The two ISIS attacks planned on Singapore in 2016 will not be the last of its kind, said President Halimah Yacob on Saturday (Jan 27).
With the terrorism threat to Singapore at its highest in recent years, it is also likely that the country will see more cases of foreign religious teachers preaching hate, said President Halimah in a speech at the inaugural Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) Convention held at Suntec City Convention.
“Two ISIS terror attacks were planned in Singapore on 2016 and disaster was avoided on our shores only because of our security agencies … Such threats will not be the last, warned President Halimah.
In August 2016, Indonesia foiled a plot by Batam-based terrorist to launch a rocket attack at the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. Several months before that, local authorities had also mitigated a threat by foreign ISIS militants to carry out an attack on Singapore.
In her speech, President Halimah also brought up the example of the four individuals who were issued detention orders by the authorities last year because they were radicalised by propaganda put out by terrorist groups and radical elements in cyberspace.
“We will not see the last of Singaporeans being influenced by what they read and who they meet online. We will likely see more cases of foreign religious teachers preaching hate, or preachers exhorting followers to stay away from those who do not share the same faith,” added President Halimah.
This means that Singaporeans should not shy away from talking about sensitive issues such as race and religion.
“Beyond interactions and friendships, understanding each other is also important to buttress mutual respect between communities,” she added.
INITIATIVES TO PREVENT CORROSION OF SOCIAL FABRIC
In her welcome speech at the event, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu also highlighted that Singapore must recognise the threat of segregationist beliefs and practices, “which can corrode our social fabric when different faith groups denigrate or pull away from each other”.
To build stronger ties in the community, the government has created platforms such as the Broadening Religious and Racial Interaction through Dialogue and General Education (Bridge) programme.
One of its initiatives is a series of conferences titled Ask Me Anything, organised by the Association of Muslim Professionals. A dialogue held last year was attended by more than 100 participants and featured a short play that presented different interpretations of a young Muslim couple on issues such as fasting and other Islamic rituals.
To foster closer ties among Singaporeans, Ms Fu said the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will work with the South East Community Development Council (CDC) to scale up the Common Senses For Common Spaces interfaith dialogue series, introduced in 2016.
There will be new formats touching on the basic tenets of faiths, commonalities across different faiths, as well as in-depth discussions on religious identity and sharing of personal stories, she added.