Faith leaders pray for peace and harmony

Representatives of nine religions in the Inter-Religious Organisation - Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Taoism - praying for peace and harmony in Singapore. Yesterday's event was a fitting way to remembe
Representatives of nine religions in the Inter-Religious Organisation - Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Taoism - praying for peace and harmony in Singapore. Yesterday's event was a fitting way to remember Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who had played a crucial role in creating a harmonious multiracial and multi-religious society here.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Event at Taoist temple held to express gratitude and respect for Mr Lee ahead of his first death anniversary

Religious leaders and members of various faiths gathered at a Taoist temple yesterday to pray that Singapore continues to enjoy peace and harmony in the years to come.

The representatives of nine religions in the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) - Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Taoism - were at the Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong temple in Paya Lebar, where they also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen Singapore's inter-religious harmony.

The IRO has members from 10 faiths, but the Zoroastrian representative was not able to attend.

The event, held ahead of the first death anniversary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, was a fitting way to remember Singapore's first prime minister who played a crucial role in creating a harmonious multiracial and multi-religious society here.

Its theme was "Forward as One", and it was organised by the Taoist Federation and the temple to express gratitude and respect for Mr Lee.

Mr Foo Check Woo, 60, IRO president and a representative of the Baha'i faith, said members appreciate what the Government had done to ensure religious harmony.

Mr Lee was "instrumental in fostering inter-faith harmony", and it was only natural that the group wanted to get together to pay tribute to him, he added.

Mr Gurmit Singh, 66, who represents the Sikh religion, agreed.

While the IRO has been committed to enhancing religious harmony since it was founded in 1949, "our work was further reaffirmed by the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew", he said.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who attended the dinner event, said the multiracial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic harmony Singapore enjoys should not be taken for granted.

He also urged Singaporeans to look out for their fellow citizens, as that is the best way to remember Mr Lee's legacy. "Every ounce of his energy was spent taking care of Singapore and Singaporeans. The most fitting tribute that we can give Mr Lee and the founding leaders is to make sure we continue to take good care of Singapore and fellow Singaporeans," said Mr Chan.

"Make sure that Singapore continues not just to survive, but to thrive as a metropolis... A place all of us are proud to call home."

Also at the event last night were 120 low-income residents from nearby estates. They were treated to song and dance performances over dinner, and each got a red packet as well as a food pack that included rice, Milo powder and biscuits.

Pipit Road resident Chew Son Chun was there with her neighbour Molly Leong. Both are 77. Madam Chew said she agreed to attend when invited by volunteers as it was her way of showing gratitude to Mr Lee. "I was not able to go to Parliament House to say goodbye to Mr Lee last year when he died, because I get dizzy when I stand for too long," she said in Mandarin.

"But I'm here today to remember him. He'd done a lot for Singapore."

Madam Leong said: "This is our way of saying thanks to him."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Faith leaders pray for peace and harmony'. Print Edition | Subscribe