S'pore leaders condemn attacks

A woman paying her respects to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris at the French Embassy in Singapore yesterday.
A woman paying her respects to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris at the French Embassy in Singapore yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Singapore's leaders have condemned the brutal attacks in Paris, and stressed the need to stay vigilant here, warning that terrorism could strike anywhere, even here.

In a letter to his French counterpart Francois Hollande, President Tony Tan Keng Yam extended his deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones, adding that Singapore stands "in solidarity with the French people in this difficult time".

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the coordinated strikes "an attack on our shared humanity".

"It is not the first time innocent civilians have been massacred like this in this troubled world. But each time it happens, we again feel appalled and outraged beyond words," he posted on Facebook.

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean wrote on Facebook that despite "best efforts by security agencies", terrorists could still strike.

"It is important that our social and psychological defence remains strong, and that we are all ready to withstand and recover from any attack which may occur, and remain united and strong."

He wished the French people "courage and steadfastness as they deal with the situation".

Writing that "our hearts go out to the victims", Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam called the violence the worst seen in France since World War II.

"But terrorism will be a threat for many years to come," he wrote on Facebook. "We have to fight it in every way. Directly in the places where it is grown. And everywhere else: By refusing to be intimidated, by deepening bonds amongst people of different faiths and cultures, and by developing a spirit of open-mindedness in all our societies." He stressed that everyone has a part to play in building such bonds - from religious, political to community leaders and "all of us as neighbours, schoolmates and colleagues".

It was a point reiterated by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam. "Such attacks aim to strike fear in the community," he said. "We must therefore continue to build up our social resilience. This will ensure that if an incident were to occur here, we will stand together, recover quickly and emerge stronger and more united."

In his condolence letter to French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore supports France's efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Writing on Facebook, he said: "This is a terrible assault on a beautiful city with warm cheerful hospitable people...

"We must not let the terrorists divide us or destroy our spirit. I know the French spirit will prevail."

Speaking at the flame lighting ceremony for the Asean Para Games, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said organisers will study how security measures can be stepped up at the sporting event next month.

The Workers' Party, in a statement, also strongly condemned the attacks, with chairman Sylvia Lim saying "our thoughts and prayers are with the people of France".

•Additional reporting by Jonathan Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 15, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore leaders condemn attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe