SINGAPORE - Community groups can deepen the understanding between people of different races and religions by providing opportunities for interaction, said Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob on Sunday (Aug 6).
She cited the example of CommaCon, a national youth convention organised by the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) last October.
At the convention, youths of all races and religions came together to discuss issues such as racism, terrorism, national identity and the social divide.
Madam Halimah was speaking as the guest of honour at a National Day celebration organised by AMP and attended by 450 of its volunteers, activists and beneficiaries.
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She also urged parents to instill the values of racial harmony and mutual respect in their children, adding that these values take root in children's formative years.
"As Singaporeans, we must protect our racial and religious harmony, and not let events in and outside Singapore erode the mutual trust and respect that we worked hard to build over the past five decades," she said.
The event was held at the Pasir Ris East Community Centre, where AMP has its headquarters.
The audience recited the national pledge, sang the national anthem and watched cultural performances including silat, Indian dance and a lion dance. There was also a carnival with food and games booths.
Madam Halimah also praised the AMP, which has worked together with national bodies such as the Singapore Kindness Movement, National Youth Council and Free Food for All.
"Although AMP's work is very much focused on the Malay-Muslim community, I am happy to see that you also have events involving other communities," she said.
Said AMP's executive director Mohd Anuar Yusop: "Through this event, we hope to forge closer ties with one another and recognise the different roles that we play in contributing to the community and nation."