Terrorists have killed one of our own

I am very saddened to learn that 28-year old Singaporean lawyer Lo Hwei Yen has been killed by terrorists who attacked the Indian city of Mumbai. This is the first Singaporean in recent memory who has been killed by terrorists – probably since the MacDonald House bombing in March 1965.

After reading about repeated terror attacks in Iraq, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, it is easy to numb your mind to all these senseless deaths. That is, until a fellow Singaporean falls victim to these evil doers.

I don’t know Ms Lo personally, but she is just a year younger than my wife. She was a lawyer and obviously a promising one, to be sent on overseas assignments alone at such a young age. In short, she was one of our nation’s best and brightest. I understand that she was recently married. I cannot imagine the pain her husband and family must be going through. May God grant them strength to persevere through this difficult time.

I utterly condemn these terror attacks. Over 140 people have been killed, many of them machine gunned down while in their hotels or places of worship. To me, that is even more unconscionable than exploding a bomb. How does one’s conscience get seared to the extent of squeezing the trigger, emptying out magazine after magazine and gunning down defenceless civilians? This all proves that the evil in humans knows no bounds.

May these terrorists face the full wrath of justice, whether in this life or the next.

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

22 thoughts on “Terrorists have killed one of our own”

  1. My sincere condolences to all the famalies of the innocent victims.

    There are many questions and underlying causes for this event that is occurring in India.

    Demonizing and name calling will not solve the problems.

    a muslim

  2. Regardless of the “underlying causes” — and I know there are many — such indiscriminate killing of civilians can never be justified. I’m sure you agree. If you don’t, I’ll be really concerned.

    It is not my standard practice to demonize and call people names, but I feel it is an entirely appropriate label for these terrorists.

    Btw, I never mentioned anything about Muslims. Why are you signing off as such? Please, let’s leave such tribalism aside.

  3. I gree with you on indiscriminate killings. As for terrorists, it is ones perception. Those terrorists might say they are soldiers like any other army eventhough there are diferences in tactics.

    I signed off as Muslim because I am one and I love my religion. This has nothing to do with Islam though acted on by muslims(presumely). The underlying causes might be social economics or internal political situations or something completely different.

    I don’t condone these acts whether done by terrorists or wars started by armies with false pretences.

    Leave the tribalism is correct.

    Deepest sympaty.

  4. Ms Lo was killed because the Government made a public statement against the Mumbai terrorists. And for interfering with an Indian matter, they want to teach us a lesson. Singaporeans are now more at risk when they travel.

  5. cynic – You have brought up the terrorist vs freedom fighter argument. I draw the line on killing unarmed civilians in the course of conflict, for which I see no justification, whether one is avenging one’s family/co-religionists, or one is a soldier committing war crimes.

    You have a right to love your religion and profess it. But by signing off as such here, I infer you are saying we should not blame Muslims for this act of terror and you are standing up on behalf of fellow Muslims (but not necessarily the terrorists).

    Personally I do not blame Muslims as a whole for this. I blame certain people who claim to be Muslim for using religion for their own (presumably unIslamic) political ends.

    However to say “this has nothing to do with Islam” is politically correct, but factually wrong. It is a complex web of power, politics, poverty, tribalism and religion. To exclude one of those factors simply because it is politically inconvenient is not the way to solve this difficult problem of our times. In the same vein, the blame only religion is too myopic.

    Chui – The Singapore Govt, as a matter of policy, usually condemns acts of terror unless there are clear political reasons not to. This demonstrates our solidarity with other nations in the fight, and emphasizes that we will not be soft on terror, whether committed at home or abroad. By staying silent, it does not make us safe, only cowardly.

    In this particular case, the terrorists told Ms Lo to convey a message to the Indian security forces, through the Singapore govt, not to storm the Oberoi Hotel. According to MFA, this message was passed on to senior officials in India, as well as to the Indian High Commission in Singapore. It is not known whether the Singapore govt urged Indian officials not to storm the building in order to protect Ms Lo, but I doubt they did. In any case, the Indians would not be concerned with what Singapore is telling them to do in this crisis situation.

