SPEECH BY MR. ASHVIN DESAI, PRESIDENT INTER-RELIGIOUS ORGANISATION AT THE IRO DAY 2012 CHARITY DINNER HELD AT GRAND BALLROOM, GRAND PARK CITY HALL HOTEL ON 18 MARCH 2012 AT 7.30PM
Our Guest of Honour
Mr. S. R. Nathan
Former President of the Republic of Singapore
and Patron of Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore
Religious and Community leaders
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore – IRO, it is indeed my pleasure, to extend a warm welcome to all of you, to IRO Day 2012 Charity Dinner.
Today is a very special day for IRO. Not only are we celebrating the 63rd Anniversary of the founding of IRO, but today we are also officially appointing, Mr. S. R. Nathan, as the first patron of the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore.
Mr. S. R. Nathan is well loved by many Singaporeans and has served Singapore well, with an illustrious career, holding key positions in security, intelligence and foreign affairs, and also chairing various companies, social and academic institutions. He was our country’s 6th President from September 1999 to August 2011. With two terms and 12 years in office, he is Singapore’s longest-serving President.When IRO decided to appoint its first Patron, Mr. Nathan was the ideal choice. IRO being an NGO, wanted someone who was neutral, and not in a political position. Also during his years of public service, Mr. Nathan has always been a strong advocate of Inter-faith efforts.
Mr. Nathan, we are extremely honored and privileged, that you have kindly consented to be IRO patron. Please accept our sincere appreciation and also our heartiest congratulations, on your appointment. We at IRO are looking forward to working closely with you, in the years to come. We are confident that your insight and guidance, will bring IRO to even greater heights.
IRO was founded exactly 63 years ago today, on 18 March 1949. Since its humble beginnings, it has worked quietly, to promote peace and religious harmony in Singapore. Over the years, IRO has made tremendous strides, and strives to be a strong platform for inter-religious and inter-racial interaction, and confidence building in Singapore.
In the last year, IRO has initiated dialogues with our strategic partners such as MCYS and Onepeople.sg to work on common areas, to promote inter-faith harmony in Singapore. We are currently working on developing programs with Onepeople.sg, that will be used to educate and broaden inter-ethnic and religious understanding. IRO will also be having a new website, which will ready soon.
I am also glad to report that IRO has just recently moved to bigger premises in Palmer House. We are extremely grateful to “Alice Lim Memorial Fund”, late mother of Mr. Benny Lim, and our beloved Syed Habib Hassan and other well wishers, in arranging the lease of the new premises and also renovating it with no cost to IRO. Syed Hassan was not only instrumental in making the arrangements, but also personally, supervised the renovations. Thanks to their generosity and love of IRO we now have a nice centralized office in the city area which can be used for various activities. The IRO office in Geylang will still be used and will become the home base for the IRO Women of Faith and IRO Youths. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Lee Bock Guan for his continuous generosity and support for IRO, in allowing the use of the premises.
IRO regularly conducts inter-faith prayers and blessings for various, public and private institutions and ceremonies. Led by Mr. Harbans Singh, they have become the public eye of IRO. I would like to thank each of them and their respective faiths and organisations for their continued service and dedication.
Today’s dinner, has also been organised as a fund raiser, for much needed funds, for IRO. As many of you are aware, IRO does not receive any direct funding from any sources. It is fully dependent on donations, to fund all their activities and to cover its regular operating expenses. The response for this charity dinner has been very encouraging, and I am happy to report that we have surpassed our target of $100,000. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of the donors who have purchased the donation and other tables and also those who are given outright donations both big and small.
Your kind heartedness and also presence here today, is surely a testimony of your strong support and commitment, to the cause of IRO. We truly appreciate and look forward to your continued support.
These funds will allow IRO to organise more activities and programs, especially for our youths and women and also to better educate the general public, on inter-religious issues.
IRO has been in existing for 63 years and it should work to ensure its continuity and relevance. With the emergence of social media, new challenges are in the horizon. It becomes more important for IRO to have a larger and better profile, among the general public, while maintaining its status of neutrality.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank the organising committee of today’s event, led by Mr. Ameerali Abdeali. They have worked very hard to make this an enjoyable and memorable evening for all.
IRO is a unique organisation in Singapore and we should all always work hard to support it and ensure its continuous growth. In the words of our patron Mr. S. R. Nathan “This kind of organisation is something every country has talked about but we are actually doing it.
Let me wish all of you, a pleasant evening ahead.