The Flood of Nonsense Excuses

This is getting more and more absurd. Perhaps retailers like Wendy’s can take a class action suit against PUB for compensation from the damages caused by the floods. Freak floods happen but 3 times in 2 months is a bit too much, particularly if Orchard Road is affected. If the floods cannot be kept out of a main tourist attraction in Singapore despite remedies in place since the first flooding in June, it wraps up PUB’s ability to deal with flooding in Singapore. There has been a perfect track record of no serious flooding since the 1980s, but maybe the system was not stressed enough. Or maybe the system was robust then but the current drainage is inadequate for whatever reason e.g. it is more urbanised and more surface flow into the drains when more water seeped underground before? The latest excuse this time is that the recent typhoon Conson in Asia caused abnormally intense rains which rolled into Singapore. This is Asia, and typhoons happen all the time and PUB should come up with a better excuse.

Flash floods stain Singapore’s urban paradise reputation
Posted July 18, 2010 21:25:00

Singaporeans were salvaging cars, soaked belongings and damaged goods on Sunday after a third flash flood in two months submerged low-lying areas of the city-state.

Shops and houses along posh Orchard Road were again hit by floods on Saturday after heavy rain overwhelmed the drainage system of the wealthy metropolis, which is often lauded for its excellent urban management.

The flooding took place just before parliament was to debate the issue on Monday following public clamour for explanations for earlier floods, which are normally associated with neighbouring capitals like Manila and Jakarta.

Residents in affected houses hauled out sodden furniture and opened windows and doors on Sunday after muddy water from overflowing canals receded.

“We never had floods like that,” said Peter Wong, 49, a long-time resident in a row of houses in eastern Singapore invaded by calf-high floodwaters on Saturday.

“Everything was gone, the carpets as you can see are damaged, the bottom of all the sofa seats are still soaking wet now, after 24 hours. We had to replace a new fridge, the fridge is totally damaged,” Mr Wong said.

“I’m trying to keep a cool head over this but it is frustrating. My life is disrupted,” added the hotelier, who failed to take out insurance against “acts of God” like floods.

The Straits Times said some restaurants lost live fish stored in tanks.

A major highway was also closed for two and a half hours, while motorists and commuters had to be rescued from stranded vehicles, but there were no reports of major injuries.

Saturday’s flash floods were the third since June 16.

Flash floods were a rare occurrence in Singapore until recently, with a climate expert interviewed by the Straits Times attributing the problem to regional weather phenomena such as Typhoon Conson and Indonesian squalls.

Critics had blasted the Public Utilities Board for not being prepared to handle the first two floods, while the department defending itself by saying abnormal weather conditions and clogged drains were to blame.

The flooding issue has become so serious that the Singapore parliament is scheduled to address the problem when it convenes on Monday amid forecasts of more rain.


Another ISA Detention for Jihadi Aspirations

Another so-called self-radicalised local gets jihad ideas from the Internet and this time from Anwar Al-Awlaki, the jihadi preacher hunted by the US. Google Anwar’s name and we find out that he is the author of “44 Ways to Support Jihad” and that the UK is also worried about him and his insidious lectures in Youtube, for one.  With the Internet, Anwar as a shady Muslim preacher can really touch someone in a wrong way despite being so far away from Singapore.

This is not the first self-radicalisation case where a local guy was convinced to pack up and go fight abroad. A Singapore lawyer was just released from detention under the ISA, suggesting the the ISA is not detention forever, and he was also influenced in the Internet to go to Pakistan and eventually join the Taliban. I had my doubts about that case with its hints of jihad grooming in the Internet but it does look like a pattern is forming here just like in the West.

The disturbing fact is that some Singaporeans can be influenced by the Internet to dabble in terrorism, besides using the web for entertainment and education. Would the government politicise this whole story into an evils of the Internet one? I presume and hope not as many would realise that the Internet is just a tool not a threat in itself.

Also, hopefully the Muslim community would not fall over forwards in its attempts to let people know that such Muslims swayed into jihad aspirations are a miniority and do not represent Islam – we already know that, and the continued assurances are welcomed anyway as you are not letting the militants hijack the religion and speak for Islam.