  6. It is easy for officers and others sitting in the comfort of their office or home to be brave and not cowardly. Would you do the same if your loved ones lives are at stake?? I am not a supporter of terrorism but sometimes there is no need to sound brave and risk the lives other than your own.

  7. I am saddened by her unfortunate demise too. My condolences to her family.

    While the timing of her death is not clear and the sequence of events is still hazy, it is obvious from the various press reports that the commandos did not carried out their counter attack on the terrorists at ALL locations simultaneously.

    When I heard that the commandos only stormed some locations, I feared for the lives of the hostages at the other locations. From the way how this attacked was coordinated, it is not inconceivable that the terrorists not attacked will be informed of the commandos operation. It is in the terrorists’ playbook to start executing hostages as a revenge for their fellow terrorists killed by the commandos’ action.

    I wonder how many hostages were executed as a result of their failure to mount a single coordinated rescue operations at all hostage locations. The truth will never be known.

  8. Chui – Yes you’re right abt armchair bravery. I think nations always claim to “never negotiate with terrorists” or give in to their demands. There’s good reason for this principle, because you give in once and terrorists will be emboldened. But when the lives of their own nationals are at stake, the issue becomes a lot more complicated. Perhaps not so for Singapore govt, since there’s no such thing as “domestic pressure”. But we’ve seen in how “tough” countries like South Korea and even Israel have acceded to terrorists demands just to get their nationals home safely.

    I’m not sure if Singapore has a stand to deal with these grey areas.

  9. We need to portray an image of strength, so that future attempts to harm our citizens will be met with extreme prejudice.

    This signal must be made clear. Very clear.

  10. When I read cynic’s comments, I felt that he was being a little too fast in judging Gerald Giam’s post. Nowhere did Gerald make any inference about Islam being associated with terror in his main post.

    However, upon reading Gerald’s reply to cynic, I do see a bias in Giam’s attitude against the Muslims in general.

    Giam wrote: “However to say “this has nothing to do with Islam” is politically correct, but factually wrong. It is a complex web of power, politics, poverty, tribalism and religion. To exclude one of those factors simply because it is politically inconvenient is not the way to solve this difficult problem of our times. In the same vein, the blame only religion is too myopic.”

    This kind of stereotyping Muslims and Islam does not augur well for the cohesion of Singaporeans, especially in times when one of our fellow citizens has just fallen under the hands of terrorists.

    In making the claim above, Giam has compartmentalised in his mind that Muslims have a tendency to be terrorists, because Islam has inherent faults in its teachings, such that it can lead Muslims to become terrorists.

    Maybe I judged cynic too fast. Maybe cynic has had some earlier exchanges with Giam that caused him to believe that Giam somehow bears an inherent grudge against Muslims and Islam.

    Terror is terror. If killing innocents in Mumbai is terror, so is killing innocents in Iraq. So if these terrorists who kill innocents are Muslims, they’re called Muslim terrorists. That being the case, the Americans, who are non-Muslims, who kill innocent Iraqis at weddings, funerals, in schools, hospitals, are then non-Muslim terrorists?

    Please be sensitive to our Muslim brothers and sisters. They have done nothing to harm you.

  11. “Hiroshima and Nagasaki, terrorism or not?”
    No – Why?
    1.US and Japan were officially at war
    2.Japan was forewarn of total destruction before the first drop on Hiroshima
    3.Hiroshima is one of the major arms manufacturing cities
    4.Japan refused to surrender after Hiro and that’s why Nagasaki
    5.When war is declared, terrorism takes over – you don’t win a war without terrorism.
    Very unfortunate, but that’s the way it’ll always be.

    These days, terrorism ought to refer to the cowardly actions of bandits killing civilians indiscriminately for self gratifications without proper declaration of war and definitions of its boundary.

    These people are evildoers in every sense of the word because they commited the ultimate sin hiding behind the facade of goodness and righteousness, and worst of all, divine guidance.
    I think for any hunman being to believe that God needed any assistance at all especially in ending lives is by itself madness or blesphemous because it insults God’s ability. Regardless of the religion.

  12. Mr. Giam: I don’t understand why you’d be numbed by any senseless death and why it takes a Singaporean death for you to realise the gravity of these slayings. Is Singapore such a closely knit country that such camaraderie is prevalent in its society?

