'Curb terrorism via good governance'

Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani (seated, far left) with President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana yesterday, where both sides reaffirmed the friendly ties between their countries.
Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani (seated, far left) with President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana yesterday, where both sides reaffirmed the friendly ties between their countries.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Governments should focus on ensuring good governance and developing the potential of their people to curb extremism, Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani said yesterday as he outlined his country's approach to tackling terrorism.

"As we create more opportunities for our people, we will undermine the rationale for extremism," he added.

Speaking at the third S R Nathan Annual Distinguished Lecture during his official visit to Singapore, he pointed to how Qatar and Singapore are both committed to the twin endeavours.

It forms "the bedrock of our friendship and partnership", he said at the event organised by the National University of Singapore's Middle East Institute.

Sheikh Mohammed arrived in Singapore on Tuesday for a two-day visit, his first since his appointment as Qatar Foreign Minister in January.

On Qatar's efforts in developing its people, he said his country has been emphasising education and improving access to university for its citizens.

It has achieved a "dramatic increase" in university admission for women, and they now outnumber men in these institutions of higher learning, which "bodes well for gender equality in the future", he said.

These developments tie in with Qatar's move towards a knowledge-based economy.

"We know that a carbon-based economy will not last forever," said Sheikh Mohammed referring to Qatar's crude oil industry.

Turning to developments in the Middle East, he said the Arab Spring has turned the region "upside down".

Although the initial revolutions delivered freedom and liberty to many Arab people, subsequent counter-revolts, the war in Syria, and the rise of the terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have reversed those gains, he said.

"Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost along with the hopes and dreams of entire generations," he added, calling on the international community to help find a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict and redouble efforts to defeat ISIS.

Yesterday, Sheikh Mohammed also called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

During his meeting with Dr Tan, both sides reaffirmed the warm and friendly ties between Singapore and Qatar, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said yesterday.

Dr Tan also reiterated his invitation for Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to visit Singapore.

At a separate meeting, Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, and Sheikh Mohammed discussed the economic challenges that countries are facing in the current global environment.

Mr Tharman welcomed the Qatar Investment Authority's interest in setting up its Asian headquarters in Singapore, said the MFA.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Mohammed was hosted to dinner by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline ''Curb terrorism via good governance''. Print Edition | Subscribe