'Carry on forging racial harmony'

'Carry on forging racial harmony'
Sikhs offering prayers and thanks at the Ang Mo Kio tribute site. (Above) Some 3,000 foreign workers visited a tribute corner in Tuas View Dormitory to sign a condolence book and observe a few moments of silence.

Singapore's special brand of religious and racial harmony owes much to the vision of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

And Singaporeans must now ensure that even greater understanding is forged through education and continuing dialogue between the different groups.

IRO president Gurmit Singh said Mr Lee had long encouraged religious groups to interact with one another, since Singapore became independent in 1965.

"By constantly communicating and working together, the different groups have developed close ties. We must continue to educate the young and build on these ties," he said.

At the service at the IRO's Palmer Road office, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad said Mr Lee's emphasis on treating Singaporeans fairly regardless of race and religion was key to nation-building.

The service was attended by about 300 members of the public and representatives of the 10 major religions. They observed a minute of silence and penned tributes in a book - just one of a host of events for Singapore's founding father.

Separately, some 30 Bangladeshi workers chose to show their respect by reciting poems and singing songs in his memory yesterday evening. They gathered in a Little India shophouse which serves as the office of the Bangladeshi newspaper, Banglar Kantha, which organised the hour-long service.

Banglar Kantha editor A.K.M Mohsin, 52, said many Bangladeshis have a deep respect for Mr Lee. He developed Singapore, which in turn provided them with jobs.

Shipyard worker Rajib Shil Jibon, 29, penned his own poem simply called Lee Kuan Yew.

"I was filled with so much emotion as I thought of him. He has made Singapore successful and helped foreign workers get good jobs and improved our lives. I will be thankful forever," he said.

At the Tuas View Dormitory for foreign workers, a tribute corner was set up in Mr Lee's memory. Around 3,000 foreign workers visited the site, signed a condolence book and observed a few moments of silence as a mark of respect.

At another event, leaders and members of Sikh institutions visited the Ang Mo Kio community tribute site and were received by Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh. The group, who was accompanied by a priest, offered a prayer.

Prayers were also said at Sikh temples across Singapore in Mr Lee's honour and Central Sikh Gurdwara Board president Gurcharan Singh offered a eulogy at the Central Sikh Temple. A video of Mr Lee's visits to Sikh institutions over the years was also screened.

Yesterday, 5,000 students, teachers, parents and alumni from the Methodist Schools' Foundation dedicated a 4km walk to Mr Lee. The biennial event is part of a fund-raising drive for the 16 schools under the foundation. Organisers decided to use the walk to pay tribute to Mr Lee's memory.

"My parents tell me Mr Lee was an influential leader and a good role model. He believed a lot in education. It is thanks to him that I have such good teachers," said Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary) student Joshua Ho, 13.

This morning, the Singapore Jain Religious Society will hold a prayer meeting in memory of Mr Lee on its Jalan Yasin premises.


This article was first published on Mar 29, 2015.
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