PAP rallies: At lunchtime and at night

Don't use religion as trump card: Masagos

PAP candidate for Tampines GRC Mr Masagos Zukifli speaks at rally held at Ngee Ann Secondary School on Sept 8, 2015.
PAP candidate for Tampines GRC Mr Masagos Zukifli speaks at rally held at Ngee Ann Secondary School on Sept 8, 2015.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Second Minister for Home and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli yesterday hit back at claims by opposition candidates that the interests of the Malay-Muslim community have not been sufficiently looked after.

The community has been able to practise its religion openly and lives peacefully alongside people of other races and religions, he said at a People's Action Party (PAP) rally in Tampines. Speaking in Malay, he said he hoped the community would not be swayed by those who raise issues just to divide the community and win votes.

"When they bring up issues to do with religion, are they thinking it through or just hoping to cause us heartache?" he asked.

Singapore saw racial and religious riots in the 1960s, and he advised against using race and religion to win support.

Since the election campaign began, some opposition candidates have touched on issues such as curbs on Muslim women wearing headscarves in certain jobs.

Mr Masagos warned against trying to stir anger and revive old wounds at a time when Muslims enjoyed full freedom to practise their beliefs. For example, money has been raised to build around 24 mosques, which enjoy long leaseholds, he pointed out.

In other countries where Muslims are a minority, it is a struggle to build mosques.

He said the Malay-Muslim community has a duty to contribute to the nation and work with religious leaders, the Government, their employers and other citizens to preserve a religious life that is meaningful for all.

"This society that is so different in terms of religion and culture, that has in the past clashed and seen lives lost, manages today to live together in peace and harmony," said Mr Masagos.

Yet this harmony did not come about naturally. "In the 50 years we've progressed with the nation, we've been led by religious leaders, community leaders, and state leaders who understand each other. They have succeeded in building trust among one another."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Don't use religion as trump card: Masagos'. Print Edition | Subscribe