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Singapore’s unique secularism is a privilege

I refer to the commentary “KL atheist gathering stokes fire of religious intolerance” (Aug 23) and agree that “serious action should be considered against those who have made death threats to the group online”.

Sabaratnam Ratnakumar

I refer to the commentary “KL atheist gathering stokes fire of religious intolerance” (Aug 23) and agree that “serious action should be considered against those who have made death threats to the group online”.

Needless to say, while an attitude of live and let live should be the way forward, exclusivism in the name of racial, religious, language or caste supremacy and so on continues to thrive today.

We in Singapore are privileged, for the secularism here is unique. While our society is multi-religious, multiracial and multilingual, the Government keeps religion separate from politics.

Parliamentarians, ministers and government agents do not invoke their faith to support their argument.

The Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, enacted in 1990, remains a protection against the dangers of mixing politics and religion.

While religious groups enjoy equal protection and opportunity to thrive, they and their representatives are not allowed to interfere with the Government’s functions.

No one is discriminated against, resented or persecuted by the Government or fellow citizens because of his or her disbelief in God or religion.

As a Tamil Singaporean and moderate Hindu, I feel that no religion nor their leaders should fail to teach their followers to respect others, including the non-religious.

What the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew said in 1963 rings true. “If we were all to follow the teachings of Buddha or those who are Muslims to follow the teachings of Islam, or those who are Christians the teachings of Christ, then the world would be a very peaceful, a happy and a prosperous place to live in,” he said.

“It is when man fails to live up to the high precepts set by those who have blazed the trail before him to a happier and more peaceful society that often we run into travail.”

Individuals do have conflicting opinions about religion, so the Singapore Government has always been determined to “quell the fire” of intolerance, “bridge the ruptures in society” and maintain law and order.

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