Shanmugam: 'Wrong to vet Muslim job seekers differently'
Law and Home Affairs Minister says no vetting process could have detected radicalised cop's views
Employers should not treat Muslim job seekers differently in the wake of the recent arrests of radicalised Singaporeans, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.
He told reporters: "I think it would be wrong to suggest that employers start vetting Muslim candidates in a different way.
"That will have the very opposite effect of what you want."
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday announced that Aetos auxiliary police officer Muhammad Khairul Mohamed had been detained under the Internal Security Act for his intention to undertake armed violence in Syria.
Last week, MHA said infant care assistant Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, was the first Singaporean woman to be detained for radicalism.
Mr Shanmugam said no vetting process could have detected Khairul's radical beliefs when he signed on as an auxiliary police officer in 2015.
MHA said Khairul's radicalisation started in 2012 after he researched the conflict in Syria.
"I'm not sure that any vetting process would have picked it up at the time the officer joined in 2015. There were no obvious signs, and it would have been difficult to pick it up," Mr Shanmugam said.
An Aetos spokesman told The New Paper that its officers have to pass "stringent selection criteria", and all candidates are interviewed to ensure they have the right attitude and temperament.
"However, we recognise that it is neither always easy nor possible to detect signs of radicalisation in every case," added the spokesman.
Dr Mohamed Ali, vice-president of the Religious Rehabilitation Group, told TNP: "The Government is right to point out that there is no link between terrorist activities and Islam, and there is no place for prejudice against Muslims here.
"We are a harmonious country, and I support the zero tolerance for both terrorism and anti-Muslim sentiments."
Dr Mohamed, an assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said anti-Muslim sentiments can also be dangerous, citing Monday's Finsbury Park attack in London where a 47-year-old man drove a van into a group of worshippers near a mosque.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said in a statement: "Importantly, we need to stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters.
"These latest arrests painfully put the entire Malay-Muslim community under the spotlight through no fault of theirs."
Ustaz Tarmizi Abdul Wahid from the Safinah Institute, a centre for Islam learning, said no one is immune to the pervasiveness of extremist propaganda.
"We must always be alert because the way people get radicalised can come in many forms and it can happen to anyone," he added.