Singapore Soka Association Participates in Interfaith Event
On January 2, 2007 some 2,000 delegates from almost all religious organizations in Singapore gathered for a dinner reception at Singapore Expo Hall. Among those attending were some 60 representatives from the Singapore Soka Association (SSA) led by SSA Chairman Ong Bon Chai. Participants were encouraged to sit with those from different faiths than their own as a way to promote dialogues that would further understanding and friendship. The Ba'alwi Mosque, the Catholic Archdiocese, the Hindu Endowments Board and the Singapore Taoist Federation organized the interfaith event, that was also supported by 21 other organizations including the Inter Religious Organizations (IRO) and SSA. Guest of Honor for the evening was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In his speech, Mr. Lee stated, "To root out the stereotypes and prejudices that form the fault lines in a multi-religious society, it is crucial to have a process of dialogue and engagement. Such dialogue is not aimed at achieving agreement, but at building a relationship." He further added, "In a troubled world, we have made ourselves an oasis where we can live in peace and harmony together. What we have achieved, very few others have done. We must treasure this and do our best to keep it this way. Every religious group will be protected and assured of fair treatment, but no group should press its claims too hard to the exclusion of others. This is the accommodation that we have come to accept in Singapore."
Part of the event's proceedings included 10 religious leaders standing together on the stage and offering a joint prayer. The event was preceded by a program launched in 2006 that brought together leaders from different religious groups. Some 20 SSA men and young men supported the January 2 event as ushers.
[Adapted from an article in the January 17, 2007 issue of the SSA Times, Singapore Soka Association]