29 Aug 2015

The Orange Ribbon Run And Walk – Race Against Racism - Speech by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister For National Security And Minister For Home Affairs

Dr Janil Puthucheary, Chairman, OnePeople.sg

Presidents and Chief Executives of the Self-Help Groups

Community and Religious Leaders

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Evening


1.        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 meaningful evening. 

Thank you.


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