Hold cohesiveness conference more often, Halimah urges

President Halimah Yacob said initiatives such as the International Conference on Cohesive Societies helped to promote understanding between the different faiths as well as combat exclusivity, which is growing in strength around the world.
President Halimah Yacob said initiatives such as the International Conference on Cohesive Societies helped to promote understanding between the different faiths as well as combat exclusivity, which is growing in strength around the world.PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF NURSES

International Conference on Cohesive Societies helps to promote greater understanding between faiths, she says

The religious communities in Singapore are part of global communities, and so, what happens overseas will have an impact and influence here, President Halimah Yacob said yesterday.

Therefore, she said, initiatives such as the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS) could be held regularly to promote greater understanding between different faiths.

"If you look at globalism today, it is something that is very much driven by the business world, driven by the financial world, which does not necessarily encourage people to come together," said Madam Halimah.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the 16th Inter Racial Inter Religious Harmony Nite at Marina Bay Sands.

She said: "Therefore, I hope that we could have the ICCS held on a more regular basis, every two years perhaps. And that will encourage the national religious communities, the national key leaders of all levels, plus the global leaders as well, to come together to discuss this very important topic of social cohesion, sharing of faith, and harmony and understanding."

Mooted by President Halimah last year, the first edition of the ICCS took place last month.

Around 1,000 delegates from nearly 40 countries attended the three-day conference.

They included academics, government officials and members of religious and civil society groups to discuss broader issues around faith, identity and cohesion.

 
 
 

It was organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

The ICCS helped to promote understanding between the different faiths as well as combat exclusivity, which is growing in strength around the world, said Madam Halimah.

She added that it also helped to promote pluralism and build "networks of peace" around the world.

At the event last night, Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society chairman Lee Kim Siang said the co-existence of racial and religious groups in Singapore did not happen by chance.

Instead, it was the result of "sound governance, deliberate policies and careful planning", said Mr Lee. He added that everyone had a part to play to foster interaction with one another in their everyday lives, including with new citizens and migrant workers.

The Inter Racial Inter Religious Harmony Nite saw cultural performances representing the four main ethnic groups in Singapore - Malays, Indians, Chinese and Eurasians.

Leaders of nine religions, who are members of the Inter-Religious Organisation, read invocations to kick off the event.

The Declaration of Religious Harmony, a pledge to uphold racial and religious harmony, was also recited in the four main languages - Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English.

More than 2,200 Singaporeans, as well as ambassadors and diplomats from 14 countries, attended the event.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 07, 2019, with the headline 'Hold cohesiveness conference more often, Halimah urges'. Print Edition | Subscribe