Lee Hsien Loong: Racial Harmony Here An Unusual And Unnatural State Of Affairs, Need To Be Worked On Continuously

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singaporeans of all races and religions are able to live peacefully side by side despite the fact that the country’s racial and religious harmony is an “unusual and unnatural state of affairs”.

Mr Lee spoke at a Harmony Dinner at the Singapore Expo on Wednesday evening (Apr 15), an event organised by the Taoist Federation to celebrate its Silver Jubilee.

“There are studies of different societies and there was one study called a report on ‘Global Religious Diversity’ looking at how mixed different societies were – and in fact they ranked Singapore as the most religious diverse society out of 232 countries in the world, and we were the most religiously diverse,” said Mr Lee.

“The most different religions, the most intermingled, all the world’s major faiths are present in Singapore and many smaller faiths too. And yet we enjoy racial and religious harmony, and we live peacefully and happily side by side every day,” added the Prime Minister. It is something that should be continually worked on to be preserved, he said.

Mr Lee said building a multi-racial and multi-religious society is a key ideal that Singapore was founded upon.

Quoting the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister said Singapore does not belong to any single community, but to everyone. Mr Lee said the Taoist Federation worked hard to foster good relations between the different religious groups in Singapore.

All 10 constituent religions of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) were also present at the Harmony Dinner, and Mr Lee called on the religious leaders to lead by example.

Said Mr Lee: “Your communities look to you as role models. How you counsel and lead your congregations, your flocks, will shape religious relations in Singapore. So I am very happy that so many of our religious leaders are committed to building trust and friendships with other communities.”

“We also of course need to keep our society open and inclusive. We can be any race, any religion, but we are also – at the same time – all Singaporeans together. And we have learnt to trust and respect our different races and religions, and to live peacefully with one another,” he said.

The IRO said racial and religious harmony is also enhanced by having more dialogues between people of various faiths.

“It is educating everyone as to what another religion has and if you have better understanding of another religion besides your own, that’s when you have a better understanding and that’s where you will have peace and harmony,” said IRO President Gurmit Singh.


Source: www.channelnewsasia.com

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