Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Rafik Mansour
Launch of the Roses of Peace Ambassador Program
February 21, 2021
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Her Excellency Halimah Yacob, Mr. Mohamed Irshad, representatives of the Government of Singapore, and distinguished members of Singapore’s faith communities, it is an honor to join you at this important event, as we welcome the newly appointed participants in this year’s Roses of Peace Ambassador Program. On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, I commend each of you for your commitment to promoting mutual understanding and cooperation through interfaith dialogue.
The U.S. Embassy is proud to support Roses of Peace through its public diplomacy grants program, which helps Singaporean and American organizations pursue community projects, strengthen civil society, and advance the shared goals of our two nations. We celebrate Irshad as a part of our network of U.S. government exchange program alumni, which includes more than one million individuals worldwide – successful business leaders, scientists, educators, journalists, faith leaders, artists, community organizers, and even heads of state like President Halimah, who herself attended the International Visitor Leadership Program in the United States.
Shortly after the inception of Roses of Peace in 2012, the U.S. Embassy selected Irshad for the IVLP in recognition of his strong potential for future leadership. I’d like to say that our prediction was spot on. Although Irshad was still an undergraduate at Singapore Management University at the time, it was obvious that he – and Roses of Peace – were destined to make important contributions.
During his exchange program in the United States, Irshad had the opportunity to connect with American and international counterparts to share best practices, identify solutions to common challenges, and strengthen the people-to-people connections between our countries. Both Irshad and the organization have gone on to be a bridge not only between Singaporeans of different faiths, but also between Singapore and the United States. Both are richly diverse countries with ambitious visions for diverse, inclusive societies, and we count on leaders like Irshad to hold their communities to the highest standards to ensure that all of our neighbors, colleagues, friends, and fellow citizens live in a society that empowers them to thrive.
In his remarks earlier this month at the State Department, President Biden noted that American diplomacy must be rooted in our country’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity. Our strong relationships with steadfast partners like Singapore help us to do just that, and together we grow from strength to strength.
On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, we wish Roses of Peace and the new ambassadors and mentors great courage in facing challenging situations, great patience in facilitating difficult but important conversations, and great success in building bridges that will unify your communities, making neighbors of us all, and strengthening the people-to-people ties that will support future generations of young leaders. Thank you, Madam President, Irshad, and all of you. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.