Singapore’s multi-religious harmony is 'exception rather than norm': ESM Goh

Singapore’s multi-religious harmony is 'exception rather than norm': ESM Goh

Goh Chok Tong at the launch of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO)'s 70th anniversary exhibition
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at the launch of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO)'s 70th anniversary exhibition on Mar 18, 2019. 

SINGAPORE: The Christchurch mosque shootings are a reminder that peace is both precious and fragile, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Monday (Mar 18), as he urged Singaporeans to guard against religious extremism and segregationist practices.

Speaking at the launch of the Inter-Religious Organisation's (IRO) 70th anniversary exhibition, Mr Goh pointed out that Singapore’s multi-religious harmony is “an exception rather than the norm in the world”.

"The heinous acts committed at two mosques in Christchurch are a sad reminder that the peace we enjoy is both precious and fragile, and cannot be taken for granted,"  he said.

"Generations of Singaporeans and Singaporean governments have worked hard to make religious diversity our strength, not our weakness. And future generations must continue to do so."

IRO exhibition
The IRO’s 70th anniversary exhibition traces the organisation’s work over the years to promote interfaith harmony.

Mr Goh said Singapore faces challenges to maintaining social cohesion. 

For instance, increased religiosity around the world has led to concerns that some groups may seek to impose their beliefs on others, he said. 

In addition, terrorist acts and other hate crimes by extremist groups and individuals can turn communities against one another.

"The actions of a radicalised few could potentially cause distrust of the peaceful many who live in harmony, and split societies," he added.

READ: Singapore’s religious harmony laws must be up to date to deal with new threats: PM Lee

Mr Goh, a patron of the IRO, lauded the organisation's efforts in leading by example to maintain religious harmony in Singapore. 

He also urged all Singaporeans to work together to preserve and grow the common space in society; guard against religious extremism and segregationist practices; enhance day-to-day interactions between different communities; as well as strengthen and grow the Inter-religious Confidence Circles or IRCCs, which are interfaith platforms found in every constituency.

"On its part, the Government will continue to protect our social harmony and promote interfaith dialogue and understanding," he said.

The IRO’s 70th anniversary exhibition traces the organisation’s work over the years to promote interfaith harmony. It features interactive games and displays of religious artifacts from 10 major religions. 

Held at Far East Plaza, the exhibition is open from 11am to 8pm daily until Mar 31.

Source: CNA/ic(gs)

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