The Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme held the seventh run of its Executive Programme (EP) titled “Identity and Cohesion in Singapore: Intersections between Religion, Race, and Nationality” on 24 and 25 May 2022. This EP was significant for being the first in which race was explicitly included in the theme, the decision to do so reflecting the imbrication of race and religion in Singapore and the occurrence of high-profile race-related incidents. Forty-six participants, ranging from policy makers and public service officers to community and religious leaders, attended the event. There were sixteen speakers, and several sessions included a presentation by an academic before a response by a community respondent and a final Q&A.
On the first day, SRP’s Assoc Prof Paul Hedges led a session on theory, focusing on definitions of “minority” and setting the scene for the remainder of the programme. Dr Mathew Mathews of the Institute of Policy Studies then provided an overview of Singapore’s racial and religious diversity, including illuminating statistical and survey evidence. One of several highlights of the day was an interactive session led by Dr Orlando Woods of the Singapore Management University on the diversity among Singapore’s Christians and dynamics with new migrants.
On the second day, among other interesting sessions, Dr Francis Lim of the Nanyang Technological University led an illuminating session on Singapore’s minority Chinese religious groups, while Dr Indira Arumugam of the National University of Singapore discussed shifting trends among Hindu communities in Singapore. The EP wrapped up with a panel discussion on religious demography, immigration, and cohesion in Singapore, involving SRP Head Ambassador Mohammad Alami Musa, Mr Sengkuttuvan Kanniyappan of the Hindu Advisory Board, Ustazah Liyana Rosli Asmara of Harmony Centre, and Dr Alexius Pereira of the Eurasian Association.