Dr Janil Puthucheary, Chairman, OnePeople.sg
Chief Executives of the Self-Help Groups
Today, we come together to demonstrate our commitment to racial and religious
harmony at this year's Orange Ribbon Run and Walk. This year's event is
especially significant, as we celebrate SG50 this year – 50 years of progress,
peace and harmony. But this was not always the case. We started out as a
divided society, torn apart by racial tensions. Lives were lost, and
hundreds were injured in the racial riots of 1964.
2. When we became independent, our
founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and his multi-racial Cabinet team,
worked hand in hand with our pioneers, to build a multi-racial and
multi-religious Singapore. Our forefathers came together to build a Singaporean
Singapore, anchored on principles of meritocracy, equality and opportunities
for all, regardless of race, language or religion.
3. These were not just lofty ideals,
but put into action through policies and programmes that enlarged the common
space, to unite all Singaporeans. Public housing, schools, and our bilingual
policy brought families of all races and religions together, while allowing
each community to maintain strong links to its language, culture and roots.
Just as importantly, our various communities were committed to work together to
strengthen our social harmony.
4. Today, Singapore is the most
religiously diverse country in the world, yet we live in harmony. We see this
unity in diversity in our schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods. This is the
beauty of our multi-cultural way of life.
5. But, as we have seen from our own
history and from communal conflicts in other countries, racial and religious
harmony is something we must never take for granted. It takes sustained, hard
work to maintain this peace and harmony, but it takes little time or effort to
damage or even destroy our social fabric.
6. Through the Orange Ribbon Run and
Walk led by One People.sg, close to 7,000 people, whether individuals, or from
community, religious, and corporate groups, have come forward to lend your
voice against racial discrimination and prejudice, and in support of peace and
harmony in Singapore. I am particularly delighted to learn that many
youths including our national athletes and footballers from FAS and S. League
Clubs have supported this movement as participants and volunteers. OnePeople.sg
has also partnered the Ministry of Education for the second year, to provide
opportunities for Primary 4 students to nurture inter-ethnic friendships.
7. Let us stay united and reiterate
the values that we stand for: mutual respect, understanding and trust,
regardless of race or religion. Let us do our part to protect the precious
legacy of racial and religious harmony that our forefathers have left for us.
8. I wish everyone an enjoyable and
Research Center, April 2014, "Global Religious Diversity: Half of the Most
Religiously Diverse Countries are in Asia-Pacific Region"