Hello Mr. Wang,
My name is Gregory Hoffman, and I am a High School student in Miami, Florida. In the coming weekend, I am representing Singapore in a Model U.N. competition. I will be the delegate for Singapore. In the general assembly, we will attempt to create a resolution on two primary topics: religious intolerance, and the situation in Afghanistan.
In researching I have found very unreliable information throughout the web on religious tolerance(or intolerance) in Singapore. I understand Article 12 of the constitution of Singapore gives equality to all citizens of Singapore, and clearly states that discrimination on the ground of religion is prohibited. Furthermore, Article 15 speaks upon the freedom of religion within Singapore. That said, I am aware in the middle of the 1900's a few riots occurred. Since then( preferably more recently), what has Singapore done to promote religious tolerance? In the model U.N., I must represent my country's interests and work towards a resolution with other countries with similiar interests. Any help you are able to give would be GREATLY appreciated.
Thank you very much,
Here is the 2-cents-worth reply which I dashed out in a few minutes:
Hi Gregory:As an afterthought, I sent the following additional note:
You are referring to the Maria Hertogh riots in 1950. At that time, Singapore was not a sovereign nation yet. Therefore the Constitution you refer to did not exist at that time. Singapore only became an independent nation in 1965.
I might as well add at this time that for any country, what the constitution says and what actually happens in the country can turn out to be quite different. A constitution is a paper document, and while paper documents can espouse high ideals, they cannot actually stop people from physically fighting in the streets.
In general, Singapore has been a very peaceful nation since 1965. There have been no noteworthy incidents of religious violence since then. In fact Singapore is one of the rare places in the world where you will find, say, a church built on the same street as a temple, or a temple next door to a mosque.
The government here is determined to maintain religious (and racial) harmony. It is a point that they have consistently reiterated through the years. It was a point to which the Prime Minister devoted a significant part of his speech in the most recent National Day Rally (which is traditionally one of the most important political speeches that the Prime Minister makes, in any given year).
Having said that, I should add that while the government treats all mainstream religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism) with respect, its treatment of minority groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses can be rather shoddy. But I will leave you to your own Internet research.
The clue in my earlier email might have been a little too subtle. So here's the main thing - google straight for the PM's most recent rally speech. The PM is quite long-winded, and prone to repeating old news. So his speech will cover your question - "what has Singapore done to promote religious tolerance?" - quite adequately.