Saturday, 7 February 2015

[Straits Times] Security must take priority over idealism

I READ with concern Mr Ho Kwon Ping's recommendations on some amendments to the Internal Security Act (ISA) and on caning ("Ex-ISA detainee sees need for Act but urges changes"; yesterday).

The Government and Singaporeans must be careful about idealistic recommendations that may sound good and reasonable, but will have long-term, adverse consequences for our national security.

The world is being steadily challenged in many security areas because of the following:

  • The world is becoming smaller as globalisation and all kinds of people travel easily across nations.

  • The prevalence of information, including on mass violence and harm, through the Internet.

  • The rise of extreme terrorism and violent acts.

The ISA is still the most efficient and effective way to arrest people bent on mass violence before they carry out their acts.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore was able to quickly resolve the gangster and drug problems with caning.

Hardcore criminals are not afraid of going to jail, where they get free food and lodging.

But the pain from caning is a big deterrent. We need to be careful about removing this.

Why have Singapore's drug and chewing gum problems been effectively addressed in the past 50 years?

It could be that the harsh penalties are announced on all flights to Singapore.

Singapore is a very exposed city-state with a huge influx of people, some with questionable backgrounds and whose views on law and order and human lives differ from ours.

I am proud of our unique, effective security measures in this increasingly lawless and vulnerable world.

As the world gets smaller, maintaining these measures will be even more important in safeguarding our people's well-being.

Chua Soon Hock