DPM Teo Chee Hean at the 85th Anniversary Gala Dinner of Jamiyah Singapore

SM Teo Chee Hean | 14 October 2017 | Singapore

"Strengthening Multi-Religious Relations for a Harmonious, Secure, and Caring Society”.


Congratulations to Jamiyah Singapore on your 85th anniversary.

Celebrating Jamiyah’s Achievements

The late Maulana Abdul Aleem Siddique, founded Jamiyah in 1932 to spread the message of Islam and devoted his efforts to helping those in need. This was a very important contribution he made to Singapore - He also pioneered the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) in 1949 to foster greater understanding and respect among faiths. This has provided very important foundation for inter-faith peace and harmony in Singapore.

It is encouraging that Jamiyah is carrying on the good work and offering a wide range of social services for all communities, regardless of race, language or religion. Recently, Jamiyah initiated new projects to help those in need such as expanding your food distribution programme and opening Jamiyah @ West Coast to focus on youth development. Your health talks on diabetes also help members to pick up new habits and lead healthier lives.

Religion is a powerful force for peace and good, unity and harmony. But it can also be misused for extremism and violence, which can divide and polarise societies. Where religion is overlaid upon differences in race or language, the situation can be even more sensitive.

We need to draw upon the inherent good in religion to help strengthen the societies we live in, and avoid the pitfalls that the misuse of religion can draw our societies into. This is important for all communities, but particularly for minority communities, as minorities can thrive best in an open and welcoming society, and are conscribed the most when societies are divided.

Inter-faith peace and harmony did not come easy for Singapore and it remains critical for us. Today, we can still see much strife and religious conflict even in our own region. The efforts by organisations such as Jamiyah are particularly precious to help safeguard social and religious harmony in Singapore. By working together, doing good, all faiths and communities can strengthen multi-religious relations for a more harmonious, secure and caring society.

By working together, and doing good together, all faiths and communities can strengthen multi-religious relations for a more harmonious, secure and caring Singapore.

DPM Teo Chee Hean

Promoting Mutual Understanding and Respect Among Communities

So, how do we promote mutual understanding and respect among all communities? First,all faiths and communities in Singapore can help to promote mutual understanding and respect. The Internet and social media have become a conduit for irresponsible individuals who denigrate other cultures and religions to inflame tensions and sow discord among communities. We must take a firm stand to reject extremism and never allow extremist ideology and segregationist practices to undermine our social harmony.

Many governments, including Singapore, have taken a strong stand on divisive teachings by preachers of any religion, practices or statements that could cause ill-will among communities. Malaysia for example, banned a Muslim preacher last year, and Singapore has done so recently for two Muslim and two Christian preachers. These preachers encouraged intolerance and disrespect for the followers of other faiths, and would have sown discord and disharmony if allowed to propagate their views in multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore.

Instead of focusing on our differences, we should enlarge our common space, celebrate our commonalities, and consciously work towards the common good for nation and community. Our religious institutions and places of worship welcome people of all faiths to visit and participate in their festivities. We must continue to strengthen the friendships and develop trust among Singaporeans from different cultures and religions.

Safeguarding our Security Together

Second, we must be prepared as a society to safeguard our security and bounce back stronger if terror strikes against the fabric of our society. Attackers claiming to act in the name of Islam have unfortunately led to a rise in Islamophobia in some countries, triggering negative reactions among other communities. The arrests of self-radicalised individuals in Singapore has also reaffirmed the need for us to stay united and stay strong. We should be on same side - All of us remaining united against those who seek to divide and preach extremism.

Our asatizah are well-positioned to impart religious knowledge from credible sources that is contextualised to our multi-religious society. I am glad that the Muslim community has also supported making the Asatizah Recognition Scheme mandatory for religious leaders. These community efforts are important to help prevent and deal with the threat of extremism and violence.

Individuals who show signs of being radicalised can be saved. Our Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG)’s Resource and Counselling Centre has helped to save several of such individuals. I hope that Jamiyah members can work with the RRG to raise awareness and refer those at risk to seek religious and psychological counselling by the RRG and its counsellors. This will help save these individuals from harming themselves, and others, and bringing even more distress to their loved ones. The message is that we can save them.

A Caring Society Regardless of Race, Language or Religion

Third, all faiths and communities can look out for one another and build a caring society, regardless of race, language or religion.

SG Cares or Singapore Cares, is the national movement dedicated to building a strong civic culture and supporting one another. If more Singaporeans step forward and volunteer their time and support, we can build a caring and inclusive home for all by doing good together for all Singaporeans and all races.

Jamiyah has been working with partners such as the Singapore Soka Association, the Buddhist Lodge and Hindu Endowments Board for youths to distribute “Roses of Peace” which carry the messages of inter-faith harmony. These simple acts go a long way to strengthen the trust, unity and resilience that we aspire to for our society.


By working together, and doing good together, all faiths and communities can strengthen multi-religious relations for a more harmonious, secure and caring Singapore. And we can propagate this aournd the world for a more harmonious, secure and peaceful world. I wish Jamiyah many more years of successful service for the community and our nation. Congratulations once again on your 85th anniversary. Thank you.