“Singapore's multi-racial, multi-religious identity is its strength,” said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean while speaking today at a lunch for members of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), Inter-Agency Aftercare Group, and other community leaders and volunteers to thank them for their contribution to Singapore's counter-terrorism rehabilitation and various social integration programmes.
Teo said, “It takes effort to maintain religious peace and harmony in Singapore, whether it is mechanisms like housing and education policies to promote multiracialism, the Group Representation Constituency scheme, or the recent changes to the elected Presidency.”
Delving into the history of Singapore, he said, “When we became independent, all our communities in Singapore resolved to live together and build a multiracial society. With so much racial and religious conflict even in our own region, it takes special efforts and measures to keep Singapore peaceful and harmonious.”
Speaking in Malay, he said, “ The terror threat in Singapore is at its highest level since authorities dismantled the Jemaah Islamiyah group in 2001. While there has been good work by rehabilitation groups and volunteers, more needs to be done.”
He said, “First, individuals who show signs of being radicalised should be reported to relevant agencies early, so that they can receive religious and psychological counselling. This can help to save them from harming themselves and others, and bringing even more distress to their loved ones.”
The main aim of the Religious Rehabilitation Group is to raise awareness among the Muslim community about its Resource and Counselling Centre, to help those at risk.
The Muslim community must also do its part to help at-risk individuals and families integrate into the society, and steer them away from the influence of radical ideas, he said.
He urged groups like RRG to help the community adopt inclusive practices and social norms that will allow Singaporeans to interact with one another freely.
The Deputy Prime Minister also noted that the Muslim community has supported the move to make the Asatizah Recognition Scheme mandatory for religious leaders. The scheme requires religious leaders to be registered with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), so that what they teach can guide the community to practise what is relevant for Singapore.
He said, “Our asatizahs are well-positioned to impart religious knowledge from credible sources that is contextualised to our multi-religious society. MUIS is also training asatizahs to use social media to engage the community.
He stressed that the Government will act firmly to stop preachers of any religion who promote teachings that cause friction between different religions.