Excerpts from the speech by Minister of Home Affairs, DPM Wong Kan Seng, at the ISD Intelligence Service Promotion Ceremony, on April 15. (Read the full speech here.)
Minister says government will deal with potential protesters at APEC meeting in November and that the authorities is confident of capturing Mas Selamat. DPM Wong also warned about mixing religion with politics.
Religion and politics
“ISD has a critical responsibility in helping to ensure that individuals and incidents do not threaten our racial and religious harmony. ISD officers will have to continue to be on the alert for over-zealous elements or those who attempt to mix religion with politics.”
“If we allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency because there have been no major attacks in our region in the last few years, or dismiss lightly possible terrorist threats, we do so at our own peril. We have to sustain a high level of vigilance. For example, we have to work on the assumption that all the high profile events we are organising this year including sporting events such as the Asian Youth Games and Formula One race, are possible terrorist opportunities.
First, some local and foreign groups may use the APEC Summit in Singapore later this year to promote their agendas through unlawful means. They may try to instigate our citizens to break the law through acts of civil disobedience, like staging street protests and demonstrations. Some foreigners may themselves decide to come to Singapore to participate in such activities.
We have just seen the G20 protests in London. Thousands of protestors had taken to the streets, with the more violent among them damaging public property and business premises. In Thailand over the last one year, thousands of protestors have caused grave damage not just to physical property, but to livelihoods and the economy of the country as tourists are staying away. We have also seen on television street battles between protestors and authorities, causing injuries to many people and some have died as a result. I do not believe that Singaporeans would want such violence to happen here, and with what we have seen time and again in other countries, it would be naïve of us to believe that nothing untoward will happen during street demonstrations.
In Singapore, it is only a tiny group of irresponsible and selfish individuals who have been pushing this line of civil disobedience. They do not care for the interests and safety of other Singaporeans; they are only interested in themselves. There are avenues for them to express their views within the bounds of the law. Unlawful activities will not be tolerated. Parliament has just passed the Public Order Act to deal with those intent on disrupting public order. We will implement the law firmly. Similarly, while we welcome foreigners to Singapore, those who come here to subvert our laws will not be welcomed.
I know that the past year has been a particularly difficult one for ISD. You had to face the reality that security lapses led to the escape of Mas Selamat Kastari. I know that ISD officers, more than any one else, were deeply pained over this. Years of hard, gruelling work that led to the successful disruption of terrorist plots and the capture of numerous terrorists were set back by that lapse. Years of quiet work in the background successfully dealing with potentially explosive race and religious incidents, espionage and other security threats, have been overshadowed.
I have been regularly updated on the Department’s efforts to track Mas Selamat Kastari down. I have no doubt of your determination. I have confidence that with patience – which has always been a virtue of the Department – we will recapture him.