Singapore's social compact gives citizens opportunities to succeed, helps them coexist well: Masagos

Singapore has managed to achieve a social compact that allows people to live harmoniously, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Republic has taken an approach that offers its citizens opportunities to succeed regardless of race or religion, and this has enabled the country to achieve a social compact allowing people to live harmoniously.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli made this point on Tuesday (June 7), adding that as a small country with scarce land and resources, Singapore must make sure such opportunities are continuously created and sustained.

"Since independence, our social compact is one where the Government creates the conditions for economic growth and jobs, while ensuring access to the most essential needs - education, healthcare and housing," he said.

"Individuals are self-reliant and supported by strong families. For those who fall upon difficult times, the Government enables them to bounce back, together with a caring community.

"This approach of working together has created good outcomes for our people and society. "

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, was speaking at the International Conference on Religious Extremism in Cairo, Egypt. The event was organised by the Salam Centre for Extremism Studies, a research unit affiliated with Egypt's official body that issues its Islamic laws.

Mr Masagos on Tuesday highlighted three factors that make up Singapore's approach to rehabilitating radicalised individuals, which he said aims to be holistic and intensive - that is, customised to meet the individual's specific needs and circumstances.

The first is religious rehabilitation, he said, sharing that Singapore requires detainees to attend monthly counselling sessions where they receive proper religious teachings to counter the radical ideology they have imbibed.

Then comes psychological rehabilitation, where psychologists work closely with detainees to address their tendency for hatred and violence, as well as their vulnerability to radical influences. This occurs throughout their detention, as well as after they have been released on supervision.

The third factor is social rehabilitation, with a goal to ensure the smooth reintegration of detainees back into society. Mr Masagos said that during their detention, these individuals are granted weekly family visits and upon their release, they are assigned an aftercare officer to provide social support.

Mr Masagos said that working together with international partners, as well as building trust and collaborating with the local community, have been key in Singapore's approach to addressing this challenge.

He held up the role religious leaders have in countering such threats, and said that the Government has reached out to Muslim leaders and scholars for assistance.

"This was a pivotal move. This ensured that our rehabilitation and counter-extremism efforts were built on strong foundations of trust. In fact, the Religious Rehabilitation Group (or RRG) has been one of our key success factors in rehabilitating radicalised individuals," he said.

The RRG brings together Islamic scholars and teachers who voluntarily assist in the religious counselling of radicalised individuals, including terror detainees, and inoculate the wider community against extremist views.

The conference, which is held from June 7 to 9, will see officials, researchers and public figures from more than 45 countries participating in discussions centred around the theme Religious Extremism: The Intellectual Premises And The Counter Strategies.

Participants will also attend talks that aim to debunk extremist narratives and enhance international cooperation through the exchange of experiences in combating extremism.

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