Wednesday 15 June 2016

Govt will protect all Singaporeans, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation: Shanmugam

Orlando Gay Nightclub Shooting

Government 'will protect all from threat of violence'
Violence against any group, in any form, is not acceptable, says Shanmugam
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 15 Jun 2016

The Government will protect its people against any threat of violence, regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

"Violence against any group, in any form, is not acceptable. Here, the Government will act decisively if there is threat of violence against anyone or any group," Mr Shanmugam said before the iftar (breaking of fast) at the Khadijah Mosque in Geylang yesterday.

"The Government's duty is to protect everyone - their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, that's not relevant."

His comments came in the wake of a massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida on Sunday, when gunman Omar Mateen mowed down 49 people and injured another 53, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Investigators are examining whether Omar was driven to violence as a deeply disturbed individual who was himself gay or because of extremist ideology. "But it looks like the gay community has been targeted. This is unacceptable," Mr Shanmugam told reporters.

The kind of threat posed by lone-wolf individuals who are inspired but not directed by known extremist groups is "a significant risk" for Singapore as well, he said, noting that the Government had arrested "people who have self-radicalised, had intended to go to the Istana open house and do violence" to the President and Prime Minister.

In another case of home-grown terrorism, six Bangladeshis were charged last month with financing terrorism after they were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for planning attacks back home.

Mr Shanmugam said education is key in inoculating the population against radicalisation but it is not foolproof. Communities also have to come together and families have to be on the lookout for suggestions or evidence of radicalisation, while security agencies stay on high alert.

Under the ISA, the Government can move in and arrest an individual who has been identified before he can do harm, he said.

But these measures do not guarantee that Singapore will not be attacked, as terrorists often blend into the community. "There are threats in a variety of forms. Thankfully, our population is a cross of many races, and we are not infected by extremism to any substantial degree," said Mr Shanmugam.

Yesterday, thousands of people in cities throughout the United States and Europe stood in solidarity to remember those who had died. In Singapore, some 700 people attended a candlelight vigil in Hong Lim Park.

Mr Shanmugam stressed the importance of the national SG Secure initiative in organising and training residents to guard against attacks, and maintain social harmony in the aftermath.The Muslim community has an important role in combating radical ideology as well, he said.

Said Dr Mohamed Ali, vice-chairman of the Religious Rehabilitation Group: "Religious and community leaders have a strong influence over the followers of their religion. They need to convey these messages to their communities, to reject extremism and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria)."

Singapore netizen Bryan Lim apologises over LGBT 'open fire' comment
By Kok Xing Hui and Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 15 Jun 2016

A man who asked for "permission to open fire" in a Facebook post on the page of a local group opposed to an annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rally has apologised "for the misunderstanding" and has taken down his Facebook page and original post.

In screenshots of his post, Facebook user Bryan Lim wrote: "I apologise for the misunderstanding. My words were strong. I did not mean anyone. I meant Bloomberg and foreign intervention in local matters.

"This was taken out of context. I hope this clears the air."

In a separate comment, he added: "I did not mean physical bullets nor physical death. I mean open fire in debate and remove them from Singapore domestic matters."

His original comment was made on June 4 on the We Are Against Pink Dot Facebook page in response to a post about foreign sponsorship of Pink Dot, the annual LGBT rally.

It read: "I am a Singaporean citizen. I am an NSman. I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation. Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes."

Mr Bryan Lim's employer, Canon Singapore, declined comment, saying the case was under police investigation. On Monday, Canon Singapore said it does not condone violence in any form.

Some netizens claimed Mr Lim was with the Singapore Police Force, after a picture of him wearing what appeared to be a police uniform was circulated online. A police spokesman clarified that he is not a police national serviceman.

Singaporeans from the LGBT community said Mr Lim's comments - whether taken out of context or not - was a reminder of their vulnerability as a marginalised group. They expressed concern after Sunday's mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, left 49 people dead and 53 injured.

"There has been a rise of fundamentalism in the region, even in Singapore, and it's a concern for us. I wouldn't rule out violence against the LGBT community here," said doctoral candidate Ching S. Sia, 33.

Mr Nicholas Lim, 36, founder of LGBT online community GLBT Voices Singapore, said: "I don't see this happening in the near future and firearms here are rare, but what if someone decides to take a knife and go out to a gay bar? I think people need to realise it's one thing to have strong personal beliefs and another to share thoughts of violence online."


Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric draws flak from US leaders
Obama denounces proposed ban on Muslim immigrants; Republican leaders refuse to endorse Trump's remarks
The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2016

WASHINGTON • President Barack Obama and other Democrats were joined by Republican leaders disconcerted by Mr Donald Trump in condemning his anti-Muslim rhetoric following the Orlando shooting.

In a rare public display of fury on Tuesday, Mr Obama denounced the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for peddling a "dangerous" mindset.

"We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complicit in violence," said Mr Obama, without mentioning Mr Trump by name.

"Where does this stop?" he said of Mr Trump's approach, noting the White House nominee had proposed a ban on admitting Muslims into the United States, and that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was a US citizen.

"Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith?" he asked.

"Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that's not the America we want... It won't make us more safe. It will make us less safe."

Speaking in Pittsburgh, Mrs Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump's Democratic rival, gave a blistering denunciation of her own, assailing his temperament, ridiculing his proposals and arguing that he had failed to meet the gravity of the moment.

"History will remember what we do in this moment," she told supporters, asking "responsible Republican leaders" to join her in condemning Mr Trump.

After the Orlando attack, she noted, he suggested Mr Obama sympathised with Islamist terrorists.

"Even in a time of divided politics, this is way beyond anything that should be said by someone running for president," said Mrs Clinton.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has refused to endorse Mr Trump, called his remarks about Mr Obama "absolutely over the top".

Unbowed by the criticism, Mr Trump accused Mr Obama of continuing "to prioritise our enemy over our allies and, for that matter, the American people".

Continuing in the same vein at a rally, he said: "I watched President Obama today, and he was more angry at me than he was at the shooter. The level of anger, that's the kind of anger he should have for the shooter and these killers who shouldn't be here."

While Mr Trump has so far voiced support for gun rights, he said in a Twitter post yesterday that he would be meeting the National Rifle Association about new restrictions to prevent people on a terrorism watch list from buying guns.

Mr Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric drew fire from some senior Republicans even as others sought to distance themselves from him.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the US' highest-ranking elected Republican, said on Tuesday that Mr Trump's proposed ban on Muslim immigrants was not in the country's interest, nor did it reflect his party's principles.

"There's a really important distinction that every American needs to keep in mind: This is a war with radical Islam. It's not a war with Islam," said Mr Ryan.

Senator Jeff Flake, who has been among the most outspoken in his party about withholding his endorsement of Mr Trump, said in a Twitter post that he was "appreciative" that Mr Ryan had spoken out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to talk about Mr Trump, an indication of the precarious position in which Mr Trump has placed Republican elected officials.



Orlando gay nightclub shooting: 50 dead in America's worst mass shooting
Zero tolerance for hate speech, says Shanmugam

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