K Shanmugam on radicalisation: Authorities must ‘fight for the hearts and minds of young people’

K Shanmugam on radicalisation: Authorities must ‘fight for the hearts and minds of young people’

Channel NewsAsia·2018-02-10 16:05

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam speaking to Channel NewsAsia on Friday, Feb 9, 2018.

SINGAPORE: Every case of radicalisation is serious and the authorities must engage in a fight for the hearts and minds of young people in order for Singapore to survive as a multiracial, multireligious country, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said on Friday (Feb 9).

He was speaking to Channel NewsAsia several hours after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that a self-radicalised Malaysian man working in Singapore was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and repatriated to Malaysia. 

Muhammad Nur Hanief Abdul Jalil, 33, was working as a driver with a Singapore airfreight company. He had access to the restricted Changi Airfreight Centre, which provides services to Changi Airport. While there was no indication that he had tried to radicalise others or plan any attacks in Singapore, MHA said his radicalisation made him a security threat.

Mr Shanmugam said: “Every case of radicalisation is serious; we are equally concerned when a kindergarten assistant is radicalised with access to very young children. Parents are very concerned. We take this very seriously, we have been aware of these risks in different sectors for some time. We have taken, will continue to take steps that are doable, that are within our power to take.”

Last year, Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, a 22-year-old contract infant-care assistant with the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots pre-school programme, was detained for radicalism under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

When asked about the availability of online content that espouses radicalisation, Mr Shanmugam said such content is “always a challenge” and that we have to be “realistic about the extent to which we can deal with it”.

Mr Shanmugam added that the “real antidote” is to “gather our young people” as well as have the authorities look at the content put out by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and other Muslim leaders, and point out what is wrong when necessary. 

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