Social media accounts of President Halimah, PM Lee and others spammed by supporters of banned Indonesian preacher, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper
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Social media accounts of President Halimah, PM Lee and others spammed by supporters of banned Indonesian preacher

The social media accounts of President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, along with those of several political office-holders and government agencies, have been spammed with comments from supporters of Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara, who was denied entry to Singapore on Monday (May 16) due to a history of extremist teachings.

A check by The Straits Times found comments bearing the hashtags #SaveUAS and #SaveUstadzAbdulSomad on Instagram posts by President Halimah and PM Lee.

Other accounts targeted include PM Lee's Twitter page, Instagram accounts of Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, the Singapore Government's and Ministry of Law's Twitter pages, as well as the Instagram pages of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore Tourism Board and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

In response to media queries, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) confirmed on Wednesday that the social media accounts of a number of political office-holders and government agencies were spammed.

MCI's spokesman noted that there were also calls for cyber-attacks against Singapore Government social media accounts on public Indonesian chat groups.

The ministry said two events management companies had their websites defaced. The websites have been recovered and the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCert) will contact the companies to extend help, it added.

"Organisations are advised to take active steps to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, heighten vigilance, and bolster their online defences to protect their organisation against possible cyber-attacks, such as web defacement and distributed denial of service (DDoS)," MCI said.

The ministry urged Singapore organisations that are affected by a cyber-attack or have evidence that their networks are compromised to report to SingCert.

A report can be made at https://go.gov.sg/singcert-incident-reporting-form.

On Tuesday, the Home Affairs Ministry (MHA) said Somad and his companions were denied entry into Singapore because the Indonesian preacher has a history of extremist teachings that are not acceptable in Singapore.

The group of seven had arrived at Singapore's Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on Monday from Batam. After Somad was interviewed, the group were barred from entering the Republic and placed on a ferry back to Batam on the same day.

MHA's spokesman said Somad has been known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society. She added that Somad, in the past, had preached that suicide bombings are legitimate in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and are considered "martyrdom" operations.

He has also made comments denigrating members of other faiths, such as Christians, by describing the Christian crucifix as the dwelling place of an "infidel jinn (spirit/demon)", and has also publicly referred to non-Muslims as kafirs or infidels.

A visitor's entry into Singapore is neither automatic nor a right, the MHA spokesman said.

"Each case is assessed on its own merits. While Somad had attempted to enter Singapore ostensibly for a social visit, the Singapore Government takes a serious view of any persons who advocate violence and/or espouse extremist and segregationist teachings," she said.

Although he is one of Indonesia's most widely followed preachers on the Internet, Somad has also been criticised by Indonesians, including mainstream Muslim leaders, for comments he has made denigrating other faiths.

After Singapore refused him entry, Indonesian media reports said he had been denied entry to Hong Kong, Timor Leste, and several European countries in the past.

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