Self-screening of foreign speakers by religious groups not good enough

The fact that certain religious organisations had attempted to invite preachers here who were subsequently not allowed in proves that self-screening is neither effective nor adequate (Foreign speakers: Onus on religious groups?; Oct 5).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently said that Singapore has "not yet arrived at an ideal state of accepting people of a different race" (PM Lee spells out why he pushed for reserved election; Sept 30). He also said racial issues crop up even in day-to-day living.

This reality only goes to show that race and religion are still extremely sensitive issues, and any outsider with even the slightest potential to stoke hatred and animosity by denigrating religions they don't represent should rightly be banned.

While religious organisations may wish to be allowed to govern themselves, their leaders must work with the authorities to ensure that the foreign preachers they invite do no damage to this multi-religious and multiracial society our leaders and people have invested so much in.

Working with the authorities does not mean ceding control to the Government. Theological schools should also be roped in to check for doctrinal soundness; in addition, sample sermons as well as videotaped versions of past sermons can be reviewed. Outlines of proposed sermons should also be submitted in advance for vetting.

I applaud the Law Minister for not allowing two Christian preachers to preach here, nipping a potentially volatile situation in the bud.

Outsiders with no understanding of the issues we face as a nation cannot satisfactorily add value and what they say may even be detrimental in our context.

Leaders of religious organisations must work with the authorities to ensure that foreign preachers do no damage to this multi-religious and multiracial society... Working with the authorities does not mean ceding control to the Government.

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2017, with the headline 'Self-screening of foreign speakers by religious groups not good enough'. Print Edition | Subscribe