Can ISA detention reform a radical 17-year-old?

The recent detention without trial of a 17-year-old boy shocks me. He has not even been enlisted into the army.

The Ministry of Home Affairs statement of 10 February 2020 claims that they had since 2017 tried to steer him clear of ISIS. But they (and here I presume some religious organisations would have been involved) have failed to “reform” him.

I am not sure if indefinite detention without trial will turn this person who under our law is still a child into a conformist like the majority of Singaporeans. If religious groups and his family are not able to “reform” him, can the Internal Security Department (ISD) succeed?

I have serious doubts about the capability of ISD to do so. Do they have experts in child psychology who can talk and reason with the child? Torturing him and terrifying him with indefinite imprisonment may even turn him into a real terrorist.

The incident brought to mind an article written by a writer of The Straits Times, Nur Dianah Suaimi in July 2010. In the article which must have been written shortly after the arrest of three young Muslims, the writer admitted that she was impressed by the preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki who America called a terrorist. She said she turned to listen to foreign preachers because the local preachers were boring. From her experience, she wondered if three young Muslims arrested also under the ISA were like her, bored by local preachers and had innocently turned to foreign preachers. Of the three young people arrested, she had this to say:

Had the men who recently caught the attention of ISD’s attention been content with their local preachers, chances are that they would not have searched for alternative sermons on YouTube.

Had I been satisfied with my religious classes, I would not have turned to Al- Awlaki audio CDs or the other foreign preachers that I now listen to.

The writer went on to encourage Muslim preachers to reach out to young Muslims who are an increasingly savvy and demanding group of worshippers and to follow what other religious bodies are doing to attract young followers.

I don’t know if Muslim preachers have taken her opinion seriously and things have changed in the past ten years.

But one thing I am certain is this. The use of the ISA to imprison and teach this 17-year-old kid a lesson is morally wrong. This law should not be used against people like him or for that matter, against any person who just refuses to behave like the majority of Singaporeans.


Teo Soh Lung




9 Responses to “Can ISA detention reform a radical 17-year-old?”


    Respectfully to the author,

    Could you kindly suggest your thoughts in writing as to how this matter should be handled?

    Thank you.

    GD Star Rating
  • Steven:

    @Not a PAP supported..yes, I too would love to read what ideas the writer have to contain this spread of IS ideology.

    I just would urge the writer not to have blinkered views due to her own experience

    GD Star Rating
  • REGIME CHANGE is the solution:

    If he cannot be reformed send him to Syria or Iran. No point wasting taxpayers money on him.

    GD Star Rating
  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Indoctrination starts at a young age…4-5 years…some will get over it as they grow up and see the world differently from what they were “told or taught”

    For starters…parents @ Homes and grown-up @ Mosques…should NOT be radical in their thought and conversation no matter how “Thoughtful” it is meant to be, not in the presence of their children least of all to say they should “THINK” likewise…

    children by nature will take that as “TRUTH” being taught to be respectful of their elders…children in Muslim homes show their respect to their parents even kissing the hands of their parents…

    Similarly, Christians should NOT say that there is only ONE way to Salvation

    Should each Home and Family start on the Right Note…there is NO NEED for ISD and the Shit that come with it!!!

    Salem!!! Shalom & Peace to all who love Peace and NOT Hate!!!

    GD Star Rating
  • Still Sleeping:

    You haven’t seen children here being handcuffed??

    GD Star Rating
  • justtryingtobefair:

    Respectfully, it is not the job of Ms. Teo to offer a solution. The government (PAP) has the full might of the civil service (and by extension the so-called smartest and brightest scholars) to come up with the solution. Ms. Teo’s job, as a civilian and citizen, is to critique the government when she thinks it has gone wrong.

    Respectfully to the author,

    Could you kindly suggest your thoughts in writing as to how this matter should be handled?

    Thank you.

    GD Star Rating
  • Roy Spread Fake News:

    Respectfully to the author,

    Could you kindly suggest your thoughts in writing as to how this matter should be handled?

    Thank you.

    Well said.

    Opposition only know how to criticize.

    As usual, Opposition had no solution except criticize only.

    We must guard against fake news spread by opposition party n supporters.

    Do not believe in Oxygen, Roy or other Yellow Banana aka Ang Mo Tua Kee aka Ang Mo Are Angel kind of post. They only know the English language.

    In contrast, people like me understand 4 language, English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Teochew.

    Learn to read news from different language and do not be a YELLOW BANANA.

    Don’t be like stupid Hong Kongers who are make use of by American CIA.

    Martin Lee Enjoys Dinner During Riot 13 October 2019

    The guy who block the camera is a pastor.

    The organization that fund the HK black shirt protesters, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is operated by US CIA.

    The yellow banana here could well be spy from NED to bring down Singapore and if not are stupid gullible people manipulated by NED.


    GD Star Rating
  • BillyMa:

    Ms Teo, I understand your standpoint comes from your own experience of such by the PAP.
    But this case is different.
    There’s a high chance that something bad can happen if he’s allow to put to action his belief.

    So please do compare apple to apple, it would be more convincing.

    GD Star Rating
  • Zhenzidan:

    ISA in this case is not their job to reform anybody but to deter and prevent. We understand the injustice you suffered as a result of ISA but there are times their application is essential esp with evidence of this teenager coming into contact with terrorist, and unlike your case which was never heard until your release, this time they reported it.

    GD Star Rating

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