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No illusions about depth of religious fault lines: PM Lee

27 Aug 2019 < 1 min read

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There is a need to continue managing religious harmony in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, given the prevailing trends towards “intolerance, extremism and inter-religious strife” in the region as well as the proliferation of social media, making it easier for people to cause offence.

Speaking at the Inter-Religious Organisation’s (IRO) 70th anniversary dinner on 26 August 2019, Mr Lee noted that Singapore has suffered religious strife in the past. “We have no illusions about the depth of the religious fault lines in our society, and the harm that will befall us if we neglect to manage them,” he added.

However, PM Lee pointed out that Singapore has made great strides in building mutual trust and confidence in the decades since independence.

The Government has never had to invoke its powers under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, a law passed in 1990 to set the ground rules for all groups, in the last 30 years, PM added. That said, the situation has changed significantly since the law’s inception. “The proliferation of social media has made it much easier for people to cause offence through spreading vitriol and falsehoods, and for others to take offence,” Mr Lee said.

PM Lee also announced that amendments to the law will be tabled in Parliament next week to allow the authorities to deal with new threats “comprehensively and in a timely manner”. Religious leaders have been widely consulted and the Government is “very grateful” for their support, he added.