Sunday 31 May 2015

Teen detained for planning to join ISIS had planned to kill President and PM Lee

Detained Singapore teen 'intended to kill President and PM'
Student planned to do so if he could not leave S'pore to join ISIS: PM Lee
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

THE 19-year-old student detained last month for planning to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group in Syria intended to kill President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong if he could not leave Singapore, Mr Lee has disclosed.

His comments, in a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday, come two days after the Ministry of Home Affairs said it had detained M. Arifil Azim Putra Norja'i and arrested an unnamed 17-year-old radicalised student for further investigations.

The ministry had said Arifil gave considerable thought as to how he would attack key facilities and assassinate government leaders, but did not go into details.

He also announced Singapore's deployment of a KC-135 tanker refuelling aircraft to the Middle East started yesterday, as part of Singapore's participation in the international coalition against ISIS.

In his speech, Mr Lee said terrorism was not an entirely new phenomenon, and various politically motivated terror groups have largely faded away.

But the current phase of terrorism will be around for a long time, and many societies are now finding home-grown terrorists and self-radicalised individuals who can mount attacks with minimal resources.

ISIS has exploited the Internet and social media and drawn over 20,000 foreign fighters from all over the world, who will pose a threat when they return.

ISIS supporters have carried out lone-wolf attacks in a number of countries and, two weeks ago, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi repeated a call for Muslims to migrate to the Islamic state or wage war in their home countries, Mr Lee added.

ISIS has also said it intends to establish a wilayat, or province under the caliphate, in South-east Asia, which has become a key recruitment centre for the group.

Over 500 Indonesians and dozens of Malaysians have joined ISIS, and its Malay Archipelago combat unit, Katibah Nusantara, has been active on social media.

Radical groups in the region have pledged their allegiance, including Jemaah Islamiah spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir who did so from jail. His followers in Singapore planned to set off truck bombs after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on America. Several hundred terrorists in jail in Indonesia are also due to be released in the next two years, Mr Lee said.

"The idea that ISIS can turn South-east Asia into a province of a worldwide Islamic caliphate controlled by ISIS - that is a grandiose, pie-in-the-sky dream.

"But it is not so far-fetched that ISIS could establish a base somewhere in the region, in a geographical area under its physical control like in Syria and Iraq, somewhere far from the centres of power of state governments, somewhere where government writs do not run," said Mr Lee.

"And there are quite a few such places in South-east Asia. If ISIS did that, it would pose a very serious threat to the whole of South-east Asia."

ISIS is a threat to all of us. Southeast Asia is a key ISIS recruitment centre. Even in Singapore, some have been led...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, May 29, 2015

PM Lee, on how Singapore has managed to achieve much in the last 50 years and what's next

We have benefited from a benign region from the American presence in Asia, from our own efforts, and the friendship of our neighbours...

Japan led the flying geese and we were one of the little goslings following behind. We are now not the gosling anymore. Neither are we a giant bird. We are a small bird, having to find our own way forward...

We are small, so we can do things a little bit faster. We have invested in our people. We are secure in our defences today.

We are in a strong position. The game has just begun. All I can say as the current coach is I have got a good team and from the team, we will produce future coaches and we will get there beyond the finish line in 50 years' time.

Adhere to law in sea dispute: PM Lee
By Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

SETTLING the South China Sea disputes on the basis of might is not a sustainable solution and the best route is for all to adhere to international law, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night, hinting that the issue risked souring the broader relationship between China and Asean states.

"In the long run, a stable regional order cannot be maintained by superior force, but also requires consent and legitimacy in the international community, together with the balance of power," he said, urging China to conclude a Code of Conduct with Asean "as soon as possible".

Mr Lee was delivering the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This year's summit brings together defence chiefs from 26 nations against a backdrop of rising tensions over the South China Sea.

While China agreed to a general declaration on the conduct of parties in the South China Sea in 2002, it has been slow to respond to Asean's urging for a legally binding Code of Conduct.

IISS chief executive and director-general John Chipman noted the defining characteristic of the region had become strategic unease.

