Doorstop interview by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Iftar at Tanglin Division

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 20 June 2017


Q: PM, can I get your reactions to the recent ISA arrests?

PM Lee Hsien Loong: It is not a surprise but nevertheless when it happens, I expect some anxiety and concern from Singaporeans.  The broader backdrop is that this a serious problem in many countries and the pace is speeding up. We don’t have big incidents, but frequent incidents. In UK every now and then, you have now slashings, somebody driving a car gone amok, there was another incident in Paris on Champs Elysees just yesterday. There have been incidents in Australia, and in Southeast Asia, in Indonesia, Malaysia and now in Marawi, there is quite a fight going on. Few hundred militants holed up, and it has gone on for several weeks now, against several thousand Filipino armed forces troops.

It is unrealistic for us to think that we can be immune from all this, and exempt from all this and somehow it doesn’t concern us. We have been seeing from the last couple of years, a steady trickle of cases of people who are self-radicalised, a man as well as a woman, one or two have gone to the Middle East and several more who were trying to go and were frustrated. Either turned back or we stopped them and we arrested them in time. So it is not surprising that we continue to have this trickle.

It still happens that these most recent cases strike close to home because you have got one who is an infant care assistant and the two today, who are Aetos officers, one of them armed, both of them qualified to carry arms. It will cause some anxiety both amongst the Muslim community because they worry that they are coming under the spotlight and also amongst the non-Muslim community because they will wonder what about my kids in the infant care. Am I safe because the security police in Singapore are providing security and policing, unlike in some other countries where the police do not have such high standing.

It is necessary for us to remind ourselves that in fact, Aetos, Certis Cisco, Home Team, and SPF, they have been doing an outstanding job in keeping Singapore safe, detecting the threats, showing presence, responding to incidents and making sure that Singapore is one of the safest places in the world, without being one of the heaviest policed places in the world. You don’t see guns at every street corner and yet you feel safe. That is one of the reasons that why I decided to come and have iftar here today, to show my support for the Home Team, my confidence in the Home Team and encourage the officers that while these things happen, but we continue to have confidence in you, and to work with you.

With the broader community, it is necessary to have the message go out too, and particularly with the Malay Muslim community, it would be good if we can have a discussion, a briefing with the community leaders soon.  I am planning for one sometime next time next month, after my overseas trip, to update them on what is happening on the terrorism front globally and in Singapore, and to touch base with them, to make sure that we are still completely on the same page and we know what is happening, and we know what the worries are, the concerns and what we need to do together.  

After talking to them, particularly after the Aetos case and infant care, it is necessary that people have the reassurance, have the confidence, and know that we are in this together, and we are dealing with this together as we have done. After that I will have another session with community leaders from all the different races, because it is not just the Malay Muslim community but also how the other communities react to this and respond to the Muslims in Singapore. You see the latest incident in Finsbury Park in London, it is a Caucasian, a white person attacking a Muslim crowd outside the mosque at night. It is Islamophobia. is necessary that people have the reassurance, have the confidence, and know that we are in this together.

PM Lee

Maybe you can say while you can understand the psychology of it, Islamophobia is bad, is unacceptable as extremist radical terrorism.  We have to make sure that none of that happens either because of neglect or because somebody is circulating materials which stoke fear and apprehension, and worsen the situation.  So that is what we are going to do.  We work on the basis that it is when rather than whether, but we make sure that we are as well prepared as we possibly can be for when it happens in Singapore.


Q:  Apakah komen anda tentang kes terbaru ISA dan juga reaksi masyarakat Melayu/Islam yang bimbang dengan apa yang berlaku kini?

PM Lee Hsien Loong: Semakin hari, serangan pengganasan semakin sering berlaku di negara-negara dunia – di Amerika Syarikat, di UK, di Australia dan juga negara-negara jiran kita seperti Indonesia, Malaysia dan Thailand. Jadi di Singapura, kita juga terdedah dan tidak terlepas daripada pengaruh radikalisma dan ekstremisma. Saya tahu tiga kes terbaru yang dikesan ISD, mengejutkan masyarakat Islam Singapura. Izzah bekerja di sektor penjagaan bayi dan dua kes terbaru, Khairul dan Rizal, mereka pula pegawai keselamatan Aetos. Oleh kerana kes-kes ini, saya faham jika masyarakat Melayu/Islam merasa bimbang dan khuatir dan kurang pasti apa yang harus mereka lalukan. Jawapannya mudah – bekerjasama dan berganding bahu dengan Pemerintah. 

Pemerintah tidak mahu masyarakat Islam disangsi oleh kaum-kaum lain. Kita tahu masyarakat Islam Singapura amnya mengecam keras ideologi pengganasan.  Mereka juga menghargai serta menyumbang kepada keamanan dan kesejahteraan yang kita nikmati. Marilah kita bekerja kuat, bekerja rapat; kukuhkan hubungan antara kaum kita dan melindungi satu sama lain. Jika anda kenal sesiapa anggota keluarga atau kawan-kawan yang terjebak, laporkanlah dengan segera kepada pihak polis atau MUIS atau RRG – bukan untuk menghukum mereka tetapi untuk menolong mereka kembali ke pangkal jalan. Bersama-sama, kita boleh mengatasi cabaran ekstremisma dan terrorisme ini.