SINGAPORE: In alerting authorities to individuals suspected of being radicalised, their friends and family should not feel that they they are "ratting" on their loved ones, but see it as a way of helping them, said Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the Home Team Academy's Workplan Seminar at the ICA Building on Tuesday (Jun 13), a day after Singapore detained its first female citizen for radicalism. The family of Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari had tried unsuccessfully to dissuade her, but did not report her to the authorities.
"You see someone going on the wrong path. Imagine if they take up arms, go out there and do something," Mr Shanmugam said on Tuesday.
"What's going to happen to them too? So you are actually saving them by approaching the agencies, the agencies will work with the family, religious experts and counsellors to get the person on the right path, essentially saving the person."
Mr Shanmugam said the family may or may not be in a position to help, and this is where experts come in.
He also spoke about the way Home Team officers have been monitoring and evolving their training in light of a variety of terrorist attacks in cities like London and Nice, where terrorists used vehicles to inflict attacks on civilians.
"Even before Nice, we had the ISIS ideology encouraging ISIS supporters across the world to use whatever they can find - stones, knives, vehicles ... and police have been working on all these scenarios and as attacks develop around the world, we of course contact our counterparts, see exactly what happened, what was the reaction ... and then look at our own situations," Mr Shanmugam said.
"So we are constantly monitoring, training, but we have been thinking of a variety of attacks, including vehicle attacks."
To that end, Mr Shanmugam also highlighted the Infrastructure Protection Act, which will be introduced later this year. He said the government decided it needed to take action and require building owners and others to take physical security measures.
Despite taking all these measures and the government having been "on top of the situation" so far, Mr Shanmugam said an attack could nevertheless happen.
Then, he said, what is within one's control is how society reacts the day after the attack.
"If we react in a divided way, if we react by pointing fingers, if we target any particular racial group or community, then we have lost and the terrorists have won," he said.
"(But) if we react in the way Londoners reacted, in the way Parisians reacted, that we are one family, one country and we will not let the terrorists win, we will come together across communities, then we win and they lose."
When asked if he thought Singaporeans would rally the way people did in those cities, Mr Shanmugam said his sense is that Singaporeans, "by and large", understand that any acts that happen are committed by isolated extremists.
"Based on that, I think we will react as a community. That's my belief," he said.