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Monday, August 15, 2016

If an attack happens don't fear us



Jul 22, 2016 6:00am

If terrorists attack Singapore, what Mr Allaudin Mohamed, vice-chairman of Khalid Mosque in Joo Chiat, fears most is for his countrymen to fear him.

Because the reaction following several terrorist attacks around the globe has been reprisal attacks against the Muslim community.

In the last few years, Singapore government officials have been telling the public it is not a matter of "if" Singapore will be attacked - but "when".

And when that happens, Mr Allaudin, 63, hopes fellow Singaporeans will know that the Muslim community does not support such attacks.

He said: "Don't fear us. Come and walk with us. We only have one home. Let's work together to make Singapore our home."

Mr Allaudin, 63, has been an active member of the mosque and Geylang Serai Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) for over four decades.

But he is worried about the state of racial harmony in Singapore, following the recent slew of global terrorist attacks.

Mr Allaudin said: "I don't blame those who fear us. We must accept their concern. It is because they don't understand us."

He noted that one challenge the Muslim community faces is eradicating this fear.

He added: "I have no barriers. I champion humanity. My religion is for me, but the love of mankind is the most important.

"Breaking walls and building bridges is our topmost agenda."

He has collaborated with the Heart of God Church and Geylang United Temple to offer tuition to PSLE students of any race or religion.

This is part of a series of joint community programmes launched by the Muslim, Christian and Buddhist places of worship around Geylang Serai.

He also roped in young people of different races for the Multi-Racial Dumpling Festivalat Khalid Mosque this year, to expose them to Chinese culture.

Every year, Mr Allaudin, who is well known for his homemade briyani, hosts the President's Challenge Charity Briyani at the mosque and serves his briyani to everyone.

He said: "Whenever we cook briyani, we give it to all our non-Muslim neighbours. We also share our iftar meal (breaking of fast) with them."

Mr Allaudin has also collaborated with Chung Cheng High School to invite their Secondary 1 students to his mosque to learn about Islam.

Through these initiatives, he hopes to integrate the different races and educate the community on Muslim customs.


He added: "My main concern are youth and the lone wolf who might get influenced (by terrorist organisations)."

This is an issue close to his heart because he experienced the 1964 racial riots in Singapore.

Mr Allaudin said: "At that time, in the Joo Chiat community, the Malays and Chinese were very close. But there were rumours that an imam had been murdered by the Chinese. They had to have him announce on radio that he was alive."

He said no such murder had taken place. It was an attempt to stir racial dissent between Malays and Chinese.

Mr Allaudin said: "I have seen the evolution of the social fabric. Singapore's social fabric is a fragile thing."

Ms Nadiah Nor Zaini, 26, a nurse, is optimistic that Singapore's racial harmony is strong enough to withstand a terrorist attack.

She said: "I believe we Muslims integrate well with other races and there have been several initiatives like talks in mosques to create awareness that Islam is a peaceful religion."

Discrimination gives terrorists 'fuel'

Work together to defeat terrorism - that is Reverend Gabriel Liew's stand on terrorism.

The 56-year-old has been a pastor at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church and a Kampong Glam Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) council member for close to a decade.

On the tensions caused by recent global terrorist attacks, Reverend Liew said: "We need to unite together. We must not allow division. We must condemn acts of terrorism and work together to defeat it.

"If we discriminate against Muslims, terrorists will use it as fuel.

"We must understand that Muslims are getting killed too. We must reach out and embrace them."

He added: "Ignorance breeds fear and causes war because we fear the unknown. In the name of security, we can become bigoted and aggressive."

Reverend Liew wants to strengthen bonds between the different religious communities in Singapore.


Two days ago, he organised a trip to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's (Muis) Harmony Centre with 35 people from Methodist churches. The centre offers information about Islam and inter-faith activities.

The trip was intended to educate the community about Islam and ward off negative stereotypes.

Reverend Liew said: "We realised we have so much in common across the different religions. We all spread the message of justice, peace and compassion."

He believes violence arises when we forget this common ground that binds us.

On how the community can preserve racial harmony, he said: "We must be willing to venture out and reach out to other religions, to build trust, friendship and gain understanding of others."

Reverend Liew has also organised trips to the Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple in Jalan Bukit Merah for church members to bond with temple-goers over durian.