    I recall stories during the SARS epidemic of Singaporeans behaving extremely ungraciously, and find it hard to believe that the death of one Singaporean (as opposed to the numerous death of other nationalities) would cause such ripples to be felt through the country.

    Regardless, while I find your sympathy rightly deserved, I think the title of your blog entry just sounds plain parochial. Does something as inconsequential as national boundaries–perhaps buoyed by the platitudes churned out by the local newspapers–get in your way of feeling sorrow for others?

    Anon: Please recheck your definition of terrorism, because that’s not what it means. Don’t derive your own definition to suit your internal logic.

  13. Solo Bear –

    I never said nor implied that “Muslims have a tendency to be terrorists”. Please do not put words into my mouth. I am trying to take an objective approach to this very complex problem of religious extremism and terrorism. If someone, whether claiming to be Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu or whatever, kills people in the name of God (or gods), then we cannot conveniently divorce this issue from religion. That would be burying our head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away. Similarly, we cannot take the American cowboy approach and blame it ALL on Islam, without examining the poverty, injustice and oppression faced by many people in the Muslim world.

    This is the first time I have had an exchange with cynic. It is also the first time someone (i.e., you) has hurtfully accused me of bearing a grudge against Muslims. I bear no such grudge, nor do I have any reason to. I love Muslims just like I love fellow human beings of all races, religions and nationalities.

    For the benefit of yourself and other readers who are not aware about my stand on race, religion and politics, please could I invite you to read these previous posts of mine:

    http://geraldgiam.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/no-pork-podcast-proves-racism-is-alive-and-well-in-singapore/
    http://geraldgiam.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/saf-overly-conservative-about-malays/
    http://geraldgiam.wordpress.com/2006/10/01/idol-results-what-happened-to-communalism
    http://geraldgiam.wordpress.com/2006/07/20/more-balanced-mid-east-coverage-needed/
    http://geraldgiam.wordpress.com/2006/07/16/israels-disproportionate-response-to-terrorist-attacks/
    http://geraldgiam.wordpress.com/2007/09/03/troubled-families-malay-problem-or-singapore-problem/

    #8 dodo –

    The US atomic bombing of Japan is technically not terrorism because the two countries were in a state of declared war. But any killing of civilians, whether during wartime or peacetime, is wrong. Killing 120,000+ civilians with two bombs was very, very wrong. The Americans would not have done that to Berlin or Munich, even if the Germans refused to surrender.

    #9 Yamsam – You might be right. Perhaps that’s why the Indian Home Minister has just resigned.

    #14 Mercia – I am not proud of being numbed by senseless deaths, but can you honestly say that you feel as saddened about the countless Iraqis killed by terrorists, as you do about one of your countrymen who got killed? Perhaps my title could be interpreted as parochial, but I was trying to highlight to readers how even Singapore is not untouched by terrorism. Now perhaps we Singaporeans will empathize a bit more with the Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Palestinians who have to endure terrorism on a daily basis.

  14. Gerald,

    First let me give you a little background of myself, so you would be able to see where I come from. I am a Chinese, but I have many Malay and Indian friends and neighbours. I have been with minority races for years. Hence, although I do not suffer racial discrimination myself, I am able to empathise with them.

    It is with this background that I feel I am able to pick out certain issues which minorities feel discrimination has been meted against them, even though the majority feels otherwise.

    You wrote:
    >>“It is also the first time someone (i.e., you) has hurtfully accused me of bearing a grudge against Muslims.”

    Let me apologise then for my harsh words. However, you have to put your words carefully lest you get misconstrued.

    >“If someone, whether claiming to be Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu or whatever, kills people in the name of God (or gods), then we cannot conveniently divorce this issue from religion.”

    That is the part I have a grouse with you. If a terrorist quotes a religion or teaching, then we should condemn the terrorist and not the teaching. You have actually implied that you believe that because of its teachings, Muslims have a tendency to be terrorists. You may not have used those words, but that is actually what it means, isn’t it?

    Of course, you mention that there are “other factors” that contribute to terrorism. But that is only affirming that many factors contribute to terrorism, and ISLAM is only ONE of the factors. Are you not further implying that you believe that Islam has influenced Muslims to engage in terror?

