More than 1,000 religious leaders and members from 10 faiths, many dressed in religious attire, gathered to mark National Day at the Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple in Paya Lebar yesterday .
They said silent prayers for the nation, sang the National Anthem and recited the Pledge - hands on their hearts - vowing to remain "one united people, regardless of race, language or religion".
Joining them in the special inter-faith ceremony organised by the Taoist Federation and the temple, in partnership with the People's Association and the Inter-Religious Organisation, was former president S R Nathan.
Mr Nathan, 91, said that for such racial harmony to prevail in the next 50 years, the younger generation has to learn to live together despite differences. He told reporters: "Our young must learn how to tolerate each other - each other's religion, each other's race, each other's language, and think of ourselves as Singaporean."
Mr Nathan, who suffered a stroke in April this year and walked with some help, said that his health is improving, and that he can walk short distances now.
He recounted the fear of people in Singapore when they heard the Proclamation of Singapore over the radio in 1965.
"The feeling then was, 'What are we going to do? We have got two million people to feed. We have no economy. How are we going to survive?'" he said.
Today, 50 years on, he is glad that Singapore can tell the world that it has the strength to stand on its own feet.
In a short speech at the ceremony, Mr Nathan also said it is the indomitable will of the people, together with determined leadership, that has brought the country forward.
"In the next 50 years, let us show others why the same indomitable sprit will also take us to the next 50 years," he said.
Separately, special prayers were held at places of worship such as the Sree Maha Mariamman Temple in Yishun. The session was for Singapore to continue to excel, a representative said at the session attended by Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah and 400 worshippers.
This article was first published on August 10, 2015.
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