Opening Remarks by Mr Ong Keng Yong, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS, at the International Conference on Cohesive Societies 2019
20 June 2019
Her Excellency, Madam Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore
His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Chairman of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Dr Tony Tan
High Commissioners and Ambassadors
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning. A very warm welcome to the International Conference on Cohesive Societies or ICCS in short.
A special thank you to His Majesty King Abdullah II and his royal entourage. We are deeply honoured by your presence and support.
We appreciate the participation of so many speakers and delegates from Singapore and countries around the world.
The world we know is changing rapidly. Many things have been transformed. While some of these changes are positive, some had posed considerable challenges to our pursuit of peace and cohesion.
Issues affecting inter-religious relations can no longer be dealt with in isolation. Increased connectivity, the rise of social media, fake news and demographic shifts have made conversations on sensitive subjects very difficult, especially in diverse societies.
The theme for this Conference is “Many Communities, One Shared Future”. In order for many communities to share one future, openness and acceptance are of utmost necessity. We need to have more dialogue. We need to communicate more effectively among people of all levels. Above all, we need to strengthen mutual respect and trust.
As a multi-racial and multi-religious society, Singapore is deeply aware of all these and we have worked hard to maintain our cohesion and unity.
We are assembled here to exchange our knowledge and best practices, to learn from each other and to rejuvenate individual and community efforts for the well-being and security of our societies.
As we discuss inter-religious issues in the ICCS, we must not forget our young people. Their voices are important in helping us shape the shared future we envision. Through the Young Leaders’ Programme of this Conference, we created opportunities for the young generation to engage in deeper conversations to forge stronger understanding and share new ideas to foster greater harmony in our diverse societies.
His Majesty King Abdullah II has travelled long distances to join us today. His Majesty is a global leader in promoting interfaith understanding, dialogue and inclusivity. His Majesty has led many important international initiatives aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence among people.
It gives me immense pleasure, on behalf of all of us present this morning, to invite His Majesty King Abdullah II to share with us his vision for cohesive societies.