by Teo Soh Lung
According to the latest press release of the Ministry of Home Affairs, three Indonesian domestic workers who have been working in Singapore for between six to 13 years were issued with detention orders under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in September 2019. They were Anindia Afiyantari, Retno Hernayani, and Turmini.
All three were alleged to have been “radicalised” by “viewing online materials related to the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and became convinced that ISIS was fighting for Islam and that its use of violence against “infidels” was justified.” The ministry alleged that they participated in social media chat groups and channels. No evidence of any plan or weapons were produced by the authority. There was however an allegation that they had “donated funds [the amount of which is not disclosed] to overseas-based entities for terrorism-related purposes … “
The government is fond of using the word “radicalised”. What exactly does this word mean?
To be radical is to be extreme. What behaviour must be exhibited before one can be said to be “radicalised?” Would browsing the web for horror movies or beheadings alone amount to being “radicalised?” Does donating a little money to a cause amount to the person being radicalised? Does the Internal Security Department employ experts who can read and analyse the minds of detainees before detention orders are issued?
A person’s loss of freedom and employment cannot be taken lightly. Foreign workers pay a lot of money to come to Singapore to work. In repatriating and detaining foreign workers under the ISA, the ministry should explain its actions. It should disclose evidence of alleged terror activities and not simply claim that their alleged activities rendered them a security threat to Singapore. It is easy to make allegations.
The ministry tells us that the total number of alleged “radicalised” foreign domestic workers arrested since 2015 is 19. While the recent three were issued with detention orders, the earlier 16 were all repatriated, presumably after 30 days of detention and interrogation with or without ill-treatment. No one knows if they were represented by lawyers or whether the Indonesian Embassy was informed of their arrests and repatriations.
There is sadly a lack of transparency in all ISA cases, whether these involve foreigners or locals. Since all the detainees will not be tried in open court, Singapore has committed serious breaches of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We should stop telling the world that we observe the rule of law.
This was first published on Function 8’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.