Maliki: Trust needed to boost social cohesion

Trust between different groups here is necessary to strengthen Singapore's social cohesion, said Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman yesterday.

He was speaking to the media at an iftar, or breaking of fast, for more than 350 needy Muslim residents of East Coast GRC at Siglap Community Centre.

At the event, representatives of five religions - Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism - explained the practices and significance of fasting in their own traditions.

Dr Maliki pointed out that having faith leaders explain fasting showed that there were "commonalities" among the different religious groups.

"It is important for the community to build bonds and deepen trust at every opportunity," said Dr Maliki, who is also the Mayor for the South East District.

Last week, it was announced that Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, had become the first woman here to be detained under the Internal Security Act for radicalism. The contract infant care assistant at a pre-school had actively posted and shared pro-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria material online, and developed a network of foreign online contacts.

Such incidents could put stress on Singapore's social cohesion, which has been built up in the 51 years since independence, Dr Maliki said.

He encouraged the Muslim community here to reach out to other communities and show that they condemn such radical ideas.

It is important to build trust between different ethnic and religious groups, "to withstand any possible shocks that may come our way", he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'Maliki: Trust needed to boost social cohesion'. Print Edition | Subscribe