SINGAPORE — Religious leaders in Singapore affirmed a new Social Defence Pledge to maintain solidarity during crisis moments, particularly amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The pledge was launched online on Tuesday (28 April), which is the 71st anniversary of the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore (IRO).
It is an extension of the “Commitment to Safeguard Religious Harmony” initiative, which was launched last year at the International Conference on Cohesive Societies. More than 250 religious organisations in Singapore had signed the commitment then to safeguard religious harmony in the wake of growing inter-ethnic tensions across the globe.
Minister and religious leaders commemorate anniversary
Leaders from the following faith communities – Hindu, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Taoist, Jain, Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Baha’i – joined Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu to commemorate the anniversary online.
“During these challenging times, IRO’s role has become even more critical,” Fu said during the online event.
“Our religious leaders are showing solidarity by finding different ways of giving hope and comfort to our communities. The fight against COVID-19 will be a long one. By staying united as one people, we will prevail, and emerge stronger from this crisis.”
Continuing inter-religious understanding despite challenges
IRO president, Venerable Seck Kwang Phing, said the pledge offers guidance to continue the development of inter-religious understanding during the challenge COVID-19 pandemic period.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives threatening our health, safety and jobs,” he said.
“While we are taking measures to cope with these issues, we must not be deterred from our long-term efforts to promote religious harmony. Initiatives to strengthen our social cohesion are even more vital now.”
IRO has continued to build online engagement among religious groups during the COVID-19 circuit breaker period. Last Friday, for example, its youth wing members organised a video meeting to join Muslim members in the breaking of the Ramadan fast. IRO has also regularly conducted online sharing sessions, lectures and interfaith prayers.
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