Plural societies, such as ours, are prone to tensions and to pretend that it is a new thing is folly. What is new is the disrespectful disagreement we now witness as we moved from social polarisation (living in different communities) to issue polarisation (where we cannot agree on the essentials of living together). The recent Express/SBS poll points to ethnicity, a powerful predictor of behaviour, as the polarising force. This is troubling since ethnicity is wrapped up in notions of kinship which can lead to nepotism, which disrupts democracy.

The different value systems and life experiences of our two major ethnic groups, confined by geography and the Constitution, appear to be leading to intense “war” since political power determines the distribution of resources. Do we wish to leave this tendency unchecked or should we embrace our imperfect nation’s “rainbow” nature—where every creed and race could find an equal place?