04 July 2018
The threat of severe public disorder loomed large after the Government uncovered the plot by 15 Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terrorists to bomb several targets in Singapore in 2001.
Reflecting on what he called the “most alarming experience” in his time as home affairs minister, Mr Wong Kan Seng noted that the 15 arrested were all Malay Muslims, adding that not getting the communication of this sensitive news right could have disastrous consequences. “If not handled well, we were going to have a lot of unease, which may even cause disturbances leading to disorder, which can lead to riots,” the former deputy prime minister said at a forum on religious harmony yesterday.
Organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, the one-day forum held at the Furama RiverFront Hotel focused on the role of the state and of religious leaders in fostering religious harmony in Singapore.
Speakers outlined broad trends affecting religious relations here, including the rise in religiosity and continuous efforts to integrate immigrants who may not be familiar with the emphasis Singapore places on religious harmony.
Turning to the role of state action and legislation, one speaker, Ambassador Alami Musa of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, suggested that the current legal framework for handling religious issues be broadened to cover intra-religious relations too, including ties between the Shia and Sunni communities within Islam.
He also advocated an entrenchment of secularism within the Singapore system, to better safeguard religious harmony for the long haul.
“Let’s try to embed it in our national DNA. Meaning the Constitution, meaning that no one, no political party or government can reject, or discard, the secular state ideology,” he said.
SRP / Online / Print
Last updated on 04/07/2018