I have recently returned from a 4-month fellowship sponsored by the United States Department of State in the US to learn and deepen my understanding and skills on ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’, having learnt first-hand from my supervisor who is a peacebuilder in global conflicts and is acknowledged by her peers as one of the best in the field as well as from other experts in the field of peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution.
The riots in Little India, which happened on the night of 8 December 2013 was a regrettable incident. Unfortunately, it could have been an avoidable incident. Though not culturally or religiously motivated, it was the result of a failure to bridge understanding between the different cultures that live in Singapore. The lack of a structure to institutionalize understanding between the different cultures: between Singaporeans as well as between Singaporeans and foreigners. This was an observation I’ve made in my research on the trends of the conflicts during my fellowship.
For the longest time, we have always been taught to be a tolerant society but tolerance is only the suppression of negative emotions for the sake of peace. In conflict resolution terms, we understand this as negative peace. It is something Singaporeans have been taught and it is something that we have taught others who come to live in Singapore.
I am, therefore, reaching out to you, to offer my time and service, as a Singaporean as a Reservist Police Officer as a Grassroots Leader as a Global Leader, to help begin the positive and peaceful conflict resolution process, not just for this incident, but for us to begin building the blocks of positive and nationwide peacebuilding.
I hope you believe in positive peacebuilding efforts because otherwise, we will forever remain in negative peace, and that is something I do not want our younger generations to inherit.