HarmonyWorks! Conference 2012: Regardless of Facebook, Twitter or YouTube
Combating Racial Disputes via Social Media
Over 800 students from various secondary and tertiary institutions in Singapore gathered on Saturday to discuss issues regarding inter-racial and religious harmony in this country.
Since its inception in 2005, the annual HarmonyWorks! Conference organized by OnePeople.sg provides a platform to engage youths from all walks of life to discuss current trends and issues pertaining to racial and religious harmony. Positioned as a youth-for-youth initiative, this year’s conference was held on 28th July 2012 at Temasek Convention Centre.
The key highlight of the Conference was the dialogue session led by Guest of Honour, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. Other panelists include Mr Zainudin Nordin, Chairman of OnePeople.sg, Mr Kelly Choo, co-founder of Brandtology and Mr Eugene Tan, Assistant Professor of Law, SMU and Nominated Member of Parliament.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Regardless of Facebook, Twitter or Youtube”. According to Mr Zainudin Nordin, Chairman of OnePeople.sg, “This year’s theme is very relevant as many of us nowadays cannot live a day without checking their Facebook, Twitter and sometimes even Youtube.”
Student Ha Duy Thanh from Loyang Secondary School concurred that “instead of mocking and making fun of others, [it is better if we] just learn from each other”.
Conference participant, Mr Kushal Atul Shah from St. Joseph Institution International, agreed that this year’s theme is very apt in describing the current generation. “It is very easy for youths to spread the word of racial harmony via social media. One simple tweet can start a trend,” he added.
Through breakout sessions led by OnePeople.sg’s volunteer facilitators, participants discussed challenges posed in sustaining a socially cohesive society in an era of the new norm. These were complemented by local and recent case studies, illustrating how racial disputes can arise just with a click of the mouse.
In one of the breakout sessions that discussed incidents of racism in schools, an Indian boy recounted that his classmates would say “The Dark Knight Rises” whenever he stood up. However, he added that “[my classmate] are trying to say I’m awesome, because we all know Batman is amazing”.
Participants also discussed about the practicability of an online code of ethics and how this could impact social interactions online.
Even without an online code of ethics however, participants still believed that every individual can play their part to ensure racial harmony among people of different races. Mark Wai Ming from Canberra Secondary School said, “We should spare a thought for one another before posting anything online, because we do not want that [racist comments] to be directed to us.”