Speech by DPM and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Teo Chee Hean, at the 100th anniversary dinner of Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple on 26 September 2017.
“Celebrating Racial & Religious Harmony, Building a Cohesive Society”
种族与宗教和谐是建国总理李光耀先生和先辈们 制定的核心国策。五十二年来，我国各种族和宗教共同努力， 建设了一个具有凝聚力的社会。
Now, let me continue with a few words in English.
Congratulations to Sheng Hong Temple on your 100th anniversary. Thank you for inviting me and many of my colleagues to this significant milestone.
Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-religious country. Tonight, representatives of different races and faiths have come together, to sit and eat at the same tables, and celebrate the rich heritage and achievements of Sheng Hong Temple and of Singapore.
We must continue to work hard to promote racial and religious harmony. We have seen conflicts and clashes among ethnic and religious groups in our region and many places in the world. What has enabled us to maintain our precious harmony?
We must continue to reach out to each other, adopt inclusive practices and social norms that allow all Singaporeans to interact freely, and enlarge our common space.
Our pioneer leaders have worked hard to promote racial and religious harmony among all communities. We created important institutions, laws and regulations to help prevent conflict and keep us together. This has laid a strong foundation for our progress. Singaporeans of all races and faiths now live together in HDB precincts and blocks, study together in national schools, eat together in food centres, serve National Service together and work together.
We made changes to our parliamentary system to have Group Representation Constituencies to assure our minority communities that they will always have representation in Parliament. More recently, we have also made important changes so that members of the major racial communities in Singapore can hold the highest office of President if this has not happened after five continuous terms, or thirty years. President Madam Halimah Yacob is our first President from the Malay community in 47 years. She is a strong unifying figure. All communities have supported her nomination. Let us give her our full support.
Some Singaporeans have asked why it is necessary to have the reserved election provisions, GRCs, or ethnic integration rules for our HDB estates since we already enjoy racial and religious peace and harmony. Perhaps we don’t need them anymore.
The reason that we are able to maintain our racial and religious harmony is because we have been far-sighted enough to put in place these provisions, to avoid arriving at situations where our estates are segregated by race, or our minority communities worry about representation in Parliament or the highest office in our land.
These provisions have helped us achieve the precious harmony that we have. We all hope that one day we will not need them. But in the face of growing racial and religious strife in our region and the world, it is wiser to have these provisions in place to maintain our harmony. It is particularly important that the Chinese community in Singapore supports these provisions, so that our minority communities in Singapore will always feel assured.
I would like to thank the Taoist community for your contributions to racial and religious harmony. The Sheng Hong Temple for instance, is active in the Inter-Religious Organisation. You have also reached out to other faiths to organise joint events and promote mutual trust and understanding.
Allow me to congratulate Sheng Hong Temple again on your joyous occasion.
Please continue your good work for the Taoism community and for racial and religious harmony in Singapore in your next 100 years. Thank you.
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