SINGAPORE: Five foreign domestic helpers working in Singapore were investigated over the past two years for suspected radicalism, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement on Monday (Dec 19).
They “did not pose an imminent security threat” at the time of the investigations, and were among 70 foreigners in Singapore investigated for radicalism, the ministry said.
The majority of the foreigners investigated were radicalised by propaganda on social media, and some in turn radicalised others, MHA said. They were deported after the authorities in their home countries were informed.
"None of them had any plans to carry out acts of violence in Singapore at the time they were investigated, but as they were in various stages of radicalism, their presence posed a security concern for Singapore," a ministry spokesperson said.
Foreign domestic workers make up about 17 per cent of Singapore's foreign workforce, or 237,100 out of 1.4 million workers, according to Ministry of Manpower statistics in June.
The MHA statement comes after an Indonesian woman who was allegedly planning to carry out a suicide bomb attack on the presidential palace in Jakarta was revealed to have worked in Singapore as a nanny. Dian Yuli Novi said she had spent one-and-a-half years in Singapore taking care of three children.
MHA said that during her time in Singapore between 2008 and 2009, Dian did not show signs of being radicalised. The ministry also said Singapore’s security agencies are in contact with their Indonesian counterparts on the case.
ONLINE RADICALISM PREVALENT "ALL OVER THE WORLD": MHA
Radicalism through the Internet and social is a "prevalent phenomenon all over the world" and requires more than government intervention to combat, MHA said.
"While the Government may block websites that promote radical ideology, owners of social media platforms have to play their part in ensuring that their platforms are not used to promote radicalism and terrorism," a spokesperson said.
A more effective approach may be to sensitise the public to the dangers of extremist rhetoric, and equip them with social media literacy so that they will not be vulnerable to terrorist propaganda on the Internet, the spokesperson said. Those who notice if someone close to them is becoming radicalised should inform the authorities, he added.
"The security agencies meanwhile continue to work closely with their foreign counterparts to share intelligence on terrorism activities, as international terrorism cuts across territorial boundaries."
The ministry also noted that both Singaporeans and foreigners have been investigated for radicalism in recent years. MHA said in August that four Singaporeans were dealt with under the Internal Security Act for supporting the Islamic State militant group. In July, four Bangladeshi nationals were jailed for plotting to finance terror attacks in Bangladesh.
"Regardless of whether he/she is a Singapore citizen or a foreigner, any person who engages in any activity that is inimical to Singapore’s national security and social cohesion will be firmly dealt with under the law," it said.