Shanmugam: We could have been a target

The detentions of eight radicalised Bangladeshi men who were planning to stage attacks back home were a reminder of a wave of radicalisation sweeping through the world and this region, noted Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday.

"We could have been a target because they were prepared to attack anywhere. If they had been directed to attack in Singapore, they would have attacked in Singapore. So it shows the seriousness," he said.

He added that security agencies here had done well to identify these men and move in quickly.

Mr Shanmugam was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a closed-door forum on religious extremism at Temasek Polytechnic.

He also hit back at comments made this morning by Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan, who had previously called for the Internal Security Act to be abolished.

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Copy of a bomb-making instruction manual found in the possession of Rahman Mizanur. This is the cover page of the manual. Photo: MHA

Dr Chee yesterday sidestepped questions on the Act but said the terror problem in Singapore was an immigration issue.

"I think this shows a lack of understanding of the nature of the problem," said Mr Shanmugam, pointing out that hundreds have been arrested in the region for radicalisation, including Singaporeans in Singapore.

"So what does Dr Chee suggest? That we say no to all foreign workers? Or we say no to all foreign workers who are Muslim? I think he should clarify," he added.

He pointed out that there were "tens of thousands of Bangladeshi workers" here who work in construction and as cleaners in town councils.

"So what do we do? Send them all back? Who is going to do their jobs? And also in the construction sector, (if) you send them back, who suffers? Singaporeans will lose their jobs too," added Mr Shanmugam.

These matters, he said, "require careful consideration, proper thought and we should all just avoid taking cheap shots at political opportunism".

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