SINGAPORE: As Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence, citizens should remind themselves that religious harmony is a precious legacy to be treasured, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at an event marking the 66th anniversary of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO).
Leaders of the 10 main faiths in Singapore attended the event at the Istana on Tuesday evening (May 12).
In a speech, Mr Lee said efforts of the organisation has strengthened religious harmony in Singapore over the years. Religious leaders have built up mutual trust and can discuss sensitive issues that arise from time to time, he said. This includes the threat of self-radicalisation and the Islamic State or managing public issues such as the wearing of religious symbols or the conduct of festivals like Thaipusam.
But Mr Lee cautioned that even though the country is able to be more open and mature in discussing racial and religious matters, this does not mean that religion is no longer a sensitive area.
“But this does not mean we don’t have to be sensitive and respectful, or to worry about actions that provoke and give offense. Look at other societies. Even in countries where different groups have lived together for centuries, race and religion still remain sensitive issues which can be stirred up and explode,” said Prime Minister Lee.