SINGAPORE: Since 2015, the Government has detected and repatriated a total of 9 maids who were found to have been radicalised, Second Minister of Home Affairs Desmond Lee revealed in Parliament on Tuesday (Jul 4).
In response to questions from Members of Parliament, he said his ministry had updated the House on 7 cases in January. But since then, they have detected another two.
One, he said, was a 25-year-old who intended to travel to Syria with her foreign boyfriend to join ISIS, while another was a 28-year-old who had worked in Singapore for 2 years. Similar to the earlier cases, both were ISIS supporters radicalised through social media.
“None of the 9 had plans to carry out acts of violence in Singapore,” he said. “However, we cannot condone support for any radical ideologies in Singapore, whether by locals or foreigners.”
“All 9 have been repatriated to their home countries.”
Mr Lee added that about 40 Bangladeshi nationals in Singapore were found to have been radicalised in 2015 and 2016.
All of them have been repatriated, except for six who are currently serving prison sentences in Singapore for terrorism financing offences.
SENSITISING FOREIGN WORKERS TO SINGAPORE’S MULTI-RELIGIOUS SOCIAL VALUES
Stressing the importance of addressing the threat of radicalised foreigners, Mr Lee said his ministry has been working closely with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in this area.
“After the arrest of the radicalised Bangladeshi nationals last year, we prepared an advisory for foreign workers,” he said. “We advised them to be alert, watch out for signs of radicalisation among their co-workers and to report any possible radicalisation to the authorities.”
“We will do more to sensitise our foreign workers to Singapore’s multi-religious social values. This will take place throughout their time working in Singapore.”
Mr Lee added that maids are required to go through a Settling-In Programme, in which they will be sensitised to the threat of radicalisation, and “made aware that any form of radicalisation will not be condoned in Singapore.”
WORKING THROUGH SCHOOLS
Mr Lee noted that most Singaporeans who have been radicalised were younger than 30, and some were in their teens.
He added that the fact that they were mainly self-radicalised online is “not surprising”.
“Our youths consume a lot of information from the Internet and social media,” he said. “Radical preachers and terrorist groups know this. They exploit these media to spread their radical ideologies and terrorist propaganda.”
Schools, he said, are therefore key platforms to counter these dangerous influences, and MHA approaches this from multiple aspects.
For one, MHA has worked with the Education Ministry (MOE) to incorporate counter-terrorism messages into the secondary school curriculum. Through social studies and Character and Citizenship Education lessons, students also learn values about living harmoniously in Singapore’s multiracial and multi-religious society, said Mr Lee.
Teachers and counsellors also look out for students who display antisocial behaviour, he added.
“We do our best to intervene and provide guidance early, to prevent such behaviour from spiraling into more dangerous forms of extremism,” he said.
MHA also conducts workshops for teachers and counsellors, he added, to “sensitise them to the heightened threat environment” as well as “increase their understanding of terrorist ideologies and telltale signs of radicalisation.”
“They play an important role in identifying students or coworkers who may be radicalised.”