IRCC Celebrates 10 Years of Building Public Confidence in Racial and Religious Harmony
Singapore, 13 October 2012 - 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs). In celebration of the IRCCs’ achievements over the past decade, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, today launched an exhibition titled “The IRCC Journey 2002 – 2012” at the National IRCC Seminar held at Singapore Expo Max Atria. The interactive exhibition featured significant milestones and highlights of the IRCCs over the past ten years, including a multi-touch screen display of photos, newspaper articles and videos of the efforts of the IRCCs.
The National IRCC Seminar saw 350 participants, including 80 youth leaders from the various religious organisations and Institutes of Higher Learning. The involvement of the youth leaders reflects the evolving role of the younger community in promoting racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
The event also took a different format from previous years, offering participants learning opportunities on social media trends and crisis communications. Guest speakers, including Kampong Glam IRCC Chairman, Mr Chia Keng Hian, BBM, PBM, PB, PBS, OStJ shared experiences on crisis management and the role of information management, as well as the appropriate approaches to social media use. The discussions noted that while inappropriate use of social media can pose challenges to racial and religious harmony in Singapore, it can also be used as a tool to gain and increase outreach and community activism. Kampong Glam IRCC is one of the eight IRCCs on a pilot project to better engage the community through the IRCC Facebook.
Further group discussions saw participants sharing and exchanging ideas and proposals on youth engagements, as well as using social media to promote racial harmony and social cohesion. The event ended with a dialogue session chaired by Mr Chan Chun Sing, together with panel members of the National Steering Committee for Racial and Religious Harmony.
This is the last year that the annual IRCC event will be organised by MCYS. From 1 November 2012, the IRCCs will come under the purview of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
About the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs):
The Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs) were formed in 2002 against the backdrop of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Re-positioned in 2006 to include religious organisations, the IRCCs serve as the local-level inter-faith platforms under the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) to respond quickly to incidents with racial and religious dimensions. Friendships and networks of trust are built during peace time to ensure that we can withstand challenges and strains on our social cohesion.
The IRCCs were officially renamed as “Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles” on 7 Sep 07. The acronym, IRCC, however, remained the same. The renaming signifies the IRCCs’ active promotion of inter – religious understanding and harmony.
MCYS, as the cluster lead for religious groups, ethnic and community-based organisations and the IRCCs, continues to work on preserving the harmony and trust in our multi-racial society during and after a crisis such as a terrorist attack.
Through the IRCCs, MCYS encourages leaders from religious organisations to join in the efforts to build networks of trust during peace time. MCYS is also actively involving other ethnic and community organisations such as clan associations in the IRCCs. In the aftermath of a crisis, they will be the key links to disseminate information, soothe and minimise communal tension, and maintain confidence in the community.
The IRCCs are also actively building up their capabilities to deal with crisis, through participation in scenario-based exercises, preparation of their own Standing Operating Procedures (SOP) and participation in relevant courses such as mediation and media appreciation.