Inter-faith concert gets strong show of support

An inter-faith concert organised by New Creation Church and the Taoist Federation (Singapore) garnered strong attendance last night as the crowd celebrated religious and racial harmony in Singapore on its Golden Jubilee.

Some 4,000 people were at the "Harmony in Diversity" concert at The Star Performing Arts Centre located in Buona Vista.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the guest of honour.

He arrived there after joining Muslims in breaking fast at the newly renovated Al-Ansar Mosque in Bedok, an event attended by some 400 congregants.

Last night's concert was the first time that two faith groups teamed up for such a production. It also marked the 51st anniversary of the 1964 race riots.

Show highlights included a taiji and silat joint martial arts performance by exponents of the Wudang Sheng Hong Health Preservation Centre and Perguruan Sim Putih, a dance number by the Baha'i Community of Singapore, a song by the 150-strong Combined Canossian Schools choir, and a tribute in song to the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

But the act that stole the show was a performance by the religious leaders themselves. New Creation Church chairman - Deacon Matthew Kang - and Taoist Federation (Singapore) chairman Tan Thiam Lye teamed up to sing the popular Hokkien song "Little Umbrella" to loud applause.

The song, which is about two people who share a small umbrella in the pouring rain, represents the closeness and co-operation between two parties as a way to withstand trials along the way.

Deacon Kang said after the performance that the concerted efforts of political, religious and community leaders are needed to build a strong national identity and harmony in a society that is as diverse as Singapore.

"That is why the many religions and races in Singapore decided to pool resources together to put up tonight's concert," he added.

Earlier, PM Lee toured the Al-Ansar Mosque, viewing its heritage wall, and signature blue minaret and new dome.

Accompanying him were Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs; Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin; Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, and Muslim community and mosque leaders as well as grassroots leaders.

Dr Yaacob said PM Lee was impressed with the upgrading, and the ability to cater to a wider cross-section of the community - the elderly, families and youth.

The upgraded mosque reopened in April this year.

Facilities at the mosque now include barrier-free access, a new family prayer area on the first floor and 4,500 prayer spaces - up from 3,500 previously.

This article was first published on July 7, 2015.
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