SINGAPORE - Singaporeans of all backgrounds should stand together to show compassion for the less fortunate, said Dr Maliki Osman, the Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs.
Dr Maliki told faith leaders, nursing home residents and volunteers at an interfaith breaking fast event on Wednesday (May 29) that "compassion itself knows no religion".
The event at Wisma Geylang Serai marked the culmination of Project Dignity, in which 120,000 adult diapers were given out to 500 beneficiaries in the South East District.
More than 100 volunteers from the South East Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles, South East Community Development Council's Racial Harmony Youth Ambassadors programme and other religious organisations repacked and sorted the adult diapers, which were then distributed to the beneficiaries.
Instead of giving out the more common forms of aid such as food, Dr Maliki, who is also mayor of the South East District, said diapers were chosen to help raise the dignity of the elderly.
He noted that some older folk may find it difficult to go to the bathroom and diapers are expensive so they are seen as a practical form of help while the community chips in to provide traditional forms of assistance.
"We want to spread the message that it is beyond just giving financial assistance, beyond just giving food, because many others are giving that too," he added.
Dr Maliki said also noted that the recent Institute of Policy Studies survey findings that found 15 per cent of respondents felt Muslims were threatening was possibly indicative of Singaporeans' lack of exposure to different faiths.
And while seeing volunteers from different faiths come together reassured him, he reiterated that the country cannot take racial and religious harmony for granted, with there always being "room for us to improve".
Pastor Garrett Lee, 34, from Heart of God Church, which jointly spearheaded Project Dignity, agreed that greater interfaith interaction was important.
He said: "For many of the young volunteers, this may be one of their first opportunities to work closely with someone of another faith.
"Ultimately, this collaboration is all about the younger generation showing gratitude to the older generation."