Photo of K Shanmugam from Straits Times

Speaking in response to US’s latest ban of seven Middle-East countries, Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam claimed that his government does not do theatrics (wayang in local term) and always do what is good for society as a whole:

“Good governance in our case requires us to eschew theatrics, and do what is good for society as a whole.”

The seven Middle-East countries which are brewing anti-American sentiments and themselves politically volatile, are banned by US President Trump are Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Libya last week.

Minister K Shanmugam was quick to lump all western countries with the United States, claiming that these democratic countries have turned xenophobic and racist:

“We should not assume that Singapore would be immune from this wave of populism that is sweeping the West, which has let loose xenophobic tendencies, racism, and tribalism. Mr Trump’s refugee ban and temporary block of citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the US has validated the feelings of a significant section of the US president’s voters. These anti-Islam sentiments have swept across the Western world. It is fuelling growing support for the far right in France, the Netherlands and Germany.”

Law Minister K Shanmugam also claimed that Singapore’s neighbours are also seeing a rise in religious extremism:

“Recent demonstrations in Indonesia along religious lines, and the Mufti of Pahang in neighbouring Malaysia who branded those opposing Islamic laws as infidels. If these trends continue in the region, and if racial and religious rhetoric increases, that can impact Singapore quite severely.”

The Minister also claimed that Singapore treats all races equally but failed to note that there are religious discrimination in the country’s defence force, where Muslims are not allowed to join certain sections of the Air Force and Navy deemed “sensitive” for Muslims.