Singapore

Harmony train launched

The importance of harmony in the face of divisions is timely and a serious focus, in the light of recent terror attacks in Britain, Brussels and the Philippines, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

"When differences threaten to divide us, we have to remember our common goals," he said.

"We want our home to be a place offering good opportunities (for) all, (for) each to achieve personal aspirations and do our best for our loved ones; and a peaceful place, rich with genuine friendship and neighbourliness, where bonds of care and love help us over the bumps on the road."

Mr Heng was at the launch of the Harmony Train at HarbourFront MRT station yesterday morning.

He also noted the threat of self-radicalisation here. For instance, the case of infant care assistant Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, who was detained for radicalism under the Internal Security Act earlier this month.

To guard against divisions along racial and religious lines, as well as foster harmony, Mr Heng highlighted three steps that Singaporeans can take.

First, understanding that Singaporeans, though coming from diverse backgrounds, have a common goal of ensuring a harmonious society.

This includes wanting a home to be a place offering good opportunities to all, and one that is peaceful, said Mr Heng.

Second, people should make the most of Singapore's diversity through frank and frequent communication.

"Use the journey (towards harmony) to understand one another - put across our point of view, and also listen with an open mind and heart," he said.

And finally, harmony is a continuous "work-in-progress". "We don't just reach a final point and say to ourselves, 'We're there already, no need to make any more effort'," Mr Heng said.

The Harmony Train is a collaboration between Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society and National Youth Council. It has been decked out in decals with messages promoting racial and religious harmony, including "Our strength lies in Diversity" and "Stand up for Harmony".

It will run along the North-East Line throughout next month - which is both Harmony Month and Youth Month.

Logos of more than 100 brands and businesses, including Eu Yan Sang and Ben & Jerry's, have been inscribed on the inside of the train cabins, as a pledge of their commitment to racial and religious harmony in Singapore.

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