July dedicated as Racial and Religious Harmony Month in Singapore

Activities will be organised throughout the month to celebrate and promote racial and religious harmony.

Farhana Subuhan

Published: 6 March 2023, 5:08 PM

The month of July will be dedicated as the Racial and Religious Harmony Month starting this year, announced Minister of State Alvin Tan at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Committee of Supply Debate on Monday (Mar 6).

This is on top of the designation of Jul 21 as Racial Harmony Day.

Throughout July, activities will be organised by the Racial and Religious Harmony Circles and community partners to celebrate and promote racial and religious harmony.

The Harmony Circles, previously known as the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles when it was formed in 2002, are local-level inter-faith platforms formed to promote racial and religious harmony in every constituency. It is a community initiative headed by the MCCY.

MCCY also has plans to help its Harmony Circles to “digitalise and diversify their composition”.

This is to ensure that they will continue to stay relevant and effective at fostering harmony in the community, especially in light of news reports that youths are being radicalised online.

In February, the Internal Security Department (ISD) detained a 15-year-old student under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrosism-related activities in support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Mr Tan citied the Eunos Harmony Circle as an example. He said leaders in that circle have been recruiting youths and used social media to urge their communities and the public to stay united.

He shared that the MCCY hopes more Harmony Circles will follow suit. More youths, females and representatives from other religious and community organisations will also start their new term as Harmony Circle leaders next month, where they will “receive training on mediation, interfaith and digital media”, said Mr Tan.

Religious organisations and individuals who are passionate about interfaith and inter-racial work can join the local Harmony Circle, Mr Tan added.

“We are working hard to help our Harmony Circles digitalise and diversify their composition, so they continue to be relevant and effective at fostering harmony in our communities,” Mr Tan said.

Community initiatives like the Harmony Circles and the SG Mental Well-Being Network, which was launched in 2022, need more volunteers and coordination, said Mr Tan. This is where the SG Cares movement can come in to make volunteering more sustainable and effective.

“SG Care Volunteer Centres coordinate efforts to channel volunteers and donations-in-kind to unmet local needs. In the past year, the total number of volunteers and beneficiaries grew by 67 per cent and 50 per cent respectively,” he said, adding that in total, volunteer centres have engaged 45,000 volunteers and served 340,000 beneficiaries.

Mr Tan also implored for more youths and professionals to volunteer their time, skills and expertise.

“Individuals, schools and corporates who wish to volunteer your time and talents can find your nearest Volunteer Centre on our SG Cares website,” he said.

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