Singapore: Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong has praised the significant contribution of the Malayali community in the country's development, saying they have shown how to turn diversity into strength. Singapore's 26,000 strong Malayali community is largely descendants of migrants from Kerala in early 1900s.
Speaking at a gala dinner to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Singapore Malayali Association, Lee said that one of the reasons behind the Malayali community's success is its embracing of diversity.
"In many countries, exclusivity and extremism are growing and breeding racial and religious distrust. Singapore is not immune to these diseases of the spirit. But we can protect and strengthen our multicultural system to make our society more resilient against such external pressures," he said.
The small Malayali community has contributed significantly to Singapore's development, Lee noted.
"The Malayali community has shown how we can turn diversity into our strength. Singapore needs to do the same on a national level, with our different races and religions," Channel News Asia quoted Lee as saying.
He named former president Devan Nair, chief justice Sundaresh Menon and Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon as some of the outstanding Malayalis in Singapore.
Currently, there are also three Malayalis in Parliament -- senior minister of state Janil Puthucheary, and members of parliament, Vikram Nair and Murali Pillai.
The Malayalis have long embraced and celebrated diversity.
Counting Hindus, Muslims, Syrian Christians, and Roman Catholics in their midst, they are a fine example of turning diversity into strength, Lee wrote in his Facebook post on Saturday.
"Over the years, the Singapore Malayalee Association has helped to uplift the community, and to enrich and strengthen our social fabric. My congratulations to the Association on its centenary," he said.
The Singapore Malayalee Association last night also paid tribute to other outstanding members of its community, including poet and social activist M.K. Bhasi, dance pioneer Santha Bhaskar and ambassador at large Gopinath Pillai.
To mark its centenary, the association will set up a SGD 1 million financial aid fund for needy students as well as a wellness center for the elderly here.