and thus, the significance of racial harmony.
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