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Buddhism in Singapore

Buddhism in Singapore is the largest religion in Singapore, practiced by approximately 33% of the population. In 2015, out of 3,276,190 Singaporeans polled, 1,087,995 (33.21%) of them identified themselves as Buddhists.[1]

Buddhism was introduced in Singapore primarily by migrants from across the world over past centuries. The first recorded histories of Buddhism in Singapore can be observed in the early days' monasteries and temples such as Thian Hock Keng and Jin Long Si Temple that were built by settlers that came from various parts of the world, in particularly Asia.

There are a variety of Buddhist organizations in Singapore, with the more predominant authorities being established ones such as the Singapore Buddhist Federation.


Buddhism first appeared around the Singapore Straits during the 2nd century.[citation needed] Given the historic status of Singapore as a British trade port and colonial state, as well as a brief period of Japanese colonial rule during World War II, over the centuries a variety of Buddhist lineages from across the globe has appeared gradually on the island. They include Japanese and Western interpretations of the tripitaka, although a substantial local presence have their origins dating back into historic South East and East Asian kingdoms.

Modern day

Singapore Buddhist Lodge.jpg

With the advent of religious freedom in modern-day Singapore, most Singaporeans that adhere to the Buddhist doctrine are a participant of at least one Buddhist organisation, while also being actively involved in other beliefs that are presented across the diverse cosmopolitan culture.[citation needed] There is also an active female involvement in Singaporean Buddhism, which includes lay female followers as well as monastic nuns. Buddhists generally classify themselves as either Theravada or Mahayana.

Youth Groups

Recently, Buddhism in Singapore has been seeing a revival, with Buddhist societies across the country getting increasingly popular among youths in Singapore. This is primarily due to the fact that these societies have evolved over the years to suit the taste of youths, with the use of Buddhist music to attract them.[citation needed] Such Buddhist societies tend to be found in Polytechnics and Universities such as Singapore Polytechnic Buddhist Society[2] and NUS Buddhist Society[3].

Buddhist Events

Public Buddhist talks are getting increasingly popular in Singapore, with an increasing number of Buddhist monks coming to Singapore to give Buddhist talks, which helps to strengthen the faith of Buddhists here in Singapore.[citation needed]

More recently, there have been Buddhist Film Festivals in Singapore in the past few years. [4]


Singapore is a society of diverse religious traditions. The Buddhist community in Singapore has contributed much to the Singapore society. One example is the Buddhist Free Clinic. The Buddhist Free Clinic has multiple outlets across Singapore, providing free healthcare services to the public, regardless of the patients' ethnicity or beliefs. This demonstrates how Buddhism is part of the religious fabric in Singapore and how multiple faiths in Singapore get along with one another.[citation needed]


Venerable Ming Yi of Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery as of 2015[5] was imprisoned in a high-profile corruption scandal a few years ago. Ming Yi had been sentenced to 10 months in jail in November 2009 after being convicted on four charges of fraud, falsifying documents, misappropriating funds and giving false information to the Commissioner of Charities in 2008.[6][7] Resulting from criminal charges and investigation, the Commissioner of Charities then suspended him from decision-making positions in Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery; Foo Hai Ch'an Buddhist Cultural and Welfare Association; Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic; the Singapore Regional Centre of the World Fellowship of Buddhists; and the Katho Temple.[8]

Venerable Guo Jun, former abbot of the Mahabodhi Monastery in Bukit Timah, has drawn criticism for owning a property in Sydney worth more than A$500,000 (S$514,000) and for not wearing his monk's robe on at least one occasion in public and staying in Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort. Guo Jun also faces a lawsuit from a trustee Lee Boon Teow of the monastery, who has filed a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau report against him. [9]

See also

Buddhist Mission Schools
Buddhist Centres


  1. ^ "General Household Survey 2015 - Content Page". Archived from the original on 2018-02-12. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  2. ^ "SPBS - Singapore Polytechnic Buddhist Society". Archived from the original on 2019-02-02. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  3. ^ "NUS Buddhist Society". Archived from the original on 2018-12-25. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  4. ^ "THUS HAVE I SEEN – Buddhist Film Festival".
  5. ^ Aw, Cheng Wei (11 May 2015). "Buddhist monk glad kidney recipient has second shot". Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Ming Yi's monk status questioned over $1,000-a-table dinner". AsiaOne. 2 Dec 2010. Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  7. ^ Chong, Elena. "Ren Ci head Venerable Ming Yi charged with 10 counts". Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Ming Yi suspended from office in 5 other bodies". Archived from the original on 2017-02-16. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  9. ^ Zaccheus, Melody. "Bid to suspend monastery's abbot fails". ST. Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 9 March 2016.


  • Chia, Jack Meng Tat (2009). "Buddhism in Singapore: A State of the Field Review." Asian Culture 33, 81-93.
  • Kuah, Khun Eng. State, Society and Religious Engineering: Towards a Reformist Buddhism in Singapore. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003.
  • Ong, Y.D. Buddhism in Singapore: A Short Narrative History. Singapore: Skylark Publications, 2005.
  • Shi Chuanfa 释传发. Xinjiapo Fojiao Fazhan Shi 新加坡佛教发展史 [A History of the Development of Buddhism in Singapore]. Singapore: Xinjiapo fojiao jushilin, 1997.
  • Wee, Vivienne. “Buddhism in Singapore.” In Understanding Singapore Society, eds. Ong Jin Hui, Tong Chee Kiong and Tan Ern Ser, pp. 130–162. Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1997.

External links