On nationalism and ISIS (Singapore Summit 2014)

On nationalism and ISIS (Singapore Summit 2014)


Well, it is a very connected world. So things which happened far away can have a very quick impact on us. If you worry about all of the things, you will not get to sleep at night. But you have to think about them before you go to bed.
[Laughter] So I would say I think of two things before I go to bed. One is what you described as rising nationalism in Asia and you can see it in many countries, in China, in Japan, in Southeast Asia and some other countries. You can see in territorial disputes; you can see it in the tone which is taken in the national debates and in an exaggerated and often very harsh and nasty way in the internet discourse. And I worry about it because we have enjoyed more than half a century basically of peace and stability in the whole of the Asia-Pacific region. And people say it is the Asia Pacific Century but to make that happen, you have to continue to have peace and stability and you need good relations between the major powers and there must be space for the small powers like Singapore to survive and to make to a living for ourselves in a predictable and secure world and nationalism can upset that. So that is one thing which I worry about. The other thing we have to pay attention to is ISIS. It is not a problem with a Poke solution but it is a problem because it is not just in the Middle East, but people all over the world are drawn in to it. Some online, some by personal contacts and you find fighters there who are from America, from Europe, from Southeast Asia, the Malaysians have people there, the Indonesians have people there. There is just a report today that there was a Malaysian woman, doctor, 26 years old, who went there in order to marry an ISIS fighter. And she is completely au fait with social media, she blogs about the cause and there is a picture of her, completely covered up. What is it which has possessed people to go and want to do such things in a faraway land? There have been Singaporeans who have done that. So if they destroy their own lives, that is one thing. They come back and they bring back trouble to our societies, that is more difficulty. So we have to worry about that.

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