Shanmugam calls for forging of bonds across racial lines

Mr Shanmugam flagged terrorism as the top security threat facing Singapore.ST VIDEO: DANSON CHEONG

While it may not always be possible to prevent a terror attack, it is possible for people to control how they react the day after, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam as he urged Singaporeans to build bonds across racial lines.

Speaking to reporters yesterday at the Home Team Academy's annual seminar on plans for the year, he said: "If we react in a divided way, if we react by pointing fingers, if we target any particular racial group or community, then we have lost and the terrorists have won."

Calling on Singaporeans to build a more integrated society, he said that people can be good citizens while at the same time being a "good Muslim, good Hindu, good Christian or completely agnostic".

Asked if Singaporeans would rally together after a terror attack as people had done in Paris and London, he said: "My own sense is that by and large, Singaporeans understand that any act (will be that) of isolated extremists, and based on that, I think we will react as a community."

Earlier, in his speech to Home Team officers at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority headquarters in Kallang, Mr Shanmugam said many recent attacks worldwide have been carried out by lone wolves, and the training for law enforcement officers must prepare them for that.

 
 
 
 

His remarks come a day after news broke that Singapore had detained earlier this month the first woman under the Internal Security Act for radicalism.

The family of Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, a contract infant care assistant at a preschool, knew of her radicalism in 2015, but did not inform the authorities.

Mr Shanmugam reiterated the need for people to report individuals showing signs of radicalisation so that the authorities can work with their family, religious experts and counsellors to "get the person on the right path". "Imagine if they actually take up arms, go out there (and) do something. What is going to happen to them? So you are actually saving them," he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2017, with the headline 'Shanmugam calls for forging of bonds across racial lines'. Print Edition | Subscribe