Singapore Prime Minister Lee receives World Statesman Award

Singapore's PM Lee speaks during luncheon hosted by leaders of federations of economic organizations.. Reuters

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received the World Statesman Award on Monday, Sept. 24, for his services to foster a society based on multiculturalism, where ethnic communities maintain their unique way of life while living in harmony.

 The award was conferred by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and the annual awards dinner was held in New York. Accepting the award, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the challenges remain and these could impact the country's efforts to foster racial and religious harmony.

The award by the New York-based interfaith Appeal of Conscience Foundation recognises individuals who support peace, prosperity and liberty, and promote tolerance, human dignity and human rights, both in their own countries and internationally through cooperation with other leaders.

President of the foundation Rabbi Arthur Schneier said the award was for fostering a society that embraces multiculturalism, in which ethnic communities maintain their unique way of life while living harmoniously.

Mr Lee was praised for supporting a knowledge-based economy, an education system that provides Singaporeans with the necessary skills to survive in a globally competitive environment, as well as for implementing a world-class health infrastructure.

Singapore's Presidential Council for Minority Rights, which scrutinises all legislation to ensure none of it discriminates against any racial or religious community, and the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, which empowers the Government to act against religious leaders or groups who cause feelings of enmity, hatred or hostility between religious groups, or use religion to promote a political cause, PM Lee said.

Singapore has also designed electoral rules to encourage multi-racial politics, instead of the politics of race and religion. "In Parliamentary elections, political parties are required to present multi-racial slates to contest multi-member seats. This discourages political parties from championing particular racial or religious groups, and dividing our society along primordial fault lines," he said in his acceptance speech.

"It also guarantees that Parliament will always have a minimum number of legislators from the minority communities, so that minorities never feel shut out."

Mr Lee also cited the Ethnic Integration Policy, which ensures that every township, precinct and residential block is ethnically mixed so that there are no racial enclaves.


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