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Pritam Singh recalled Low Thia Khiang’s behaviour at his wedding while crafting speech on religious harmony

Mr Pritam also pointed out that a religious leader was seen with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the last election and that this leader was a senior party member.

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Workers’ Party (WP) secretary-general indicated yesterday (7 Oct) that it was his predecessor Low Thia Khiang’s behaviour at his wedding years ago that helped him craft his parliamentary speech on religious harmony.

Mr Pritam revealed on Facebook: “Did you see the way Mr Low bowed and put his hands together before the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Book)? It was so respectful.” So said my wife to me when she watched the video of our marriage ceremony some years ago, which was attended by Mr Low and the WP MPs.

“This episode kept crossing my mind as I prepared my speech on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Bill for today’s sitting in Parliament. Sikhism requires all visitors to our temples to cover their heads in the presence of the Holy Book. And non-Sikhs are under no compulsion to bow before a Holy Book that is not their own.”

Sharing a video showing Mr Low bowing in front of the holy book, Mr Pritam said: “That Mr Low, a Buddhist, chose to do so was a truly heartwarming sight. But he is not alone. Many Singaporeans, regardless of political persuasion, show much respect to the various religions of our friends, in our own ways. Let’s keep it that way.”

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Religious Harmony in Singapore——————————————-“Did you see the way Mr Low bowed and put his hands together before the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Book)? It was so respectful.” So said my wife to me when she watched the video of our marriage ceremony some years ago, which was attended by Mr Low and the WP MPs.This episode kept crossing my mind as I prepared my speech on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Bill for today’s sitting in Parliament. Sikhism requires all visitors to our temples to cover their heads in the presence of the Holy Book. And non-Sikhs are under no compulsion to bow before a Holy Book that is not their own. That Mr Low, a Buddhist, chose to do so was a truly heartwarming sight. But he is not alone. Many Singaporeans, regardless of political persuasion, show much respect to the various religions of our friends, in our own ways. Let’s keep it that way.

Posted by Pritam Singh on Monday, October 7, 2019

Yesterday, Parliament passed changes to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act to allow the authorities to move more swiftly against those who threaten the harmonious relations among people who follow different religions in Singapore.

The updated law, which now covers offences committed in Singapore and abroad, will see higher maximum punishments and immediate restraining orders for those who spread offensive statements on social media.

During the parliamentary debate on the changes to the law on religious harmony, WP parliamentarians touched on separating religion from politics.

Pointing out that a religious leader was seen with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the last election and that this leader was a senior party member, a highly visible leader of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), Mr Pritam said:

“While it is unclear if the individual concerned was the Prime Minister’s election agent, it is nonetheless useful for the House to pause and consider the optics of a respected member of a religious group appearing to canvass support for a politician.
“How would some members of the same religious group with a different political view from that espoused by their religious leader or elder feel if they openly support another political party? Could it create or ferment tension within that religious group?”

While Mr Pritam did not mention the name of the individual who was spotted with the PM, some observers believe that he was referring to IRO council vice-president and Taoist Federation representative, Tan Thiam Lye.

Additionally, Mr Pritam asserted that appointing well-known religious or community figures to positions like election agents “muddies the already difficult distinction between religion and politics.” /TISG

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