ISIS arrests: Let’s not subcontract our security to the government alone


I’ve read the reactions to news of the arrests:

“Kudos MHA!”

“Well done boys in blue!”

“We won’t complain about the ISA again!”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong in thanking these national organisations…but we had better remind ourselves not subcontract our vigilance entirely to national bodies.

Terrorism is not some far-away problem anymore. It is very real and very here.

Perhaps it is good fortune to have managed to stop something before it escalated. And it is also a bit strange to discover that the arrested militants have had no plans to conduct an operation in Singapore.

Yes, Ministry of Home Affairs did well this round to identify and stop the persons involved. But we shouldn’t be lulled into becoming a mere by-stander and pass the buck to the government.

K Shanmugam

Just yesterday, Home Affairs Ministers K Shanmugam spoke about the worrying developments in the region and in the Middle East.

“…the threat of a terrorist attack. It is not a question of ‘if” but “when“.”

Shanmugam acknowledged that extremists are evolving new ways of attacking defenceless people. Their KPI is to kill maximum numbers. Hence we need to anticipate and prepare for the attacks which will come.

The “we” here begs emphasis.

This is not (just) an MHA responsibility. This is not (just) a national responsibility.

This is (insert your name here) responsibility.


Wouldn’t it have been different situation if a citizen was the one to have discovered the group and its planned activities?



‘Outsourcing’ the responsibility of protecting our nation to the government will only mean that we become dependent and helpless in the face of fear and terrorism. But if we take the call and be on guard, everyone shares the same responsibility of protecting one another and the land which we stand on.

The entire male population of Singapore is trained in the military, surely we all can have a larger role to play in this fiasco.

I would personally like to know how we can more pro-actively work to de-radicalising the radicals and strengthen our whistle blower network.

Labour MP Chan Chun Sing had asked for us to “…strengthen our efforts to integrate foreign workers and guard against ostracising them. It is also critical that we do not allow this incident to affect the strong ties we share with our fellow Muslim Singaporeans…” Yes, I think this is a good start.

These terrorists are getting increasingly active, but Singapore is a formidable machine – I think we have much to contribute yet.



Image Credits: Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia, Straits Times.

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Arthur Lee

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