In the event of a terrorist attack, he said: "We must do the opposite of what terrorists expect us to do. We must stand together, affirm one another and unite to condemn this act.

"It takes moral courage to do the right thing."

Beatty Secondary School students Meenakshy Vinayan, Bao Zhi Xuan and Stacy Selvan, who are in Secondary 2, told The New Paper they often look forward to Racial Harmony Day.


Religion is a topic covered in a life lessons programme run by the school.

Literature lessons also integrate the racial harmony message, with students discussing scripts about tolerance.

For example, Meenakshy said her class read a book about terrorism in London.

Zhi Xuan added: "These activities teach us not to generalise. We should celebrate the meaning of the word 'harmony' not just on Racial Harmony Day, but every day."

We must do the opposite of what terrorists 
expect us to do. We must stand together, 
affirm one another and unite to condemn this act. It takes moral courage to do the right thing.

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He hits the books to battle depression



Jul 22, 2016 6:00am

Isolated by his friends and experiencing relationship problems, he was slowly afflicted with depression.

His interest in information technology (IT) was what kept his spirits up and offered him a lifeline.

Mr Choo Hong Xuan, 19, a student at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central, then devoted his time on honing his IT skills.

It paid off as he won the Gold Medal in the WorldSkills Singapore (WSS) last Friday for the IT Software Solutions for Business category.

The WSS offers a platform for ITE and polytechnic students to test their technical proficiency against international standards.

This year, there were 150 participants in 17 skill areas that included cooking and mechatronics.

Gold medallists from each category will represent Singapore in the WorldSkills Competition (WSC) in Abu Dhabi in October next year.

Last year, Team Singapore clinched a record number of one Silver Medal, two Bronze Medals, and 14 Medallions for Excellence in the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

In WSS, Mr Choo beat five other competitors to clinch the gold medal over three days of competition.

He performed a series of tasks related to the Singapore Air Show desktop application, to better manage booking and customer service.

To fight his depression, Mr Choo spent more time studying.


For four months, he would head to his school's laboratory every school day to prepare for the competition.

He said: "I practised past year papers and identified the gaps in my knowledge every school day for two to three hours. It was tiring, but I had to give it my best shot."

His depression started in Secondary 3, when he fell out with close friends, which made him feel lonely.

In 2014, he experienced relationship issues with a girl, which worsened his condition.

At ITE, his grades dropped from 3.7 in the previous semester to 1.6 that term.

Mr Choo said: "Sometimes I'd cry, but most of the time, I would just think.

"I once sat on the pavement in Sembawang. Passers-by asked me if I was okay, but my mind was just blank."

Today, his studies and prescribed medication have helped him excel at school.

Mr Lim Chin Heng, 40, his course instructor and Info-communication Technology lecturer, said: "Hong Xuan put in more than 10 hours of training per week and would read programming books and sites over the weekend.

"Despite being mentally exhausted at times, he really went above and beyond in his training."

Mr Choo added: "I feel much more confident now. I feel like I'm a step closer to becoming a successful person."

I feel much more confident now. I feel like I'm a step closer to becoming a successful person.

- ITE student Choo Hong Xuan

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Parliament discusses the Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill

PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES... Contempt of court

New Paper, July 12, 2016

Why do we need the law of contempt?

1 Court orders must be effectively enforced so that individuals can receive full protection of the law.

2 Families suffer when maintenance orders and other court orders are breached.

3 Individuals have the right to a fair trial. Effective contempt laws will protect them from being subject to trial by media.

4 To protect Courts from allegations of bias. Preserving high levels of trust in Singapore Courts ensures that Singaporeans remain confident of access to fair and effective justice.

What is new about the Bill?

1 The Bill will set out the law of contempt of court in statutory form, which brings clarity and certainty to what constitutes contempt, said the Ministry of Law.

Existing law of contempt is contained in common law, which is law based on judgments made in previous cases, said Singapore Management University Law Professor Jack Tsen-Ta Lee.

"Other offences like murder or theft are in the statutes, but the current law of contempt is unusual in that it's not (in the statutes)," he said.

"Clearly, (the Government) feels that putting it down in statute will make it clearer, and everyone can see what the maximum penalties will be."

Mr Sui Yi Siong, a lawyer at Harry Elias Partnership, said that a statute that spells out the sort of speech that is permissible would be helpful to all by stating clearly what can amount to a contempt of court offence.

