“I do not need to hate all other women to love my wife whom I am happily married to, for the last 35 years!”
This is the analogy used by Ambassador Mohammad Alami Musa when he explained how we do not need to hate one religion to love our own.
Mr Alami said this in his speech at the National Community Engagement Programme Dialogue on 23 May 2015. The event, held at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Singapore, gathered Singaporeans from all walks of life to share and gain insights on maintaining religious harmony in Singapore .
Looking back to look forward
As Singapore turns 50 this year, the speakers emphasised the need to look back at the country’s past to appreciate the efforts of the pioneers to protect the harmony between the various religious and ethnic groups.
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean, urged participants to keep working at maintaining and strengthening peace and harmony in Singapore.
He said, “Very often, we take it for granted, thinking that this is a natural state of affairs.”
The importance of youths
In summarising the day’s proceedings following the different Town Hall sessions, many participants called on youths to take over the responsibility of maintaining and further strengthening religious harmony. Some also expressed concerns that not all young people seem to fully understand the importance of this, since many may have never personally experienced racial and religious strife.
However, Muhammad Harithatunnu’man Bin Mohamed Hasbi, a student from Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah, is hopeful about the ability of young people to step up to the challenge.
The 17-year-old said, “My takeaway (from this event) is that we can do so much, but then the fact is that we must believe that we are trying to work together as one community. You cannot just buy into one idea.”
An artist’s visual representation of the points raised during the discussions, capturing the vibrancy of the diversity that Singapore enjoys
Singapore is a “Work in Progress”
While it may seem like Singapore is already a success story of racial harmony, participants were reminded that there is never an end to strengthening the relationships between the various ethnic and religious groups.
“Singapore is a work that is in progress; not a work that has been fully sustained,” reminded Mr Hee Joh Liang, Chairman of the Inter-polytechnic International Students Integration Workgroup (IPISIWG).
Written by Jesleen Soh
Year 3, Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media