"Sun, Feb 14, 2010 AsiaOne - Tolerance of other's beliefs
The Singapore Jain Religious Society opened up its new premises with Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong, as the Guest-of-Honour on Feb 13, 2010.
In his speech, SM GOh emphasised on religious and racial harmony. He cited an Italian who chose to become a Singaporean due to our peaceful tolerance of each other's differences.
He also stressed the need to practice and promote one's own religion with responsibility and not trivialise other's beliefs."
This is always a sensitive issue in multi-racial, multi-lingual, and multi-religious Singapore. We advocate freedom of religion. We also guard jealously the hard earned harmony among the believers of the various religions in Singapore with steely focus and determination. The out-of-bound markers (OB Markers) are clearly laid out for all people in Singapore on religious matters. It CANNOT be allowed to be violated or over-stepped without any serious consequences to the people who trespassed!
His comments is in response to a Christian church founder who had to apologize to other religious leaders for 'trivialising the other's beliefs' recently. The matter was highlighted by some netizens who chanced upon the video of the Pastor on the church's website. It alerted the ISD (Internal Security Department) to follow up the lead and deemed serious enough to formally warn the Pastor for this 'dangerously dividing' matter.
Lessons for me are:
1. religion is an emotional issue. When emotion is stirred and rationality will be pushed aside and rash and irrational and illogical behaviors may take place that destroy mutual respect for each other's religion. This will then lead to sharp conflict and other undesirable consequence to the harmony between the religions involved;
2. the OB Markers must be clearly understood by ALL people in Singapore so that they know what to focus on whenever they comment on the highlighted sensitive subjects. They must also clearly understood the legislative and other measures to be taken against violators will be swift, merciless, and firm! There will be NO ROOM for excuses of 'ignorance'!!;
3. it is great that the Pastor involved besides apologizing on the net media, also apologized in person to the leaders of the religions concerned. It is great PR and had done it better than how Toyota handled their recent massive cars recall!! At the same time, the leaders MUST be aware of their responsibility to keeping religious harmony a continued reality. The Pastor was merely given a warning, which some of us felt, had 'trivialized' the seriousness of the 'inadvertent behaviors'! Whatever it may be, the government will do well with sending out the message that 'any subsequent violators' will NOT get such lenient treatment!!
May Singapore continue to enjoy peace and stability from racial and religious harmony as everyone realized what they can and CANNOT over-do on racial and religious matters!!
p/s: Today is the 1st day of CNY Year of the Golden Tiger - All the best in your endeavours in the coming Golden Tiger Year!!