betty July 30, 2022

SINGAPORE – A global interfaith conference organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) will be held here in September, with President Halimah Yacob and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong scheduled to speak.

This is the second time the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS) is being organised by RSIS, after the first in 2019.

It will bring together leaders from policy, community, academic and religious spheres from around the world to discuss key challenges pulling at the social fabric in their societies, and approaches to managing them.

This year’s conference, to be held at the Raffles City Convention Centre from Sept 6 to 8, will examine the role of identities in shaping how individuals connect with one another and their communities.

Delegates will discuss issues including the role of faith in bridging divides, how diversity can be harnessed for the common good, and the ways in which technology can help bridge differences and foster mutual trust, said the conference organisers in a statement on Friday (July 29).

President Halimah will deliver the opening address while Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, will helm a dialogue session on the final day.

There will be more than 30 local and international speakers, including from countries such as Morocco, Thailand, Japan, India and Australia.

The conference will also include a Young Leaders Programme that will allow young regional and international leaders the platform to network and collaborate on social cohesion and community-building.

In comments included in the statement, President Halimah said the conference is a timely opportunity to take stock and reflect on how communities can be brought closer and move forward together.

“The pandemic has also brought polarisation and social isolation to the fore. It has thus reminded us again of the need to come together as a global community and have important conversations on how we can promote social harmony through our shared beliefs, values and aspirations,” she said.

RSIS executive deputy chairman Ong Keng Yong, who is also Ambassador-at-Large at the Foreign Ministry, noted that the current digital era and new technologies have changed the way people live, work and play.

He said: “ICCS 2022 will be a useful platform to discuss how technologies can be a positive force in facilitating online worship, especially during a global crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and in managing interfaith exchanges and relationships.”