Law Minister K Shanmugam made the speech on Wednesday. Photo courtesy: Screengrab from YouTube

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam has urged Singaporeans to remain alert and report any suspicious behaviour, just days after Malaysia made a series of arrests to thwart possible threats against the country’s government. As reports linked the arrested individuals’ backgrounds with extremist ideologies, Shanmugam told reporters on June 28 that violent ISIS ideology continues to resonate in the region.

Law Minister K Shanmugam. Photo courtesy: Screengrab from YouTube

“ISIS’ violent ideology continues to resonate in this region, and is fuelled by a virtual network of supporters,” Shanmugam told reports, as quoted by Straits Times.

Malaysia made the arrests on June 24, during which right people, six men and two women, were nabbed. The arrested individuals are aged between 25 and 70.

As per reports, the suspects belong to disparate economic and occupational backgrounds, and comprised retirees, professionals and housewives.

“Extremist narratives have radicalised many individuals, including here in Singapore. As long as these ideologies persist, they will continue to inspire attacks,” the Singaporean Law Minister said.

Quizzed if his assessment of Singapore’s terror threat has changed after the recent development in Malaysia, the lawmaker said the country’s Internal Security Department (ISD) makes regular assessments. He said the arrests didn’t come “as a big shock”.

“If you look around the region, ISIS ideology is prevalent in many countries, and this must be seen in that context,” he added.

However, the Home Affairs Minister accepted that developments in Malaysia will impact Singapore’s security landscape, due to the proximity shared by the neighbours.

Shanmugam also spoke about Singapore’s experience with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). The city-state had thwarted plots by the radicals to carry out terror attacks in the country, he said.

After Singapore arrested JI members in December 2001, others congregated in Malaysia to hatch plans of retaliatory attacks against the nation.

The minister also stated two ways in which Singapore can ensure its security while expanding connectivity with Malaysia. The neighbours are currently awaiting the opening of the Rapid Transit System Link. The 4 kilometres railway shuttle link will connect Singapore with Johor, and is scheduled to begin operating by the end of 2026.

As per Shanmugam, one of the ways is through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s checks at the borders. “People have to understand this is a matter of security and is serious,” he said, urging people to acknowledge the fact that it might add to the travel time.

The other is by having the ISD and the Malaysian Special Branch work in tandem and share intelligence.

Reiterating the country’s zero-tolerance towards terrorist threats, Shanmugam told reporters, “We move in very early. We don’t wait for the threat to materialise, or (be) about to materialise, and we don’t take chances.”