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Viet govt officials, church leaders here on study tour

ATEAM of six Vietnamese government officials and church leaders was here recently on a three-day visit to study the role of religious organisations in society and relations between them and the Singapore Government.

The visitors also held discussions with Trinity Theological College (TTC) on “a partnership” to provide theological training for Vietnamese students and teaching faculty.

The visitors – three from the Bureau of Religious Affairs and three from the Evangelical Church in Vietnam (South) — came to see how religious organisations, particularly the churches, cooperate with the Singapore Government in providing social welfare and educational services.

The three government officials, led by Mr Nguyen Van Thong, Head of Protestant Division of the Bureau of Religious Affairs, met Prof Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Law, at his office on April 19, the second day of their visit.

Specifically, the three church leaders discussed with the Principal of TTC, the Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, and his senior faculty members the possibility of an “official tie-up” with the college to impart training to Vietnamese theological students and teaching faculty as well as to build up their teaching resources such as library facilities.

They also visited Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) where they were briefed by the Principal, Mr Ng Eng Chin.

They were later joined by the three government officials when they called on Bishop Dr Robert Solomon at his Methodist Centre office where they had almost an hour of discussions.

With them were the Rev Dr Ngoei and two senior faculty members, Dr Tan Kim Huat, Chen Su Lan Professor of New Testament and Dean of Studies, and Dr Roland Chia, Dean of Postgraduate Studies and lecturer in Historical and Systematic Theology. Also present was the Rev Ajit Hazra, Field Director of the Methodist Missions Society, which has work in Vietnam.

Bishop Dr Solomon told the visitors that The Methodist Church in Singapore works closely with the Singapore Government in two areas – schools and social services. “The Government helps us in these two areas. It’s a mutual partnership,” he said.

He said that it was his hope that the Vietnamese Government and the churches in Vietnam would also work well together, and added: “I’m sure we, too, can learn from your experience in later years.”

The visitors also met Mr Lim K Tham, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Singapore, and visited St Andrew’s Cathedral and St Andrew’s Community Hospital.