Terrorism can tear Singapore’s society apart, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned during his annual independence day address delivered August 8.
As I have written previously, officials in Singapore been sounding alarm bells about the rising threat from the Islamic State (ISIS), warning that the group may establish a base in Southeast Asia and could be destructive to Singapore’s social fabric (See: “Islamophobia Could Destroy Singapore: Shanmugam”).
Just a few days ago, Indonesia announced that it had arrested a group of militants planning an attack in Singapore with a rocket, a development that came following a string of recent ISIS attacks in several countries including Turkey, Bangladesh, France, and Malaysia. Singapore is a member of the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, and Lee revealed during his visit to the United States last week that the country would boost its contribution to the fight against ISIS with a new medical team in Iraq (See: “Singapore to Deepen Role in Islamic State Fight”).
During his August 8 message to the nation commemorating 51 years of independence, Lee listed the threat of terrorism as one of the three fresh challenges that Singapore would have to confront, with the other two being managing the country’s changing economy and politics.
He warned that extremist terrorism could tear the country’s harmonious, multi-racial society apart, with authorities already detaining self-radicalized Singaporeans and foreign workers.
“[E]xtremist terrorism can tear our society apart,” Lee said. “If a terrorist attack were to occur here, will we stand together, or will we fall apart?”
Lee said he was confident that Singapore would be able to overcome this challenge. He said the city-state had fully acknowledged the threat and its citizens had taken a clear and united stand against attacks and the ideology that drove them.
However, he also highlighted that this unity would have to be sustained even during times of crisis.
“[T]he most fundamental factor in keeping Singapore exceptional is not good plans or adequate resources; it is whether we remain united,” Lee said. “It is our shared resolve to tackle challenges together that determines whether we succeed, and whether our children have a brighter future.”