2 The Bill puts in place a clear framework for punishment of contempt:

High Court or Court of Appeal: A fine up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.
Other Courts: A fine of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.
Q&A on law of contempt


1 I disobey court orders, such as refusing to pay a sum of money ordered by the court, or causing or abetting breach of court orders.

2 I publish material that interferes with or prejudices pending court proceedings, including prejudging issues in pending proceedings.

3 I make allegations of bias or impropriety against Singapore judges, or impugn the integrity of the courts.


1 I make fair criticism, which is a statement that might be disparaging against a court or judge, but is based on fact and is made in temperate terms, meaning no insults or swear words, said Professor Lee.

2 I report court proceedings fairly and accurately.

3 I make a report to the Chief Justice, the police, a law enforcement agency or other public authority regarding a judge's alleged misconduct or corruption.

- See more at:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

He planned to set up Islamic State here (2016)


- See more at:

An Australian-based Singaporean who portrayed himself as a social activist has been arrested for promoting terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and armed jihad.
Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, 44, was arrested this month while visiting Singapore, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday.
He has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for two years.
He is accused of using online platforms to propagate and spread his radical messages - which include glorifying ISIS and their violent actions and exhorting Muslims to take up arms in places like the Middle East, Palestinian territories, Myanmar and the Philippines.
At least two other Singaporeans were radicalised as a result.
One of them, Singaporean businessman Mohamed Saiddhin Abdullah, 33, identified Zulfikar, who was his Facebook friend, as the person who had influenced him to support ISIS. (See report, right.)
The other person, Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidik, 29, was detained under the ISA last year for terrorism-related activities.
Zulfikar had also planned to hold training programmes to persuade young Singaporeans to join his extremist agenda of replacing Singapore's secular, democratic system with an Islamic state, by violence if necessary, said the MHA.
Zulfikar is no stranger to controversy.
He rose to prominence in 2002 after he campaigned for the authorities to allow four Muslim girls to wear Islamic headscarves, or tudung, to school.
In May that year, Zulfikar was charged with trespassing at Tanglin police station. He had refused to leave the station after there was an illegal May Day rally at the Istana.
Zulfikar, a married father of six, was the former head of Muslim website Fateha, which was eventually shut down.
In 2002, he fled to Australia amid a police probe into a criminal defamation case for three articles that were posted on the Fateha website.
Zulfikar also made the news in 2014 as an active member of the Wear White movement, which opposes homosexuality and the gay rights event Pink Dot.
The Straits Times, which published Zulfikar's commentary on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in May this year, reported that he is a final-year PhD candidate at La Trobe University in Melbourne who researches International Institutionalism with a focus on Asean.
The MHA said Zulfikar was influenced as early as 2001 by jihadi-related material and was supportive of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Jemaah Islamiah.
In Australia, he continued to pursue radical ideology by joining the hard-line Hizbut Tahrir organisation.
He was also influenced by the teachings of a cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, who spread his extremist views online and was killed by a US-led drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
Like Awlaki, - a US-born Al-Qaeda leader - Zulfikar had an online presence and was active on Facebook and Twitter.
He posted on a variety of subjects from his research to politics, but several of his Facebook posts in 2014 showed his radical side.
His last Facebook post was on June 25, where he shared a video on atheism.
The MHA release stated: "At times he has tried to hide his real motivations by putting out moderate-sounding views.
"But in reality, he believes in the use of violence to overthrow the democratic system of government and the imposition of an Islamic caliphate."
While in Australia, Zulfikar set up an online group called Al-Makhazin in 2013 and a Facebook page called Al-Makhazin Singapore.
The MHA said: "Zulfikar has admitted that he had an ulterior motive for setting up Al-Makhazin Singapore, which he used as a platform to agitate on Muslim issues in Singapore and attack some Singaporean Muslims who did not share his views.
"His real agenda was in fact to provoke Muslims in Singapore into pushing for the replacement of the democratic system with an Islamic state in Singapore."
Another clue to Zulfikar's radicalisation is a widely circulated photo - first posted on his Facebook account in 2014 - of him and his children mimicking a pose commonly used by ISIS fighters while standing in front of a black flag that is commonly used by ISIS fighters.
The MHA said: "The Government takes a very serious view of efforts to undermine Singapore's constitutional democracy, and will take firm and decisive action against any person who engages in such activities."

