Strong anti-ISIS stand 'a responsible move'

Strong anti-ISIS stand 'a responsible move'
Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli (left) calls on Jordan Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Abdullah Ensour.

SINGAPORE is taking a firm stand against militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because it is the responsible thing to do, said Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli.

But the move may also make Singapore an ISIS target, he added.

Mr Masagos, who is on an official visit to Jordan, made the point at a closed-door dialogue on Monday in Irbid city, barely 20km from Jordan's border with Syria and less than 100km, or two hours' drive, from where ISIS is fighting in Syria.

"Singapore has to be a responsible player on the world stage," he told about 70 Singaporean students studying in Jordan.

"It is about the rule of law... They (ISIS extremists) are acting as a non-state player, they obey no rules that the world has set for itself."

For example, ISIS does not comply with the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war and it executes "people who are probably innocent", he added.

But while Singapore's stand "will have consequences", he believes that "whether or not we participate (in the fight), Singapore is a prized target".

His comments follow Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's statement in Milan last Friday, after the Asia-Europe Meeting of country leaders, that Singapore is seriously considering how it can be a helpful partner in the fight against ISIS.

Despite the ISIS attacks in neighbouring countries, Singaporean Taufiq Yahya, who is studying Arabic in Jordan's capital Amman, feels safe in the country.

"The reason is that Jordanians take security seriously," said the 30-year-old, a former enrichment centre owner who attended the dialogue with Mr Masagos.

He moved to Jordan this year with his wife and two children, aged four and one.

The dialogue was not part of Mr Masagos' official itinerary, which includes meetings with Jordan's ministers.

On Monday, he met Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs Nasser Judeh.

Yesterday, he called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, who is also the Minister of Defence.

He also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Singapore Civil Service College and Jordan's Institute of Public Administration on training Jordanian officials in Singapore.

Today, he visits the city of Ramallah in the Palestinian Territories, where he will meet Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki.

They will discuss areas where Singapore can help Palestine in capacity building.

Last week, Singapore announced a US$100,000 (S$127,000) contribution to a United Nations Children's Fund programme to help provide water and sanitation in Gaza.

Tomorrow, Mr Masagos will head to the city of Petra in southern Jordan that is famed for its rock-cut architecture, to explore tourism cooperation between Singapore and Jordan.

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