6 facts every S’porean should know about Racial Harmony Day

Every Singaporean has celebrated Racial Harmony Day at least once in their lifetime; when you were in school or even at a company you worked in or are working in.

Honestly, though, besides putting on our traditional outfits and having food from the different cultures and races, how much do we actually know about the day? Here are 6 facts to enlighten you.

1. A day to commemorate

Racial Harmony Day is held to commemorate the communal riots of 1964 and teach students the importance of maintaining racial and religious harmony in Singapore’s multicultural and multi-ethnic society.

2. Launched in 1997

Racial Harmony Day was launched in 1997 as part of the National Education programme conducted by the Ministry of Education (MOE) for schools.

Since the first Racial Harmony Day, the event has undergone a series of expansions to widen its reach.

3. National Education was conceived due to a “lack of knowledge” of Singapore’s history

The reason for the launch of National Education in 1996 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was because tests conducted by MOE on students and street polls showed that many Singaporeans, particularly those from the post-independence generation, knew little about their country’s history.

National Education was officially launched by then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 17 May 1997, with the aim to “develop national cohesion, the instinct for survival and confidence in [Singapore’s] future”.

4. The Orange Ribbon

The wearing of the orange ribbon, the colour symbolising racial harmony and intolerance towards racism, first began in 2001, when the Singapore History Museum (now known as the National Museum of Singapore), introduced it in a school.

5. Declaration on Religious Harmony: a response to challenge

The draft code of our Declaration on Religious Harmony was drafted in October 22nd and done in response to the challenge posed by terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah to religious harmony in Singapore.

The finalised code was unveiled to the public in June 2003 and was first recited by students, grassroots organisations and religious groups during the Racial Harmony Day celebrations in 2003.

In a speech at a Racial Harmony Day celebration in 2012, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted Singapore must build harmony and “pay attention to new fault lines, for example, between old citizens and new citizens”.

6. Orange Ribbon this year

This year, 39,000 Primary School students from Elias Primary School were given kits to make the orange ribbons. They were encouraged to give these ribbons out to other races in exchange for nuggets of information about their culture.

Top Image: happy-tv.com

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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Loves dogs, travelling and the American TV Hit series Empire. Always attempting to head out clubbing with friends but seem to, more often than not, get waylaid by her bed. Constantly trying to channel the Brain from Pinky and the Brain to take over the world, but with her writing. Wants to someday be free from the reins of office life and run a pet business so that her daughter (aka her dog), can be with her at all times.