SINGAPORE - Care should be taken to make sure that religious teachers are properly accredited and do not teach children wrong or deviant teachings, said Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef.
Parents and governments can ensure that children's religious education come from proper sources, and that their religious teachers are accredited by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), she said in Parliament on Tuesday (May 15).
"This is a crucial issue... If the wrong and deviant teachings become widespread, the harmony and social cohesion that we have built over the years will be compromised," she said on the second day of debates on the President's Address.
Associate Professor Fatimah highlighted increasing religiosity in a speech that looked at the challenges facing the Malay/Muslim community. This is not a trend unique to Islam, she said, adding that it has arisen due to the changing times and spread of different beliefs and ideologies.
Stressing that "radicalism and extremism are thorns in our society", she said parents and governments play a "critical role" in countering this
Self-radicalisation, particularly that which takes place online, has become a growing concern here. Last Friday, the Home Affairs Ministry announced that a 27-year-old parking warden - who was self-radicalised by divisive teachings online - had been detained under the Internal Security Act in April.
Earlier this year, Home Affairs and Law minister K. Shanmugam also flagged that self-radicalised individuals today face "more complex psychological and social issues", and that Singapore is still trying to develop the right tools to rehabilitate them.
To deal with this problem, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has launched a network of young asatizah, or religious teachers, trained in digital media and counselling to counter radicalisation in young people. This will be expanded from 11 teachers now to 30 by year end.