No Christian agenda, says group promoting honour

SINGAPORE - The people behind a new group urging a culture of honour came together as friends, said its founder Lim Siong Guan, downplaying their common Christian ties.

"A group of us who have known one another for many years, and who all think the same way about wanting Singapore to be a place of peace and stability, decided to set up Honour (Singapore)," said Mr Lim, who is also the group president of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.

"Honour (Singapore) is not a Christian or religious organisation... We are not an advocacy group on issues of Government or public policies," he said, in response to queries from The Straits Times yesterday.

The group was launched on Aug 5 and quickly attracted criticism online. Netizens pointed out that all five members of its board are from Christian organisation Full Gospel Business (FGB) Singapore. FGB trains its members to make a difference in society.

Alongside Mr Lim, the other members are Mr Jason Wong, Mr Richard Magnus, Mr Khoo Oon Theam and Mr Georgie Lee.

Mr Khoo, for instance, is the president of FGB's board. Save for Mr Wong, who is an elder in the organisation, the other members also hold positions on FGB's board.

The office of non-profit group Honour is also listed under the same address as FGB.

Mr Lim, who used to head the civil service, said the same address is used so as "to save costs and start (the group) as soon as possible", before this year's National Day and Singapore's 50th birthday next year.

In the meantime, he said the group welcomes any offer of alternative space at "suitably attractive rentals".

Asked how it will draw the line between secular and religious approaches, he replied that its board members have worked, or are working, in secular organisations and know the boundaries.

Mr Wong, for example, initiated the Yellow Ribbon Project, which has benefited thousands of former offenders and their families.

Mr Lim said Honour will collaborate - on invitation - with schools, parents, businesses and community groups.

The group also has a panel of 10 community advisers to provide guidance on how to reach out. It includes Lien Foundation chairman Laurence Lien and Haji Mohammad Alami Musa, the president of Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura.

Details of the group's programmes will be released at a later date. So far, only its website has gone live.

Mr Lim believes that the group should be judged by its activities. "We should be judged by our actions and not by our race or religion," he said.

About the group

Non-profit organisation Honour (Singapore) was launched last week to promote "a culture of honour and honouring".

Its vision is for Singapore to be a nation "where honour and honouring are well understood and widely practised".

It is founded by Mr Lim Siong Guan, former head of the civil service and the group president of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC.

The group defines honour as having two dimensions - to honour one's word and to honour each other.

It said this should be recognised as one of the factors behind the country's success in the last 50 years, and should be applied at home, at work and during discussions, especially with the "increasing desire by citizens to speak out on a widening array of national issues".

This article was first published on August 16, 2014.
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