Speaking at a Home Team Dining-In dinner event at the Senior Police Officers’ Mess on Wednesday (2 Dec), Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that violent extremism is not just a security challenge, but also a social issue.
“We must inoculate our people against extremist ideology so that they do not become radicalised.”
He added that Singapore must also be prepared for attacks. “We must strengthen our social resilience, so that we can recover from any such incident and emerge stronger as one people, and not be torn apart by fear and mistrust”.
Mr Teo explained that the global threat of violent extremism is real, and warned that it could remain with Singapore for many more years.
Citing the recent terror attacks in Paris, as well as people who have gone to join militants in Syria and returned home with “dangerous knowledge and new networks to cause harm”, he noted that Singapore has detained self-radicalised citizens who had planned to join the ISIS militant group or carry out attacks in the country.
He also warned that other countries’ domestic issues could impact the country as well, and that Singapore is closely watching developments in the region.
“We will face a more difficult regional environment, where we need to be prepared for domestic issues in our neighbouring countries manifesting themselves as bilateral issues or spilling over and affecting our security,” he said.
He pointed to two neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, where the former is facing a fundamental change in its politics, as well as racial and religious issues, while the latter is a new administration taking shape under President Joko Widodo.
“We want to see a peaceful, stable region so that Singapore and all our neighbours can continue to develop and thrive, and our people can continue to enjoy a safe and secure living environment,” he said.
The event was held in honour of Mr Teo, formerly the Minister for Home Affairs. At the dinner, current Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam lauded Mr Teo for his work over the past four and a half years.
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Source: “Extremism not just a security challenge: DPM Teo”, (Channel NewsAsia, 2 Dec 2015)