It is not by chance that Singapore is an example of unity in diversity

Harmonious and peaceful co-existence can be easily buffeted in our small open society. It is not by chance that Singapore is an example of unity in diversity, it is built upon by the efforts of generations of Singaporeans. The necessity of reaffirming this with every generation of Singaporean was discussed at the ‘Interfaith Symposium On Harmonious And Peaceful Co-existence In Diversity’.  

Jointly supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and OnePeople.sg it was held on 2 November 2019 at the Singapore Soka Association (SSA) Headquarters in Tampines.

The Singapore Soka Association Headquarters in Tampines was the venue for the Inter- faith symposium. Photo Courtesy: SSA
The Singapore Soka Association Headquarters in Tampines was the venue for the Inter- faith symposium. Photo Courtesy: SSA FB 

Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs was guest-of-honour for the event which was attended by more than 700 people, who interacted in the dialogue by asking questions and voting for questions closest to their heart. 

Engaging youngsters and making the concept of interfaith collaboration interesting & relevant to them, fostering not just tolerance but bonding between religions and safeguarding our shared values against blown over influences such as fake news. These were some of the areas on which the speakers shared their perspectives. 

Moderator Haji Mohammad Alami Musa, Head of the Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (RSIS), with  panellists Dr Lawrence Edward Carter Sr. Dean, Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel; Ambassador K Kesavapany, member of the Inter-Religious Organisation Council;  Dr Mohammad Hannan Hassan, Vice Dean of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) Academy and Mr Michael Yap, Vice General Director of the Singapore Soka Association.
Moderator Haji Mohammad Alami Musa, Head of the Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (RSIS), with panellists Dr Lawrence Edward Carter Sr. Dean, Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel; Ambassador K Kesavapany, member of the Inter-Religious Organisation Council; Dr Mohammad Hannan Hassan, Vice Dean of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) Academy and Mr Michael Yap, Vice General Director of the Singapore Soka Association. Photo Courtesy: SSA 

The symposium comes after the recent proposed amendments to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (MRHA) where various religious groups pledged their commitment to safeguard religious harmony in Singapore. 

Dr Lawrence Edward Carter Sr. Dean, Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel speaking at the Interfaith Symposium On Harmonious And Peaceful Co-existence In Diversity.
Dr Lawrence Edward Carter Sr. Dean, Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel speaking at the Interfaith Symposium On Harmonious And Peaceful Co-existence In Diversity.

Lawrence Carter noted that if the world was a village consisting of 1,000 people, it would comprise about 330 Christians, 180 Muslims, 130 Hindus, 60 Buddhists, 50 animistic or traditional religion followers, four Sikhs, two Jews and about 210 atheists living side by side.

Even in such a community, religious harmony would not just be an option but a necessity it was emphasised.

Author
Lakshmy Iyer
Lakshmy Iyer – Senior Correspondent, ASEAN & Entertainment

Lakshmy has been contributing regularly as a freelance writer since 2012. Her writing has been an amalgamation of the language, literature and rich cultural experiences of India as well as South East Asia. An Instructional Designer by profession she is passionate about lifelong learning. Art is her medium of reflection. She participates in art exhibitions thus contributing to the local art scene and using this platform, supports social causes in Singapore as well.

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