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Harmony Fest! 2024

Opening Address by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, at Harmony Fest 2024! on 6 July 2024

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

  1. I wish all of you a very warm welcome this afternoon to the Sports Hub. This is a place for our community, to be enjoyed by our community, and I welcome everyone in our community to take part in today’s Harmony Fest!
  2. This two-day festival is organised by the Racial and Religious Harmony Circles, in collaboration with the Singapore Sports Hub. This collaboration allows us to bring vibrant programming to our community right here at the Sports Hub, where we all can gather to celebrate Singapore’s racial and religious harmony.
  3. As some of you know, since last year, we have extended the celebrations of our racial harmony from one day to the whole month of July. So throughout this Racial and Religious Harmony month, Singaporeans from all across our island will take part in various activities and events that celebrate, demonstrate, promote and allow us to treasure our very precious racial and religious harmony through the values of trust, of respect, and cooperation.

Importance of maintaining racial and religious harmony

  1. But we do it in a fun way as well. We don’t just speak about it; we don’t just celebrate it with speeches. But we celebrate it in words and in deeds, which are most important. And we do it through fun, games, laughter and celebration across our different racial and religious lines.
  2. We commemorate Racial Harmony Day, and now Racial and Religious Harmony Month, as a reminder of the communal riots that took place in the 1960s. Those of us old enough to remember, will remember that this was a deeply troubled period for our country’s history. We were driven apart by identity, driven apart by race and religion and if you remember those days, you’d remember how fragile this harmony can be.
  3. And that is why racial equality is enshrined as one of Singapore’s founding principles. It is non-negotiable. Our racial and religious harmony is a precious asset we have painstakingly worked together, all of us, in our community working side by side to nurture and grow. And we must not take this for granted.
  4. Racial harmony is not a one-day or even a one-month affair. It requires all of us, day to day, where we work, where we live, and we play to sustain the efforts by everyone to foster those relationships, build and appreciate our commonalities and differences, and share common experiences every day.
  5. In these uncertain times, Singapore all the more has to be the bright, shining red dot, to be different from the others, to stay cohesive and be united and resilient against external challenges.

Government continues to partner the community to build bonds, mutual trust and understanding

  1. The Government, on our part, is committed to continuing to foster that harmony, to partner our community to strengthen racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
  2. We continue to foster shared experiences, as well, that bring us together in a multicultural setting, as I said through food, through sports, and through our different ways in which we interact with one another in our society.
  3. At the grassroots level, our Racial and Religious Harmony Circles, many of you are here today – I thank you all for coming out here to support and celebrate the occasion. Our members are present here, to form networks that builds friendships across ethnic and religious lines, organise activities to deepen one another’s understanding of each other’s faiths, our cultures, and our values. After all, it is only with understanding that we can build a deeper sense of appreciation, and over time we can begin to see across the lines better and learn to see perspectives from different vantage points, and this is how we build shared values.
  4. So I encourage everyone to consider joining in the activities organised by the Harmony Circles in each of your neighbourhoods. As I said, it is not just about speeches and about celebrations, but it’s really about celebrating the day to day things. For example, in food, we can share such wonderful stories of diversity just through food. And so I encourage you to take part in those activities.

Everyone can play a part to build a cohesive Singapore

  1. Finally, I want to leave with the message that racial harmony is not about one side being accommodating, or even two sides. It’s for all of us, it’s for the Government, it’s for civil society, it’s for each of us in our own micro community. Because if we can be racially cohesive, socially conscious of one another in our small communities around Singapore, collectively we will raise up racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
  2. So I want to thank all of you for being here, and I want to thank in particular the students from the School of Science and Technology. They are here, displaying their projects to help to promote social cohesion. I thank the students for being invested in this and taking time, spending months working on their projects.
  3. You can also play games today designed by OTTODOT that carry a strong racial harmony theme. As I said, it’s not just about serious speeches, it’s also about fun. And this is one game, which is an example of how we can tap on technology to build mutual understanding across different races.
  4. I am also very happy and pleased that persons with disabilities from Running Hour and the Singapore Disability Sports Council are joining us at the Harmony Fest. They have also set up booths for you to see what they do, try out what they do, and experience it. Try out the very exciting para-sports.


  1. As I conclude, I thank the many partners for making today possible. This space at the Sports Hub, about two years since the Government took it back, is our space and your space. This is for all of us to enjoy our common spaces, and so I thank you all for being here. It is really only if we come together and celebrate like this, that when we talk about racial harmony, and social inclusion, that we can make it so much more than just a slogan. We can make it so much more than just words. We bring it all into life, through the actions that we portray and through the co-operation and collaborations that we share with one another.
  2. So enjoy today, enjoy the month. It’s a meaningful time. Enjoy the activities, food, fun, dance, performances, and learning from all the various exhibitions. Take this opportunity to learn something new about a different race, about a different culture, and collectively we will expand our common spaces. Thank you very much and have a wonderful Racial and Religious Harmony month.
  3. Thank you.
Last updated on 08 July 2024