Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam. Source: CNA

Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has instructed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to investigate several anti-Chinese remarks made by an Islamic religious teacher in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Shanmugam in a Facebook post on Fri (7 Feb) branded Abdul Halim bin Abdul Karim’s remarks which was made in a private Facebook post  — that the coronavirus was a form of retribution by Allah against Chinese for oppressing Muslim Uyghurs, and that the Chinese had questionable hygiene practices which caused the virus to spread — are “silly” and “can be rebutted by reference to other examples”.

Noting that other preachers have been “taken to task” for making relatively “less offensive” statements, Mr Shanmugam said that Mr Abdul Halim’s remarks against the Chinese in general, including Singaporean Chinese, “are simply unacceptable” and “can’t be left alone”.

“Meanwhile, it is to be welcomed that MUIS, PERGAS, the Association of Muslim Professionals, the Religious Rehabilitation Group, Muhammadiyah Association, and Singapore Kadayanallur Muslim League have spoken up to urge Singaporeans not to make insensitive comments,” said Mr Shanmugam.

Mr Abdul Halim, who made the offending remarks via Facebook under the name “Abd’ Al-Halim” on Wed (5 Feb), referred to recent news reports suggesting that the coronavirus can now be transmitted through human faeces, and claimed that the Chinese in Singapore and mainland China — unlike those in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei — are “ignorant” of the hygiene practices prescribed in Islam.

“We all know who does not clean themselves with water after defecating,” said Mr Abdul Halim, adding that there are many restrooms in Singapore that do not have bidets installed for the purpose of cleaning oneself after urinating or defecating. on Wed reported on Mr Abdul Halim’s Facebook remarks, and reproduced — with translation — a screenshot of his post and the supplementary comment under the post. added that the post — which was set to private, as seen in the screenshot — was shared with the website by the SMRT Feedback by the Vigilanteh page.

The website also said that SMRT Feedback by the Vigilanteh did not disclose how they had obtained the screenshot.

Further, it is not known as to how Minister Shanmugam was made aware of the matter.

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