The US, represented here by Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, has voiced its determination to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

Mr Lee said every state whose trade passes through the South China Sea, or whose ships and aircraft use it, has an interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and over- flight. That includes Singapore, for whom the South China Sea is a "vital lifeline".

In his 45-minute speech, Mr Lee said all of Asia wanted positive ties between the US and China, and did not want to take sides.

While it was heartening that both say the Pacific Ocean is "vast enough" for them to participate and compete peacefully, it should not mean that they carve up the Pacific between themselves.

"To divide up the Pacific Ocean between the two, each with its own sphere of influence, would circumscribe options for other countries, increasing the risk of rivalry and conflict between two power blocs," he said.

Others too played a role, he added, saying it was past time for Japan and its neighbours to put World War II behind them properly like the Europeans had, and display statesmanship and largeness of spirit on all sides.

Noting that the Asian strategic balance was shifting, Mr Lee said China's interdependence with the external world had grown. Moves such as the setting up of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) were ways for China to participate constructively in the international order. This is why Singapore gave it early support.

Likewise, the US too is adding substance to its rebalancing towards Asia with major initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "Speaking as an Asian country and a participant in both, Singapore hopes that, eventually, China will join the TPP, and the US and Japan will join the AIIB," Mr Lee said.

China would like to grow without having to worry about conflict: PM Lee
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

CHINA wants to deal with its domestic issues and reforms without having to worry about problems with the rest of the world, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the Shangri-La Dialogue last night.

He made this point in reply to a question from South Korean academic Chung Min Lee, who asked Mr Lee how he foresaw China's rise militarily and how he proposed managing it.

Mr Lee said, in his view, China is not out to seek conflict and that it is focused on development. But its development "is not as effortless as it appears to outsiders". "What we see as inevitable, they see as requiring tremendous effort," he added.

The Chinese leadership is now in the midst of ambitious and thorough economic and social reforms, as well as a high-profile anti-corruption campaign, he said. "China has many internal issues which it is preoccupied with. It knows it has to work on these in order to continue to prosper, and it would like to do this without having to worry about problems with the rest of the world."

Mr Lee said all Asean countries want a good relationship with China, notwithstanding disputes in the South China Sea. "That's a big plus factor which makes this problem tractable, and I think that will continue," he said.

He was asked by a Chinese colonel about founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's view that the United States had to choose whether to engage or isolate China. He replied that every administration since that of Richard Nixon had chosen engagement.

As a small country friendly with both powers, Singapore's "role as a bridge is a very modest one". It wants only to help the US and China be better friends with each other, he said.

Singapore, Germany to cooperate against terror
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

MILITARY action is not the only way to thwart activities of extremist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has said.

There are ways to counter their influence and the impact of their radicalisation by working with community and religious leaders as well as civilian organisations.

Noting that the fight against radical groups will be a "significant challenge", he said yesterday that Singapore will "need the community on our side for this".

ISIS and other militants pose a "clear and present" threat, and it is difficult to ward off lone-wolf attacks.

The effect of the extremists' actions will harm not only civilians and innocent bystanders, but also the social fabric here, he said after talks with his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen, who is here for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue.

Describing Singapore as a "key partner" for Germany, Dr von der Leyen said both sides have agreed to expand cooperation and training exercises. Singapore's armour troops have trained in Germany since 2009.

One new focus for Singapore and Germany is the sharing of information on how to analyse the patterns behind the phenomenon of foreign fighters and what turns young people into such fighters.

Noting that one in 10 foreign fighters in ISIS is German, Dr von der Leyen said there is a risk of them returning and becoming "potential terrorists in our home countries".

Yesterday, Dr Ng also met his US counterpart Ashton Carter. Both noted the 10th anniversary of the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, which recognises Singapore as a "major security cooperation partner" of the United States, and stated their commitment to strengthening bilateral defence cooperation further.

Defence Secretary Carter also met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Others who met Dr Ng yesterday included Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and China's People's Liberation Army Deputy Chief of General Staff, Admiral Sun Jianguo.

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