RSIS inks agreements with 6 religious institutions to promote inter-faith understanding

Minister Ong Ye Kung (centre) witnessing the signing of an MOU between RSIS and six religious institutions, at the Marina Mandarin Hotel on Feb 2, 2017.
Minister Ong Ye Kung (centre) witnessing the signing of an MOU between RSIS and six religious institutions, at the Marina Mandarin Hotel on Feb 2, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

SINGAPORE - The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies on Thursday (Feb 2) inked agreements with six religious institutions, in a move to promote greater understanding of different religions here.

Its Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) programme will work closely with the institutions to develop post-graduate courses on religion and conduct research into the religious lives of the diverse communities in Singapore, among other things.

The six institutions are: the Buddhist College of Singapore, the Hindu Centre, Muis Academy, the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary, the Taoist College and Trinity Theological College.

The SRP programme covers modern inter-faith relations and conflict in plural societies.

Since its launch in 2014, it has collaborated with the six institutions on various fronts, like conducting a 10-day workshop with Muis Academy for local graduates and students from overseas Islamic universities.

The agreements signed on Thursday formalise these partnerships, and pave the way for greater collaboration.

Already on the cards this year are courses for the Hindu Centre and the Buddhist College of Singapore, aimed at promoting inter-faith ties for their religious leaders.

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung witnessed the signing ceremony, which was held during the RSIS's two-day symposium on religion, conflict and peacebuilding. The leaders of the various religious communities were also present.

Such efforts to enhance religious harmony and expand the common space in Singapore come amid growing polarisation along religious lines in the region, and rising anti-Islamic sentiments around the world.

SRP head of studies Mohammad Alami Musa said: "We can see the divisiveness in other parts of the world and how religion and beliefs are tearing society apart. Here, we work very hard to bring all our people together.

"We want to interact and exchange our experiences, our knowledge. With this, it will make our social bonds much stronger."

Faculty from Trinity Theological College will teach some masters courses at RSIS, which it developed together with the school.

Reverend Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, the principal of Trinity Theological College, said the courses "adds another dimension to our inter-faith dialogue".

"We can now look at the academic perspectives. It will raise the level of understanding," he said.