The Singapore authorities are continuing to pick up “a trickle of people” connected with terrorism each month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday (21 August).
“One or two” such people are picked up every month, Lee said in his National Day Rally speech.
Four Singaporeans were dealt with by the Singapore Police Force on 19 August for being radicalised and had planned to head off to Syria. Three of them had family connections in Syria while the fourth suspect had links with Batam, Lee said.
Terrorism is not just an external problem but also a domestic one, and Singaporeans are not “entirely immune to jihadist propaganda” with a dozen of Singaporeans arrested for being radicalised, Lee added.
Citing two recent examples where a group of six suspected terrorists were arrested in Batam recently, Lee said terrorist groups have been active in Southeast Asia.
The group, led by Gigih Rahmat Dewa, had planned to fire a rocket to hit Marina Bay Sands from Batam, which according to Lee won’t be easy.
“But if you missed (Marina Bay Sands) you may hit something else,” said Lee, who added that the plan by Gigih was not the only definite plan by terrorists to attack targets in Singapore.
Meanwhile, Lee said that there is a need to strengthen the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) by making it compulsory.
Under the new ruling, all asatizahs, or Islamic teachers, must be registered under the scheme, with those educated abroad needing to attend a professional development course before they get registered to better understand Singapore’s context.
“I support these proposals and I commend the Malay/Muslim community for taking the initiative to deal with a sensitive problem. These measures will ensure that all asatizahs in Singapore understand how Islam is practised here and can guide their students to live in harmony with fellow Singaporeans of all races and religions,” said Lee.
In his speech at ITE College Central, Lee said that he will be launching the SG-Secure movement in September. The movement is a call to action for all Singaporeans to be sensitised, trained and mobilised to protect the society from a terrorist attack.
“Ultimately, what matters most is our resolve to hold together and fight to defend our place in the world,” said Lee.