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Religion In Singapore Essay

1470 words - 6 pages

Religion in Singapore
Singapore’s government has been applauded for its approach to attracting business and fostering social harmony, while simultaneously censured for being too restrictive and even dictatorial in its approach to public policy. Media coverage on the topic of religion in Singapore has been varied in both its tone and the sources from which it is derived; news media stationed outside of Singapore’s boundaries have depicted a largely positive view of interfaith relationships, while domestic media outlets have stressed the unrest caused by religious divisions amongst Singaporeans.
Historically, Singapore was known as a port-city with an “entrepôt” style economy, primarily ...view middle of the document...

Bernama and published on Malaysia’s Star Online news site, the author describes statements made by Malaysian Ministry official Joseph Kurup during an official visit to Singapore. Although Kurup states that Malaysia is successful at fostering a culture of acceptance, the article suggests that Singapore is the pinnacle of religious harmony; implying that even a relatively pluralistic society such as Malaysia could stand to benefit from mimicking Singaporean policies. Bernama highlights Kurup’s fascination with Singapore’s achievement in the creation of multi-faith places of worship by quoting Kurup as having said “‘The centre is a place for them for interfaith dialogue to make people understand, appreciate, and respect about the religion so that they do not hurt each other.”’ Additionally, Bernama states that “Kurup said his visit together with religious leaders were to familiarize them with what Singapore is doing in promoting national unity and religious harmony.” The article is completely free of any mention of cultural conflict or governmental repression of religious rights, and Bernama’s selected quotation of Kurupt goes so far as to suggest that the Singaporean model is integral in preventing religious violence and societal unrest.
In his article “If not handled carefully, these fault lines can pull Singapore apart,” Straits Times author Wong Kim Hoh illustrates the delicate truce between members of different religious groups by highlighting an incident of conflict between Buddhists and Muslims at a government housing block. Hoh intends to create within the reader, presumably a Singaporean citizen, a sense of urgency regarding the religious divides within the country by quoting PM Lee Hsien as having said “'We have discussed potential fault lines in our society between rich and poor, between Singaporeans and new arrivals. But the most visceral and dangerous fault line,' he said, 'is race and religion.'” Hoh continues to allude to the conflict at the housing block, suggesting to the reader that such incidents are bound to happen with more and more frequency unless the religious tension is more sternly address by the government. From the tone of the article, the reader infers that Singapore is on the brink of religious conflict, the onus of responsibility for religious pluralism rests with Singapore’s political leaders, and the most effective way of handling the issue is through further restriction of religious displays; in essence, a forceful reiteration of Singapore’s secular policy towards religion.
In her article “Singapore 'not immune to religious tensions', says Shanmugam,” Straits Times author Rachel Chang first describes the racial and religious tensions plaguing neighboring countries Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines. She structures the article in such a way as to depict Singapore as a stable nation with a strong government and few instances of religious strife. However, she alludes to the potential for social conflict...

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