The virus that is Al Awlaki
Self-radicalised Singaporean detained, two others on Restriction Orders
05:55 AM Jul 07, 2010 Today
by Teo Xuanwei

SINGAPORE – He was just a teenager pursuing a diploma at a local polytechnic, when he started listening to lectures of radical ideologues online. Soon, Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid was avidly surfing the Internet in search of jihadist propaganda and videos.

Before long he became convinced that it was his religious duty to undertake armed jihad and strive for martyrdom. Fadil made contact online with a radical preacher, expressing his desire to fight in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. He even made contact online with a suspected Al Qaeda recruiter who encouraged him to fight in Afghanistan.

To prepare for militant jihad, Fadil went online to search for information on bomb-making and even posted a video glorifying martyrdom and justifying suicide bombing.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that Fadil was among three Singaporeans who have been dealt with under the Internal Security Act (ISA). The 20-year-old full-time National Serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) – believed to be the youngest to be held under the ISA – was detained for two years starting from April 4.

MHA’s statement said two others, Muhammad Anwar Jailani, 44, and Muhammad Thahir Shaik Dawood, 27, were placed on Restriction Orders for two years, starting June 23.

What linked the three men were their leanings towards the teachings of the radical Al Qaeda-linked preacher Anwar Al Awlaki, who is said to be connected to two of the 9/11 attackers.

Fadil was exposed to Al Awlaki when he was “avidly” searching for jihadist propaganda and videos online.

Thahir, meanwhile, learned about Al Awlaki through CDs containing recordings of his lectures which he had received from Jailani, an unaccredited religious teacher.

Jailani – whose application for accreditation under the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore’s Asatizah (religious teachers) Recognition Scheme was rejected last year because he lacked formal religious qualifications – had given out “numerous” such CDs to his students, contacts and the public.

Influenced by Al Awlaki’s message, Fadil and Thahir became “deeply radicalised” and wanted to undertake armed jihad overseas.

Fadil became convinced that striving for martyrdom was his religious duty and told Al Awlaki he wanted to fight alongside him. Fadil “did not undertake nor did he have any plans to undertake jihadi-related activities in Singapore”, said a MHA spokesman.

In response to media queries, a Ministry of Defence (Mindef) spokeswoman said Fadil, who enlisted last September, was undergoing section leader training in Pasir Laba Camp when he was arrested.

“Investigations have shown that this case involves an individual who took the wrong path,” she said.

“At the national level, there are appropriate security processes and systems to monitor and guard against potential security threats. Mindef/SAF is part of this national system, and will continue to maintain a high degree of vigilance against any potential threats that may surface.”

Thahir, who runs a small business, had travelled to Yemen and enrolled in an educational institution run by an associate of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Like Fadil, he had tried contacting Al Awlaki and other radicals.

However, he was unsuccessful and began to have doubts about undertaking armed jihad and came round to the view that there were other ways of doing jihad like pursuing knowledge and performing good deeds, said MHA.

After he withdrew from the Yemeni educational institution and returned home, he was investigated by the Internal Security Department.

Security experts told MediaCorp the latest arrests showed that the Internet is widening the reach of terrorist leaders. S Rajaratnam School of International Studies research analyst Nur Azlin Mohd Yasin said: “Online radicalisation is getting easier because the Internet offers interactivity in the form of forums and chatrooms. When people with similar views communicate with each other, it can potentially aggravate the angst they’re already feeling.”

Ustaz Firdaus Yahya, from the Darul Hufazz Quranic Centre, said: “It’s very sad there are still people who are misguided about how to show their love for Islam. They should increase their knowledge of what Islam really is, instead of listening to the teachings of bogus scholars who preach violence.”

Agreeing, Mr Muhd Faiz, president of Darul Arqam or the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore, said: “The Muslim community must rally together to self-police the propagation of such radical ideas.” One way, he said, was to ensure better access to qualified religious teachers. The Muslim community should also watch out for tell-tale signs of radicalisation.

Meanwhile, a Jemaah Islamiyah member, Ibrahim Mohd Noor, was released on June 1, MHA said.