‘Diverse Indian community helped to build Singapore’

Singapore, Nov 24 (IANS) The diverse Indian community in Singapore has played a large part in building the country, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday during a lunch hosted in honour of his visiting Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.

Lee said Singapore’s Indian pioneers include G. Sarangapany, who came here from Tamil Nadu in 1924. He founded the Tamil “Murasu” newspaper, and sold the paper at one cent a copy so that the poor could read it too, Channel News Asia reported.

“Because of leaders like him, Singapore has today a thriving community of Indians who are well-integrated in our society and form an essential part of our multi-racial, multi-religious mix,” Lee said.

He also named Gujarati businessman Rajabali Jumabhoy, the first president of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Maulana Abdul Aleem Siddique, an Indian Muslim who established social welfare organisations like Jamiyah and the Inter-Religious Organisation, as well as Sikhs who contribute in many different fields such as judges and senior officers in the armed forces, as examples of Indians who have helped to build Singapore.

Singapore has also had five foreign ministers of Indian origin who represent the country’s interests abroad, Lee added.

Over the years, Singapore has maintained and built upon its friendship with India, and will support India’s development where it can because it is a mutually-beneficial relationship, Lee said.

“We believe India is a great Asian country that has a lot to contribute to the region and we wish India well in its reforms and development,” he said.

Modi’s visit to Singapore came at a significant time, he said, with the two nations celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations.

Modi arrived in the island nation on a two-day visit on Monday.

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