Government will protect people regardless of race, religion or sexuality: Shanmugam

Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said Singapore does face "a significant risk" of attacks by self-radicalised people.
Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said Singapore does face "a significant risk" of attacks by self-radicalised people.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The Government will protect its people regardless of race, religion or sexuality, Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said at the Khadijah Mosque on Tuesday (June 14). 

 "It looks like the gay community has been targeted. This is unacceptable. Violence against any group in any form is not acceptable. Here, the government will act decisively if there is threat of violence against anyone or any group. The government's duty is to protect everyone. 

"Their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, that's not relevant," he said, in the aftermath of a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando last Sunday, when a lone attacker called Omar Mateen gunned down some 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Mr Shanmugam was speaking to reporters before an iftar (breaking of fast) organised by the Religious Rehabilitation Group and the Khadijah Mosque Management Board on Tuesday, to commemorate the holy month of Ramadan, which started last Monday (June 6). During this period, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk as a way of nurturing values of patience and self-control.

Mr Shanmugam also said Singapore does face "a significant risk" of attacks by self-radicalised people. He emphasised the importance of the national SG Secure programme, and stressed the need for the people to cooperate in the fight against terror threats: "It's not something the government can do by itself. It's a call for the entire nation to come together, everyone to be prepared." 

He added that the Government will launch an app this year which will allow citizens to easily notify the police in the event of an emergency. 

"We will knock on every door, door to door, to try and train people in emergency response and we will put automated external defibrillators in every other block , or one in every three blocks ,  so people can use them to save lives."

The Government's approach to the security threat is two-pronged: "We will train the population. At the same time, we will substantially upgrade the capabilities of our emergency response teams." 

Mr Ali Mohamed, chairman of the Khadijah Mosque, in his speech during the breaking of fast event on Tuesday, said the sense of harmonious living and trust between the different religious groups in Singapore is critical and urgent, considering the rise of extremist groups such as ISIS. 

To maintain this, public awareness is important, and the Government and the Islamic community have taken steps to address this, said Mr Ali.