Explanation on the Declaration by the Religious Harmony Working Committee

 

The idea of having a Code on Religious Harmony was first proposed by PM Goh Chok Tong in October 2002.  A working committee chaired by Minister of State Chan Soo Sen subsequently worked with national bodies of all mainstream religious groups.  Collectively they came out with this Declaration on Religious Harmony.

The Declaration affirms the importance of, and Singaporeans’ commitment towards, religious harmony.  It is a basis for Singaporeans to reflect on religious harmony, and what should be done to achieve it.

An Inter-Religious Harmony Circle (IRHC) comprising representatives of all religious groups who worked out the Declaration, was formed to facilitate follow-ups of the Declaration.  To start with, IRHC has decided to encourage Singaporeans to recite the Declaration during the week of the Racial Harmony Day (on 21st July) every year.

This Declaration by the “people in Singapore”, including Singapore citizens, Permanent Residents or foreigners who work and live here temporarily or permanently.  Everyone has a stake and a part to play.  It recognizes that religious harmony is vital for the peace, progress, and prosperity in our multi-racial and multi-religious Nation.  Religious harmony can only be strengthened if we continue to practise mutal tolerance, confidence, respect and understanding.

 

The Declaration affirms five key values:

Firstly, we recognize the “secular nature of our State”.  This is to ensure what while Singapore is multi-racial and multi-religious, followers of all religions are equal in our society.

Secondly, we show our commitment towards promoting social cohesion in our society, and

Thirdly, respecting each other’s freedom of religion

Fourthly, we shall always “grow our common space” “while respecting our diversity”.  Bigger common space  does not have to be achieved at the expense of our individual identities.  With better understanding, both can grow together.

Last, but not least, we make efforts to “foster inter-religious communications”.  More communications always help reduce conflicts.

By practising these values, we will ensure that religion will not be abused to create conflict and disharmony in Singapore.  All religions believe in peace, love, and compassion.  We want to make sure adverse acts are not committed in the name of religions.