    Let me give an analogy. Let’s just say you migrate to a western country and you promote Chinese Culture. Somehow, many Chinese find this revival of Chinese Culture enlightening and more and more Chinese locals in this Western country join you to promote Chinese Culture.

    Then imagine that this enthusiasm spreads globally. Suddenly, some small groups, claiming to be practising Chinese Culture kill people in the name of Chinese Culture.

    What would you do now, if Westerners around the world attribute Chinese Terrorism to Chinese Culture?

    Would you now say the same thing, “If someone claims to practise Chinese Culture and kills in the name of Chinese Culture, we cannot bury our heads in the sand and think that Chinese Culture cannot be divorced from Chinese Terrorism?”

    Or would you educate the westerners that Chinese Culture does not condone terror and these terrorists are hijacking Chinese Culture?

    Please put a thought before making insensitive remarks that Islam has anything to do with terror, notwithstanding some so-called Muslims kill in the name of Islam.

    >>“I bear no such grudge, nor do I have any reason to. I love Muslims just like I love fellow human beings of all races, religions and nationalities.”

    I believe your words are no consolation to Muslims. I remember some years back where a Malay MP said that he was told by a Chinese friend that he has nothing against Malays. Yet, his friend said to him, “If only you were not a Muslim.”

    So what do you expect the Malay MP to do to get his friend’s trust? Drop Islam? You think he would do that?

    That is what you are doing, aren’t you? You make many posts to show you have nothing against Malays or Muslims. Yet, when the crunch comes, you keep saying that Islam is to be blamed. Then you go to say that there are OTHER factors as well – meaning that Islam IS one of the factors to be blamed!

    Now what? You expect the Malays to un-Islamize themselves so that you would feel better? You think they would do that?

    Like I said, please put a thought to how you craft your words.

    >>“The US atomic bombing of Japan is technically not terrorism because the two countries were in a state of declared war.”

    That being the case, the Iraq Invasion, which was not sanctioned by UN nor officially declared by US and its allies, is terrorism, isn’t it?

    >>“I am not proud of being numbed by senseless deaths, but can you honestly say that you feel as saddened about the countless Iraqis killed by terrorists, as you do about one of your countrymen who got killed?”

    You need to be clear here. Who are the terrorists in Iraq who go round killing innocents the last 7 years? Americans and their allies or Iraqis?

    >>“Perhaps my title could be interpreted as parochial, but I was trying to highlight to readers how even Singapore is not untouched by terrorism. Now perhaps we Singaporeans will empathize a bit more with the Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Palestinians who have to endure terrorism on a daily basis.”

    To the Pakistanis and Iraqis at this moment, the terrorists are the Americans who bomb innocents in schools, hospitals, and innocents who attend wedding parties and funerals.

    I doubt Singaporeans will come any close to that.

    As long as you believe Islam has a part to do with terror, the Muslims will see you with suspicion as much as you see Islam with suspicion.

    That much I dare say on behalf of cynic and other Malays and Muslims.

  15. Solo – I applaud your open minded attitude and willingness to judge people by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin. I also appreciate your willingness to stand up to what you perceive to be injustice against other people.

    Generally I agree with everything you wrote in your last comment. But you still misunderstood what I meant on this point:

    You said: “If a terrorist quotes a religion or teaching, then we should condemn the terrorist and not the teaching. You have actually implied that you believe that because of its teachings”

    I have not implied that. You inferred wrongly. I am not condemning the teaching, but the terrorist who misused and misquoted the teachings to suit his own agenda. That is what these terrorists are doing right? They take out scripture which was applicable to a certain period where the early Muslims were at war with their enemies, and they apply it to the current day scenario to justify their murder. This is not to say that Islamic scripture is encouraging terrorism. It means the scripture has been misinterpreted by these violent men. I can quote to you scripture from the Torah and Bible that can be used to justify mass murder. But I believe that would similarly be a misinterpretation.

