In a recent interview, PM Lee was asked regarding the US-led coalition against ISIS. And this was what he had to say:
“We are happy that the Americans have taken a stand … This is a threat to people all over the world. How we can support the American-led effort? That’s something we can discuss. We have not reached a point of making a decision yet. Even how the Americans are going to pursue this and what they’re going to do, they haven’t quite decided yet.”
So the question is: should Singapore join the coalition?
There is a difference between join and support. To join the coalition means to provide whatever assistance needed to achieve the objective of the coalition and that is to degrade and ultimately eradicate ISIS. This may involve military and/or monetary assistance. To support the coalition on the other hand means to agree to the spirit and principle of the coalition without providing any material help.
In this regard, it is perhaps best for Singapore to just provide moral support for the coalition. Not only should we consider our relatively small size and geographical location, but most importantly the safety of the thousands of Singaporeans who are working in the Middle East who may be easy targets of revenge.
Instead, Singapore should harden our internal defences against the threat of ISIS and its macabre ideology from taking roots in Singapore. The quick action against the sale of ISIS flags and symbols is a step in the right direction. And the Malay/Muslim organisations in Singapore must take a more pro-active role to assuage fellow Singaporeans that ISIS’ brand of Islam is wrong.