Last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs revealed that it has detained without trial a law professional, Abdul Basheer s/o Abdul Kader, on suspicion of terrorist activities since February 2007.
I met Abdul Basheer once about three years ago, when I was introduced to him by a mutual friend. He struck me as a passionate person with an interest for softer issues in society. He also had strong views on some matters, and was someone who knew what he wanted out of his career in law.
In fact, during law school, Abdul Basheer wrote a paper, "The Status of Refugee Children in Human Rights Law – New Bearings for a Common Destination", which was supervised by the current Nominated Member of Parliament Thio Li-Ann.
But, according to my friend, Abdul Basheer "changed radically two years ago", and what has happened to him now comes as no surprise to my friend. My friend did not elaborate.
As such, I am taking a more than casual interest in this case. At this juncture for me, this case raises more questions than provides answers, since very little has been said about such issues:
1. Why did it take the Ministry of Home Affairs some 4 months since the detention of Abdul Basheer to publicly disclose such information about him?
2. The Ministry of Home Affairs has made various statements concerning the activities of Abdul Basheer. In summary, he had accessed various questionable material on the internet, wanted to learn Arabic and had even bought a ticket to Pakistan. Are these adequate and reasonable grounds to detain a person without trial or did the Ministry of Home Affairs act on pure suspicion?
3. Perhaps, what is different in this situation is that according to the Ministryof Home Affairs is that he had "militant jihad plans" and wanted "to make contact with a militant group - the Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) - that could help him train for 'militant jihad' and to cross over into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban". But then what is the evidence that the internal security team gathered against Abdul Basheer, which conclusively show that he had the motive "to wage 'militant jihad' in a land where Muslims were under attack"? Or is the Ministry of Home Affairs going behind the protective veil of the Internal Security Act so that it has no compelling need to reveal the body of evidence, which prompted authorities to act against Abdul Basheer?
4. Several persons have been quick to blame the new media for Abdul Basheer's plight. Was this the pivotal factor or could there have been other more compelling reasons? What really prompted a promising spark of Singapore's ethnic minority community to focus on such causes?
5. How are his loved ones reacting to this arrest? Do they welcome the arrest as a necessary move or are protesting the perceived unilateral move made by the Ministry of Home Affairs?
6. How is Abdul Basheer being dealt with in detention?
These are questions that I hope others are asking too.
Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?