SINGAPORE - For racial harmony to prevail in the next 50 years, the young must learn how to tolerate each other's religion and race, former president S R Nathan said on Sunday morning (Aug 9).
Speaking to the media after an interfaith National Day Observance Ceremony, he said: "Our young must learn how to tolerate each other- each other's religion, each other's race, each other's language, and think of ourselves as Singaporean."
Mr Nathan, who suffered a stroke in April this year, walked with help this morning at the event. He told the media that he is improving, and that he can now walk short distances.
He joined representatives from 10 religious groups in listening to the recording of the founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew reading the Proclamation of Independence at the Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple in Paya Lebar. The groups are from the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO).
Mr Nathan recounted people's fears during Separation in 1965.
"The feeling then was 'What are we going to do? We have got two million people to feed. We have no economy. How are we going to survive?" he said.
Today, 50 years later, he said he is happy that Singapore can tell the world that it has the strength to stand up.
In a speech to the more than 1,000 people, he said that it is the indomitable will of the people together with the determined leadership that has brought the country forward.
"In the next 50 years, let us show others why the same indomitable sprit will also take us to the next 50 years," he said.
Separately, a special prayer session was held at the Sree Maha Mariamman Temple to pray for the nation's continued excellence, exuberance and elegance, a representative of the temple said.
Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah graced the occasion, and joined about 400 people in the prayers.
She told The Straits Times that she was thankful to the pioneer generation, and late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team for transforming Singapore into what it is today.