ESM Goh Chok Tong: Good that Muslim leaders have condemned Paris terror attacks

SINGAPORE - The recent terror attacks in Paris can cause misunderstandings to develop between Muslims and non-Muslims, and it is good that Muslim leaders around the world have come out to condemn the terrorists.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said this on Saturday, adding that the attacks that claimed the lives 17 people were "totally reprehensible and barbaric".

World leaders have condemned the perpertrators, he said, but more importantly, so have Muslim leaders in many countries, who have come forward to state that "this is not what Islam is all about".

"Otherwise, there will be a misunderstanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, and this is exactly what the terrorists want to create, misunderstanding, so there's a clash between Islam and the others," said Mr Goh in comments to the media at the sidelines of a community event in Mountbatten.

He added that he was glad Singapore's Muslim leaders, such as Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, have also "come out to explain and to condemn the barbaric acts".

In a series of attacks in Paris that started on Wednesday, two gunmen stormed the office of satirical cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and killed 12 people, while another shot dead a police officer on Thursday and took hostages on Friday, four of who were killed. French police killed the three gunmen in two separate raids on Friday.

Mr Goh said that the episode was "not totally unexpected".

"Because there are terrorists all over the world targeting countries like France, Australia, and if they can, the US, UK, maybe even Singapore," he said.

Saturday's event is Mr Goh's second public event since undergoing surgery for prostate cancer in November 2014.

When asked about his health, Mr Goh said that he had recovered very well and was "more or less ready" to resume his full activities. He has already resumed attending his meet-the-people sessions.

He added that he would be visiting his urologist early next week "just to be sure that everything is okay".

"For now, this kind of exercise is okay.. But can I go on to the next step? Which is to go to the gym, go back to tennis and golf. I await the review next week," he said.

He added that he was in Siem Reap in Cambodia on holiday recently.

"I went to Angkor Wat to test myself, climb the steps, look at the temples, I was okay. I'm quite happy with the recovery," he said.

"I thank Singaporeans for their concern and well wishes," he added.

Also present yesterday at the event to promote community ties were Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, Marine Parade GRC MPs Seah Kian Peng and Ms Tin Pei Ling.