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MHA: 23 self-radicalised Singaporean ISA detainees have been released to-date

60 self-radicalized individuals, including 48 Singaporeans, have been detained or issued with ROs under the Internal Security Act since 2007. Of 30 Singaporean detainees, 23 have been released so far.



SINGAPORE: Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, disclosed that to date, 60 self-radicalized individuals, including 48 Singaporeans, have been detained or issued with Restriction Orders (ROs) under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

In response to a Parliamentary Question filed by Christopher James de Souza, Member of Parliament for Holland–Bukit Timah GRC, Minister Shanmugam revealed that among the 30 self-radicalized Singaporean detainees, 23 have been released to date.

Additionally, among the 18 self-radicalized Singaporeans subjected to ROs, the ROs of 14 have been allowed to lapse.

MP de Souza queried the MHA minister about an update on rehabilitation efforts for those who are self-radicalised.

Minister Shanmugam stated that the Internal Security Department (ISD) first encountered a case of self-radicalization under the ISA in 2007.

He assured that ISD adopts a comprehensive approach to the rehabilitation of these detainees and RO supervisees.

Volunteers from the Religious Rehabilitation Group offer them proper religious teachings and interpretations to counter the radical ideologies they have been exposed to, he said.

Minister Shanmugam emphasized that ISD psychologists work with them to address other factors contributing to their radicalization, such as their inclination towards hatred and violence.

He added that the detainees or RO supervisees are also provided with social support to facilitate their reintegration into society, including assistance for their families through the network of community welfare organizations under the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group.

“These efforts have led to a high rehabilitation success rate, ” said Minister Shanmugam.

He further stated that ISD has been refining its rehabilitation approach in response to the increasing number of self-radicalized youths in recent years.

“Apart from correcting the radical ideology they had imbibed, ISD also looks into other factors such as their lack of critical thinking skills and mental resilience to cope with life stressors. A mentoring programme has also been introduced for them.”

In January, ISD revealed that a Restriction Order (RO) under ISA was issued to a 16-year-old Secondary 4 student in November 2023. ISD said he was influenced by online far-right extremist propaganda and identified himself as a white supremacist.

Separately, ISD released a 19-year-old Singaporean from detention and issued him with a Suspension Direction (SD) in January 2024, as he had made good progress in his rehabilitation and is assessed to no longer pose an imminent security threat.

Critique surrounding the ISD enforcement of Singapore’s ISA

The role of the ISD, an agency overseen directly by the Prime Minister and primarily responsible for administering ISA, is not without controversy.

Following the 1989 Hat Yai agreement’s influence and a change in geopolitical threats, the ISD redirected its attention from communist threats to combating Islamic extremism and potential acts of terrorism, a shift underlined by events such as the Jakarta Stock Exchange bombing and the 9/11 attacks.

In alignment with this trend, the Singapore government has rebranded the ISA as a crucial tool in combating religious extremism and terrorism, as portrayed by Murray Hunter in his article in July 2021.

In fact, under the Internal Security Act, the Singapore government holds extensive authority for arbitrary arrest and detention, executed through executive orders.

According to Section 8 of the ISA, individuals deemed a significant risk to Singapore’s national security can be detained for up to two years without trial, with the possibility of indefinite renewals.

The ISA primarily serves as a tool for preventive detention, enabling the confinement of suspected threats without punitive measures. Initial detention for up to 30 days can be initiated solely based on the authorization of a police superintendent, without the requirement of a warrant or court order.

According to Hunter, the ISA is portrayed as safeguarding a peaceful society, with recent detentions of alleged ‘Islamists’ reaching the highest recorded numbers since the 1960s.

Media reports suggest that those detained are often individuals on the path to radicalization, engaging in activities such as fundraising, donating, or providing assistance.

For instance, the case of Mohamed Fairuz Junaidi, 39, who was apprehended for considering travel to Syria to join ISIS, and Rasidah Mazaln, 62, reportedly communicating with individuals suspected of extremist ties.

However, Hunter highlights the lack of an official definition for radicalization within the ISA process, rendering its criteria for detention highly subjective, particularly considering the diverse range of ideas and beliefs within Islam.

Hunter’s article also mentioned that a past detainee revealed that “If you reject the authorities’ accusations, they will keep detaining you.”

According to the detainee’s testimony, the ISD aims to eliminate threats to the government’s morality, ideology, and ideas.

“By admitting you are a communist or terrorist, the ISD and government can claim the arrests and detention under ISA was justified, and more importantly, discredit any arguments and activism that the accused was involved in.”

“Refusal to confess means they can’t justify the arrest and can’t afford to allow the ex-detainee to talk about the injustice, after release, ” the detainee told Asia Sentinel.

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Radicalisation is just a dumb belief system of the mind. There’s no cure for stupidity except to keep them locked up and throw away the key.

I think that the authorities are barking up the wrong tree. More concerning is that with the influx of foreigners, especially those from India, given the treatment of minorities and Muslims back in their homeland, they could do the same here. And when they become the majority, who knows what is going to happen.

They think….just think they only got 60 out of which 48 which are locals?
Just like enforcement to catch unauthorised pmd…only 51!😆😆😆😆🤣🤣🤣🤣