NUS Student Dunking Video 2016


Jul 30, 016 6:00am
They were warned not to conduct inappropriate activities for freshmen but did so anyway.
Now, because of a handful of undergraduates, all student-organised freshman activities have been suspended at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The activities suspended include Orientation Week, also known as O Week, a five-day event that was scheduled to happen next week.
It was to be the final orientation camp before the school semester begins.
The unexpected measure follows the controversy over how some of the games at the orientation camps had become sexualised.
 The last straw appears to be a video that surfaced yesterday, showing students conducting dunking and ragging activities at Sheares Hall on Wednesday.
In the video, four students can be seen grabbing a limb of another student and dunking him into a body of water repeatedly while singing.
This was also carried out on a female student.
Another segment of the video then showed topless male students crawling on the floor while chanting obscenities.
NUS has since confirmed the video.
In a strongly-worded statement to the media yesterday, a spokesman for NUS said such activities were not condoned but were still carried out despite previous instructions on the matter.
"We are deeply disappointed that some of our students have flouted the rules and behaved in an unacceptable manner in organising freshmen activities," she said.
"Dunking or any other form of ragging is strictly banned under the university's guidelines for student activities.
"The university takes a very serious view of this breach and is currently conducting an investigation."
The spokesman added that all student-organised team-building activities for freshmen have been suspended until further notice.
The New Paper understands that ongoing camps were stopped halfway because of the suspension, and the participants were told to go home.
The suspension and video come in the wake of current investigations of the union camp and arts camp at NUS.
On Tuesday, TNP reported that orientation games at some of these camps had become sexualised.
In the report, one freshman told TNP that she was asked whose bodily fluids she would drink, while another watched her peers re-enact an incestuous rape scene as part of a forfeit.
Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung also put up a post on Facebook on Wednesday evening, condemning the sexualised activities at NUS' orientation camps as "reprehensible".
Yesterday, the NUS spokesman said that those responsible will be brought before the university's board of discipline.
"The instances of unacceptable behaviour and activities that have surfaced this week play no part in a university education," the spokesman said.
"The university is conducting thorough investigations into these unacceptable as well as unauthorised activities."
However, some activities for the freshmen are to continue.
The spokesman said: "The freshmen inauguration ceremonies, welcome receptions by deans, heads of department and masters, as well as faculty and department briefings, will continue as scheduled.
"The Nussu Rag and Flag activities, which raise funds for 22 Singapore charities, will continue."
NUS undergrad Janella Ooi, 21, is a committee member of one of the events that was affected by the suspension.
She said they had spent about half a year planning the event and a lot of their own money.
"We are really sad because our juniors put in a lot of effort and now it is completely undone," she said.
"But personally, I understand (the decision to suspend activities), and I was extremely appalled by the forfeit that promoted rape culture."
She added that Orientation Week was to be a time for freshmen to get used to university life, but that opportunity has now been taken away.
She said: "I feel that NUS could perhaps have some official who could oversee the activities to ensure that these rules are adhered to strictly."
Miss Hui Yan, 26, a marketing executive and NUS alumna, said she was previously a camp facilitator and feels that the rest of the school is being punished for the actions of just a few.
"It is an incredibly superficial and shortsighted move on the school's part, thinking that removing a one-week event will solve deep-rooted issues of sexual harassment and misogyny once and for all," she said.
"Careful planning has gone into the logistics in terms of ensuring overall safety and modesty at most of the camps.
"And organisers will feel frustration and betrayal by the school authorities for seeking a short-term solution instead of formulating a proper resolution in view of the amount of time (that has) gone into planning."
- See more at:

Friday, April 15, 2016

More parents abroad register babies as citizens 14 April 2016

More Singaporean parents living abroad are registering their children as citizens.

There were 1,600 children born overseas to at least one Singaporean parent who were registered as citizens last year. They made up 8 per cent of the 20,815 total citizenships registered last year.

This is up from the 1,200 such children registered on average each year from 2006 to 2010, and the 1,400 registered on average each year from 2011 to 2015.

 Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings. Reproduced with permission.Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings. 

The increase is a result of more Singaporeans living, working or studying overseas for extended periods, Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo said yesterday.

