Religion has a role to play in protecting the environment: Vivian

SINGAPORE - Singapore's different faiths have a role to play in protecting the environment because they teach people that they are stewards of the world who have a duty to one another to use resources wisely, said Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan at an environment seminar on Saturday.

"Religion and environment truly are connected because firstly, our religions teach us that we are stewards with a responsibility for the world and nature, secondly that we owe a duty to each other to make sure we have a safer and viable world for ourselves and our children and thirdly, don't waste," said Dr Balakrishnan at a ecological seminar held at Furama Riverfront Hotel which gathered some 200 people, including religious groups and embassy diplomats.

He said he made time for this "unusual" event because he believed it is the first time that different religious groups are coming together on a common platform to discuss issues on the environment and ecology.

Invited speakers at the seminar include Bishop Terry Kee, president of National Council of Churches, Habib Hassan al-Attas, Imam of Ba'alwie Mosque and Venerable Master Chin Kung, president of Pure Land Learning College.

Each religious speaker shared with the audience how their holy books encourage the protection of the environment. Religious teacher Habib Hassan spoke on the need to maintain the delicate ecological balance because different animal species and environmental phenomena are interdependent on and interconnected to one another. For example, he showed how two of the biggest local health and environmental challenges last year - dengue fever and haze - are linked.

"During the haze, cases of dengue fever were greatly reduced. Many people don't realise that it was the smoke from the haze that killed the breeding mosquitoes. We do not deny the fact that the haze brought different kinds of problems but paradoxically, it also brought some kind of relief to the spread of dengue fever," he said.