There seems to be nothing wrong with multiculturalism, an ideology which advocates mutual co-existence of distinct cultural, ethnic or religious communities in a plural society.

In his article ' Multiculturalism - how can it be wrong?'(the Star, Aug 25) , Ng Kam Wong, research director at Kairos Research Centre, stressed the significance of 'multiculturalism as the best modus vivendi for developing a national identity that expresses unity in diversity and equality for all peoples regardless of their culture and religion.'

This is at least what the proponents of multiculturalism - both as a political ideology and state policy - want to impress upon the constituents of a plural society: that distinct cultural and religious communities should be allowed to co-exist; that their existence should be on equal status basis; that national identity should include and encompass cultures of different communities; and that the minority (usually immigrant) communities should not be assimilated into indigenous community in the name of national integration. Hence, the stress is on unity in diversity and equality for all.

But rendering multiculturalism as unproblematic is itself troubling. Often times, the need to preserve group's cultural and religious particularistic has to contend with national aspiration for a common national identity, which is considered as a condition precedent to national unity. At the same time, multiculturalists also need to grapple with indigenous communities' skepticism that multiculturalism is nothing more than allowing alien cultures to subvert indigenous culture.

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