Published: 28 January 2016
Mr Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in light of growing religious radicalization of youths in the region (a) what plans are in place to further engage religious organizations in Singapore to look out for youths-at-risk; (b) whether informal religious groups are tracked for potential risks; and (c) whether there are controls over visits by radical overseas religious leaders to Singapore.
1. The threat of the religious radicalisation of our youth is a serious one.
2. The Government has been working with various community groups and organisations to deal with this issue. Amongst other things, we work with the Inter-Racial and Religious Harmony Circles (IRCCs). MCCY has been engaging the leaders of religious organisations as well as youth leaders in the community and our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to sensitise them to the threat of radicalisation and on the need to be vigilant. We will continue to work with community organisations and Self Help Groups (SHGs), CDAC, Mendaki, Eurasian Association and SINDA to increase awareness of this issue among our young people.
3. Our local Muslim community and religious organisations have also put in considerable effort to counter the radical ideology of the jihadi terrorist groups like ISIS. They are also tailoring their messages and engagement platforms, including social media platforms, to better reach out to young people.
4. Besides engaging youths, we have to take other steps to reduce radical religious influences in Singapore. For example, we do not allow foreign religious preachers to come to Singapore if their teachings are intolerant of other religious faiths and practices. Their teachings are available on the Internet. Even if they do not say these things in Singapore, we cannot allow them to build up their following in Singapore because fundamentally those teachings will destroy our society.
5. Mr Yam also asked whether informal religious groups are tracked for potential risks. Freedom of religion is guaranteed under our Constitution. However, any religious group – whether it is registered or an informal one – that preaches values or promotes actions that are directly contrary to our social harmony and cohesion, or threaten our safety and security, will be treated as a security risk.