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New Harmony Circle Coordinating Council to Drive Racial and Religious Harmony in Local Communities Across Singapore

Harmony Circles will focus on diversifying composition, refreshing programmes, enhancing outreach and strengthening capabilities

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has formed a new Harmony Circle Coordinating Council to coordinate efforts across the 93 Racial and Religious Harmony Circles in Singapore

2          The first Harmony Circle Coordinating Council was formally appointed at the inaugural Racial and Religious Harmony Circle National Appointment Ceremony that was graced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong on 27 May 2023. 

3          The Council is chaired by Pastor Andrew Khoo, who is also Chairperson of the Chong Pang Racial and Religious Harmony Circle. The Council comprises 18 members, who are leaders of Harmony Circles across Singapore. The Council has been appointed to promote closer coordination across the 93 Harmony Circles in Singapore. 

4          At the same appointment ceremony: 

a. 961 Chairpersons were appointed to lead their Harmony Circles over a 3-year term (Apr 2023 to May 2026) to build bonds of trust and develop outreach programmes to promote racial and religious harmony in their constituencies. 

  b. 15 Chairpersons, who have stepped down from their Chairmanship or relinquished their roles in the Harmony Circles, were also recognised for their contributions in strengthening social cohesion across ethnic and religious communities.

Refresh of Racial and Religious Harmony Circles 

5          The Racial and Religious Harmony Circles, formerly known as Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC), was renamed in July 2022 with plans to refresh their programmes and initiatives, in order to remain relevant and effective in promoting racial and religious harmony in our local communities. 

6          The refreshed Harmony Circles will focus on the following key areas:

a. Diversify composition: Over 1,700 volunteers have been appointed to the 93 Harmony Circles. These volunteers come from different ethnic and religious communities and range from 18 to 91 years old. Over the past 2 years, Harmony Circles have seen an increase in membership by 13%, with more participation from youth and women. There has also been a 6% increase in representation from various religious and community organisations.

b. Refresh programmes: Harmony Circles will organise a range of activities to encourage more interaction, and grow mutual trust and appreciation among ethnic and religious communities. These activities will be supported by community partners and aim to attract participation across age groups, genders and backgrounds. These include visits to places of worship and cultural sites, cultural and sporting activities, tree planting, and dialogues with the SAF Veterans League who share lessons on the  importance of racial and religious harmony. 

c. Enhance outreach: From this year onwards, Harmony Circles and other community partners will be organising activities throughout July to celebrate and promote racial  and religious harmony. MCCY will share more details when ready. 

d. Strengthen capabilities: Harmony Circle members will undergo structured training programmes to be equipped with relevant knowledge and skills such as facilitation, mediation, interfaith understanding, and crisis preparedness. These training programmes build our Harmony Circles’ capabilities to grow trust and understanding, and to protect the community and support one another, both in peacetime and in crisis.  

New Harmony Circle identity

7          MCCY unveiled a new Harmony Circle logo at the appointment ceremony. This logo was developed in consultation with Harmony Circle members, and visually represents the social harmony that the Harmony Circles aim to foster in Singapore.

                                                                                                      ANNEX A


Initially known as Inter-Racial Confidence Circles (IRCC), the IRCCs were formed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to serve as ground up, local level platforms for interactions among different communities to build trust and friendship. 

The IRCCs were officially renamed “Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles” in September 2007. The renaming signified the IRCCs’ active promotion of inter–religious understanding and harmony.

In July 2022, IRCCs was renamed Racial and Religious Harmony Circles (or Harmony Circles in short). This new name reflects and reaffirms their mission to promote racial and religious harmony in Singapore by building trust, understanding and confidence among the various communities.

As key interfaith platforms, Harmony Circles have been a critical bridge between different community groups to foster ties during peacetime and support one another in times of racial and religious tensions and crises. 

Currently, there are 93 Harmony Circles across all constituencies, with more than 1,700 members from religious organisations, civic groups and grassroots organisations.

[1] These 96 Chairpersons include Co-Chairpersons for 3 of the Harmony Circles. 

Last updated on 30 May 2023