Will Singapore – the new as well as native citizens – come together in the event of a national crisis? Or will the nation be split asunder according to racial and cultural divides?
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raised the sobering prospect during a racial harmony event at Teck Ghee Community Club on Saturday.
Citing the two 1964 racial riots which left more than 30 dead, 500 injured and thousands arrested, Mr Lee hopes Singaporeans -- whether new or native -- will stick together through good and bad times.
"In normal times, we get along well together, but when there's a crisis for example, if there's a terrorist attack, then even though we're under pressure, stay together and we don't pull apart," he said, as reported on Channel NewsAsia.
He also repeated the call he made two weeks ago when he encouraged new and native Singaporeans to engage and learn from each other.
“The new arrivals -- to embrace the Singapore values and norms and try and fit in as Singaporeans. And Singaporeans - to encourage the new ones to integrate, to help the new ones to fit in," he said.
"Today (Saturday) of course, is the first day of Ramadan, and we wish our Muslim friends a happy fasting month and I hope you'll accept your Muslim friends' invitation to visit them during the month of Ramadan, if they invite you to break fast with them, take the opportunity to invite them for dinner the next time if you can," he said.
In a separate event on Saturday, Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer said Singapore had a long way to go before it would fully embrace racial and cultural diversity.
Native Singaporeans Yahoo! spoke to had mixed feelings about the debate on new vs native Singaporeans.
Felicia Goh, 24, said the “reality” is that new citizens should be given a chance to integrate into the Singapore culture.
She said, "I think native Singaporeans must start accepting the reality that there will be more new citizens coming in. So instead of complaining and being unhappy about it, we can start embracing them and see them as one of us."
But Benedict Low, 32, said the government also had to think twice about its open-door immigration policy.
"That's something the government have to solve, not us. You don't throw us a problem and expect us to solve it. After all, it's their immigration policy that has allowed the sudden influx of new citizens," he said.