Patron’s Note on IRO 70th Anniversary
“Singapore might just be the world’s most religiously diverse country. Here, you will find almost all the world’s religions living together harmoniously. This is the exception rather than the norm. It is only possible because generations of Singaporeans have worked hard to make racial and religious diversity our strength, not our weakness.
In 1949, the IRO began as an unprecedented, far-sighted ground-up effort to bring people of different religions together. That the IRO has endured for 70 years since is testament to the belief and work of its past and present leaders. Through its form and its deeds, the IRO has embodied the themes of this year’s Singapore Bicentennial of openness, multiculturalism, and self-determination.
Since taking on the role as patron to the IRO in November 2018, I have seen personally how the IRO has taken bold new steps to promote inter-religious understanding and reach out to a wider audience of Singaporeans. The commitment and close ties among religious leaders in the IRO and in Singapore is one we should cherish and nurture.
In the coming years, I encourage all religious leaders to work closely together on three priorities. First, preserve and grow our common space in society, even as we practise our own religions. Second, speak out against segregationist practices, hate speech and online falsehoods. Third, enhance day-to-day interactions between different communities by providing opportunities to work and play together for the common good.
I congratulate the IRO on 70 years of accomplishments and contributions to Singapore. May the IRO continue to enhance its reach, spread its influence, and strengthen our religious harmony.”