Look beyond race and religion in showing love and care to others: Masagos Zulkifli

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli with volunteers at the Projek Ihsan donation drive on March 17, 2019.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli with volunteers at the Projek Ihsan donation drive on March 17, 2019.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans should look beyond race and religion in showing love and care to others, helping to prevent "disastrous and violent acts" such as the New Zealand mosque attacks, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said on Sunday (March 17).

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a donation drive at Tampines West Community Club that aims to collect Hari Raya apparel and accessories for families in need. The items will be distributed at the same venue over two days in May - first to underprivileged Muslim families living in Tampines, and subsequently to beneficiaries of any race and from any part of Singapore.

Mr Masagos said: "We should never take for granted the peace and harmony that we have in Singapore. It took a long time for us to get where we are today.

"Work that we are doing today for example - where the Muslim community gives away their pre-loved items that they used in the last Hari Raya, for everyone to benefit - is just the first step for them to show their care.

"We have to go beyond. We have to make sure that our care and love is regardless of whatever creed, whatever race we belong to. And in making that our habit and culture, we will build a community of care, love and harmony, and we will prevent such disastrous and violent acts from happening among us."

From May 6 to 17, a second donation drive will be held at the community club where people can also drop off food, drinks and other household items.

Called Projek Ihsan, this initiative is in its third year and aims to benefit 5,000 people, up from about 1,000 in 2017. Distribution will take place on May 25 and 26.

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, added: "This is a sign that we care for reusing and recycling; and making sure that whatever resources we have, we keep in the community and let other people benefit too."

Mr Ramlan Dollah, 57, who spearheaded the project, said it is common for Muslim families to spend up to $1,000 on new clothes for Hari Raya.

He is self-employed and runs a karaoke and wedding entertainment business. He said: "This will lighten the load on these families... I want to be a candle to brighten people's lives."