  16. I have seen fire and seen rain
    But I have always thought I would see you Hwei Yen again. Just the other day….

  17. >>I am not condemning the teaching, but the terrorist who misused and misquoted the teachings to suit his own agenda. That is what these terrorists are doing right? They take out scripture which was applicable to a certain period where the early Muslims were at war with their enemies, and they apply it to the current day scenario to justify their murder. This is not to say that Islamic scripture is encouraging terrorism. It means the scripture has been misinterpreted by these violent men. I can quote to you scripture from the Torah and Bible that can be used to justify mass murder. But I believe that would similarly be a misinterpretation.
    >>

    Then we are in agreement that Islam (or any other religion) does not condone terror. However, for discussion’s sake, let’s look at the same principle applied from a different perspective.

    Today’s wars (be it in Iraq or Afghanistan) is based on America’s ideology of spreading democracy through regime change. By the same argument you gave, can we infer that these “democratic” loving warhawks are democratic terrorists?

    I can argue that democracy does not call for the killing of innocents. However, the US has killed time and time again, many innocents – and they justify such acts. Before Iraq and Afghanistan, they killed innocent villagers in Vietnam. They used chemicals and wiped out the whole populace in the villages.

    Remember the naked 10-year old girl featured in a tabloid, running away from the napalm bomb, arms stretched, because her skin was literally hanging from her arms?

    And what about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What have innocents (unborn babies included) done to deserve such demonic treatment?

    We don’t have to talk about scriptures and take it out of context, so that we can a call a Muslim, a Christian or a Zionist as terrorists. All we need to do is to look at the American soldier.

    Anyone dare to call American soldiers democratic terrorists? Using the definition of terror, which is the indisrciminate killing of innocents, why not?

    PS – Over the last half century, American soldiers have killed innocents by the hundreds of thousands, as compared to “other terrorists” who have killed thousands. So why is the American soldier absolved from being called a terrorist?

  18. Unintentional deaths of civilians is not the same as targeted civilian deaths as the key focus of any operation.

    What we see in American-led intervention is usually overwhelming firepower, which often results in collateral damage.

    Having said that, those familiar with US military ops would know that there has been a lot of care taken to ensure minimal collateral damage as far as possible.

    But when shit hits the fan, protection of American assets is the key priority in said operation. I would not expect less if it were my own army having to defend its lines of supply or offense.

    The Americans may not be innocent, but they do not go around with mission objectives that singularly focus on maiming, kidnapping and killing of civilians as an operational task.

  19. >>Unintentional deaths of civilians is not the same as targeted civilian deaths as the key focus of any operation.
    >>

    So when American soldiers target mosques, churches, schools, hospitals, they are not targeting civilians? Get real.

    >>What we see in American-led intervention is usually overwhelming firepower, which often results in collateral damage.
    >>

    What we are seeing is American firepower with no sense of compassion towards civilian life. Just because they cannot find the real terrorists, they target civilians. It happened in Vietnam, it is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Take a look at the A-bombs in WW2. Did they care for civilians?

    >>Having said that, those familiar with US military ops would know that there has been a lot of care taken to ensure minimal collateral damage as far as possible.
    >>

    Those who truly know US military ops know that American soldiers are truly inept. They have the best firepower, yet can’t defeat the Viets. Hence they bomb, bomb, bomb civilians. They still lost the war if you don’t already know.

    During the Iran-Iraq war, the same incompetent dudes failed to stop an Exocet hitting them, and they lost a very sophisticated warship. Then later, in panic, one of their commanders fired a missile at a civilian airbus.

    So when they needed to fire in self-defence, they failed to do so. And when there should not fire, they fired at a civilian target. Not that it took much to differentiate between a giant lumbering airbus and a small versatile fighter!

    >>But when shit hits the fan, protection of American assets is the key priority in said operation.
    >>

    That is far from the truth. The truth is that America’s wars are based on greed for oil.

    >>The Americans may not be innocent, but they do not go around with mission objectives that singularly focus on maiming, kidnapping and killing of civilians as an operational task.
    >>

    When you kill the whole population in towns, there isn’t anybody left to kidnap or maim. The American government is not only not innocent, they’re hypocrites.

  20. every use of arm is terrorism because those that uses weapons know very well that innocent civilians will be killed, women and children will be killed and they still use them. This inlcude American and all those self righteous people.

    So all are terrorist and not just extremist muslims…..

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