Constant effort needed for harmonious society: Tharman

Constant effort needed for harmonious society: Tharman
Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam receiving an anonymous donation on behalf of the IRO last night. Also at the cheque presentation were IRO president Gurmit Singh (left) and Imam Habib Hassan.

A harmonious society is not to be taken for granted and requires continuous effort, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday, as he reiterated a point made by the Prime Minister last week.

Speaking as guest of honour at a gathering of the Inter-Religious Organisation Singapore (IRO), Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, said even a cohesive society can break apart quickly and has to be continually strengthened.

At the 66th anniversary dinner of the IRO last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said the Government would continue to be watchful, prudent and hands-on in its approach towards matters of race and religion.

Last night, about 50 people representing 10 religions were in attendance as Mr Tharman received, on behalf of the IRO, a $100,000 cheque for Nepal.

The donation, from an IRO council member who chose to remain anonymous, will help provide shelter to quake victims in Nepal, especially children.

The fact that Singaporeans are reaching outwards shows there is compassion and empathy within its own society, said Mr Tharman.

"The way in which Singaporeans have become more aware and more concerned about the problems in the rest of the world... is part and parcel of the strengthening of our society. It also goes together with people being more aware and concerned about everyone in their midst.

"That is a very positive development."

IRO president Gurmit Singh said: "We ought to extend our hearts and hands to those in need, to help cushion their pains."

The donation will help to fund relief efforts by the Corporate Citizen Foundation (CCF) in Nepal.

The Singapore-based foundation is a private-sector initiative made up of companies such as HSL Constructor, a local civil engineering and construction firm.

CCF is currently working with three Nepalese institutions to help in areas such as clean water and food distribution.

"Temporary shelters to replace tents and sanitation facilities will need to be urgently built with the impending monsoon just weeks from now," said Mr Wong Chin Sing, 57, CCF's director.

This article was first published on May 20, 2015.
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