Social media accounts of President Halimah, PM Lee spammed by supporters of banned Indonesian preacher

Comments bearing the hashtag #SaveUAS on an Instagram post by PM Lee Hsien Loong. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LEE HSIEN LOONG/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - The social media accounts of President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as well as several political office-holders and government agencies, have been spammed with comments from supporters of Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara, who was denied entry into Singapore on Monday (May 16) due to a history of extremist teachings.

A check by The Straits Times found comments bearing the hashtags #SaveUAS and #SaveUstadzAbdulSomad on Instagram posts by President Halimah and PM Lee.

Other accounts targeted include PM Lee's Twitter page, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean's and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan's Instagram accounts, the Singapore Government's and Ministry of Law's Twitter pages, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs', Singapore Tourism Board's and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's Instagram pages.

In response to media queries, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) confirmed on Wednesday (May 18) that the social media accounts of a number of political office-holders and government agencies were spammed.

MCI's spokesman noted that there were also calls for cyber attacks against Singapore Government social media accounts on public Indonesian chat groups.

The ministry said two events management companies have also had their websites defaced. The websites have been recovered and the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCert) will contact the companies to extend help, it added.

"Organisations are advised to take active steps to strengthen their cyber security posture, heighten vigilance, and bolster their online defences to protect their organisation against possible cyber-attacks, such as web defacement and distributed denial of service (DDoS)," MCI said.

The ministry urged Singapore organisations that have been affected by a cyber attack or have evidence that their networks have been compromised to report to SingCert.

A report can be made at this website.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said Somad and his companions were denied entry into Singapore because the Indonesian preacher has a history of extremist teachings that are not acceptable in Singapore.

The group of seven had arrived at Singapore's Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on Monday from Batam. After Somad was interviewed, the group were barred from entering the Republic and placed on a ferry back to Batam on the same day.

MHA's spokesman said Somad has been known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society. She added that Somad, in the past, had preached that suicide bombings are legitimate in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and are considered "martyrdom" operations.

He has also made comments denigrating members of other faiths, such as Christians, by describing the Christian crucifix as the dwelling place of an "infidel jinn (spirit/demon)", and has also publicly referred to non-Muslims as kafirs or infidels.

Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara was denied entry into Singapore on May 16 due to a history of extremist teachings. PHOTO: USTADZABDULSOMAD_OFFICIAL/INSTAGRAM

A visitor's entry into Singapore is neither automatic nor a right, the MHA spokesman said.

"Each case is assessed on its own merits. While Somad had attempted to enter Singapore ostensibly for a social visit, the Singapore Government takes a serious view of any persons who advocate violence and/or espouse extremist and segregationist teachings," she said.

Although he is one of Indonesia's most widely followed preachers on the Internet, Somad has been criticised by Indonesians, including mainstream Muslim leaders, for comments he has made denigrating other faiths.

After Singapore refused him entry, Indonesian media reports said he had been denied entry to Hong Kong, Timor Leste and several European countries in the past.

The director of prevention at Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency, Brigadier-General Ahmad Nurwakhid, was also reported as saying that Singapore’s decision to deny entry to Somad ought to serve as a lesson for Indonesia in preventing radical views, ideology and doctrines that could lead to terrorism and violence.

He noted that his agency appreciated Singapore’s stance, given that exclusive and intolerant preaching, views and attitudes are the foundation of radicalism and terrorism.

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