Many countries are confronted with the problems of ethnic and cultural diversity in their society. Under the globalization, the flow of people from one place to another has been increasing tremendously in the past few years and yet, many countries still struggle to put their policies on multiculturalism into practice.
One of the countries that have been quite successful at putting multicultural policies in practice is Singapore. Singapore is well known for being a multi-ethnic country, with 77 percent of the population being Chinese, 14 percent Malays, and 8 percent Indians. Because of this diverse population, the government of Singapore recognizes English, which is the most widely spoken language, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil as the official languages. At school, children learn various subjects in English, but also have the choice to take courses on their mother tongue if they wished.
In addition to the different languages that are recognized in Singapore, the country also celebrates a variety of ethnic and cultural festivals such as the Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa. Each of the racial groups celebrates festivals of other cultures, which shows how people in Singapore respect ethnic and cultural differences of the others.
On the other hand, Japan still seems to be reluctant to accept many immigrants who are non-Japanese. For example, care workers from the Philippines and Indonesia that came to Japan had to learn Japanese, be able to read Japanese and take exams to qualify for these care workers in Japanese. Many Japanese people also expressed their anxiety, such as the language barrier and fear of non-Japanese workers providing care, when Japan first accepted care workers from overseas. As a result, many institutions did not accept these foreign care workers to work at their hospitals.
Like the example of Japan, even if the country may have policies on multiculturalism, if these policies are not effectively implemented, it does not make the country multicultural. Singapore has successfully established a multicultural and multiethnic society by recognizing the different ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the people living in Singapore, and has treated all of the different identities equally. Without the recognition of the different cultures that exist in the society, it would be difficult to establish a multicultural society that everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, can feel some connection to the society that they live in.
by Nami Tatewaki
Moyer, Amy J. “Current Sociolinguistic Situation.” Singapore: A Multilingual, Multiethnic Country, n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2011.