Vi­tal for aSEaN couN­triES to SharE iNfo oN rE­turN­iNg fight­ErS

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Not­ing that fight­ers re­turn­ing from Iraq and Syria pass through Asean coun­tries, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Teo Chee Hean said yes­ter­day that it is im­por­tant for po­lice forces in the re­gion to ex­change in­tel­li­gence and bio­met­ric in­for­ma­tion of some known in­di­vid­u­als.

One way to fa­cil­i­tate that will be through an im­proved ver­sion of a se­cure, Web-based data­base Asean­pol (Asean Na­tional Po­lice) Data­base Sys­tem, or e-ADS 2.0.

Speak­ing at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 37th Asean­pol Con­fer­ence, Mr Teo said the ter­ror­ist threat in South-east Asia “is at its high­est level in re­cent years”, with the Is­lamic State (IS) try­ing to es­tab­lish a caliphate in the re­gion.

Hun­dreds of fight­ers from the re­gion have joined the IS ranks and car­ried out deadly at­tacks in cap­i­tals of As­so­ci­a­tion of South-east Asian Na­tions (Asean) coun­tries.

“Re­turn­ing fight­ers from Syria and Iraq also mean that more of them are travers­ing our borders, pass­ing through our coun­tries on the way there, and on the way back. We must there­fore co­or­di­nate more closely among the law en­force­ment agen­cies in Asean ...” said Mr Teo, who is also Co­or­di­nat­ing Min­is­ter for Na­tional Se­cu­rity.

Apart from the ter­ror­ist threat, he cited cy­ber crime and drugs, as two other key chal­lenges faced by Asean coun­tries. A com­mon thread in ad­dress­ing them is “that we must be bold and cre­ative and use technology and IT so­lu­tions to sup­port our work and en­hance timely in­for­ma­tion shar­ing,” he said.

At yes­ter­day’s open­ing con­fer­ence, which was held at Re­sorts World Sen­tosa, Home Af­fairs and Law Min­is­ter K Shan­mugam also launched the e-ADS 2.0 which al­lows po­lice forces in Asean coun­tries to ex­change in­for­ma­tion on re­gional crime trends and se­cu­rity is­sues.

The older ver­sion of the e-ADS was launched in 2006.

The new sys­tem en­ables po­lice forces to share best prac­tices and has sev­eral new features, like the Asean­pol e-Li­brary, a dis­cus­sion fo­rum to ex­change ideas and opin­ions among the forces, and an an­nounce­ment por­tal.

“The e-ADS 2.0 will re­sult in bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity and ex­change of in­for­ma­tion among Asean law en­force­ment agen­cies,” Mr Teo said.

To in­oc­u­late the com­mu­nity against rad­i­cal ide­ol­ogy, Mr Shan­mugam called for greater en­gage­ment by Muis, the Re­li­gious Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Group and other com­mu­nity groups.

The govern­ment also takes a firm stand against ex­clu­sivist preach­ers.

In April, an In­dian imam was fined S$4,000 and repa­tri­ated for mak­ing of­fen­sive re­marks against Jews and Chris­tians. Last month, two for­eign Chris­tian preach­ers who had made of­fen­sive com­ments about peo­ple of other re­li­gions had their ap­pli­ca­tions to speak in Sin­ga­pore re­jected.

Turn­ing to other chal­lenges, Mr Shan­mugam said that the Malay-Mus­lim com­mu­nity is over-rep­re­sented in drug statis­tics. Over half (53 per cent) of drug of­fend­ers ar­rested last year were Malay, up from 32 per cent in 2006. A sim­i­lar pro­por­tion (54 per cent) of new drug of­fend­ers nabbed last year were Malay, more than dou­ble the 22 per cent recorded in 2006.

Malay-Mus­lim or­gan­i­sa­tions can help ad­dress this, he said. Grass­roots lead­ers can reach out to res­i­dents in need through house vis­its and com­mu­nity aid pro­grammes, and part­ner oth­ers in ad­vo­cat­ing against drugs.

The par­tic­i­pa­tion rate of MalayMus­lims in com­mu­nity events is lower than the na­tional av­er­age, he said. “If your res­i­dent says this is po­lit­i­cal and this is con­trolled by the Govern­ment, tell them: ‘You can vote for the op­po­si­tion but still come and take part in the ac­tiv­i­ties.’”

The third chal­lenge is em­ploy­ment for Malay-Mus­lim pro­fes­sion­als, man­agers, ex­ec­u­tives and tech­ni­cians (PMETs). To help PMETs fac­ing job loss or switch­ing sec­tors, the Govern­ment set up a new com­mit­tee — cochaired by Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­taries Muham­mad Faishal Ibrahim and Am­rin Amin — in March.

The talk, at­tended by 400 par­tic­i­pants, was fol­lowed by a closed-door di­a­logue on ter­ror­ism that in­cluded Min­is­ter in Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice Chan Chun Sing and Mr Am­rin.


At a Peo­ple’s As­so­ci­a­tion talk for Malay-Mus­lim staff mem­bers and grass­roots lead­ers, Mr Shan­mugam high­lighted ter­ror­ism and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion as one of three chal­lenges be­sieg­ing the com­mu­nity.

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