Be big-hearted, avoid dividing society: Dr Yaacob

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday urged Singaporeans to be big-hearted and to accommodate differences in opinions and choices to avoid dividing society. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday urged Singaporeans to be big-hearted and to accommodate differences in opinions and choices to avoid dividing society. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

SINGAPORE - Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday urged Singaporeans to be big-hearted and to accommodate differences in opinions and choices to avoid dividing society.

His comments came after an Islamic religious teacher launched a Wear White campaign to protest against homosexuality and the annual Pink Dot event, and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) issued guidelines to mosque officials on how to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also spoke on the issue, saying that in matters of religion and personal preferences, people have to "exercise a sense of balance and restraint". He said: "I think we just have to be a society where you don't go pushing your own beliefs and preferences, but at the same time everyone else keeps the balance in society and avoids creating conflict."

Dr Yaacob said Muslims had always supported the institution of the family and this was something they would want to continue doing. "Yet, we also recognise that we live in a multicultural society where there are bound to be differences in opinion and people have their own choices," he said. "We respect that."

Speaking to reporters at the annual Muis Awards ceremony, held at the Orchard Hotel, he preferred taking a "gentle" approach in dealing with differences, through consultation and accommodation.

"Ultimately, what we want to do is to avoid dividing society or dividing the community," said Dr Yaacob, who is Minister for Communications and Information. "Let us find the big-heartedness that we have to accommodate differences that exist in any society."

Muis has advised mosque officials not to get caught in the crossfire between the Wear White campaign and the Pink Dot event to be held on Saturday.

The event, organised to promote "freedom to love" regardless of sexual orientation, has been held on the last Saturday of June for the past three years.