There are 210,000 such citizens now, a 30 per cent rise compared with 160,000 a decade ago. "This shows how Singaporeans are increasingly mobile and welcomed by employers and educational institutions internationally," she said during the debate on spending plans of the Prime Minister's Office.

Mrs Teo, who oversees population matters, said the Government has kept a "calibrated pace of immigration" to prevent the citizen population from shrinking.

Apart from the new citizenships granted last year, there were 29,955 others given permanent residency.

 Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings. Reproduced with permission.Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings. 

Mrs Teo said more should be done to help new citizens deepen their sense of belonging here. She suggested they get involved in all aspects of local life, including learning to speak local languages and taking an interest in issues that concern fellow Singaporeans. "Most important of all, they must understand our roots as a multiracial and multicultural society," she said.

Agreeing with MPs Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Rahayu Mahzam (Jurong GRC), she encouraged Singaporeans to remain open to people of diverse backgrounds.

Mrs Teo said immigration measures will not fully meet the country's growing workforce needs. But rather than grow the population more quickly through immigration, "we have decided to press on with the restructuring of our economy towards one that is less dependent on manpower for growth", she said.

As such, the growth of the foreign workforce has slowed considerably, she noted. The Government is also trying to equip Singaporeans with more skills so they can remain relevant through measures like SkillsFuture, she added.

 Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings. Reproduced with permission.Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings. 

"Our vision must be a Singapore that is cohesive and open, where Singaporeans feel a sense of connectedness wherever they are in the world... and at the same time, have the capacity to welcome new additions to our family whether for a period of time or for good."

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings. - See more at:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

askST: Why do we redraw electoral boundaries every time we have a general election?

Reader Lin Yulong wrote to askST: "Why do we redraw electoral boundaries every time we have general elections?"  - 30 March, ST, 2016
Deputy News Editor (Political) Zakir Hussain answers. 
Electoral boundaries have been redrawn at every general election (GE) for several reasons.
The boundaries are determined by a committee appointed by the Prime Minister, who sets out guidelines - or terms of reference - for them. While the committee puts out a report on these changes, it does not go into detailed explanations on how it came about these decisions. 
But observers have identified three key considerations behind boundary changes.
One major reason is population shifts as a result of new housing developments, such as new flats in Punggol and Yew Tee.
When the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee came up with new boundaries ahead of GE2015, it was asked to "take into consideration significant increases or decreases in the number of electors in the current electoral divisions as a result of population shifts and housing developments since the last boundary delineation exercise". 
This explains why a new GRC was formed in the north-west of Singapore - Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC - and why several areas of GRCs in the north-east were also redrawn. 
A second reason is to address the political requirements spelt out in the brief to the committee.
For example, the Government had, ahead of the previous two GEs, promised to reduce the average size of  group representation constituencies (GRCs) and have more single-member constituencies (SMCs). 
So ahead of GE2011 and GE2015, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong directed the committee to reduce the average number of MPs in a GRC and ensure at least 12 SMCs.
Underpinning both the above reasons is the need for the 2.4 million eligible voters in Singapore to - more or less - have equal say in electing their MP or team of MPs. 
For the 2015 boundary redrawing, the committee worked on the basis of a range of 20,000 to 37,000 voters per MP. It was also mindful that a GRC with fewer MPs should not have more voters than a GRC with more MPs.
Observers also point to political considerations in the way boundaries are shaped.
On one hand, opposition-held seats have tended to not have their boundaries redrawn to minimise allegations of unfair play. Thus in the latest exercise, Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC saw no changes to their boundaries. Even Potong Pasir, which had been in opposition hands for 27 years till GE2011, saw its boundaries left intact last year. 
But on the other hand, some constituencies that have seen close contests have been known to be redrawn. For instance, Joo Chiat SMC, which the PAP won by fewer than 400 votes in GE2011, was absorbed into Marine Parade GRC ahead of GE2015. 
But changes to constituency boundaries have affected fewer voters in recent electoral cycles.
Some of the more drastic boundary changes happened ahead of GE1988, GE1991 and GE1997 when three-member GRCs were introduced, followed by four-member GRCs and then five-and six-member GRCs in three consecutive elections.
Ahead of GE2011, some three in 10 voters found themselves in a new electoral division. At GE2015, only one in five voters were affected.