The year was marked by economic and security crises on the one hand, and on the other by national consultation, self-reflection, and self-critique, all with the aim of remaking a nation that by most accounts has not even been made yet. But a nation-building project with a clear start and a conceivable moment of completion is little more than a fiction, though a useful one because it narrates (and so explains) past, present, and future in ways that orientate individual experiences and values to the needs, purposes, and destiny of the imaginary nation. But Singapore, as with all living nations, can only be alive if its meanings and purposes are the site of an inconclusive and dialectical relationship between conflict and celebration, a slippery and fragile balance that serves to re-enchant the national imagination within processes of globalization that curiously homogenize as much as they fragment.
Dealing with Terrorism: The Strategies
On 11 September 2001, explosions rippled out from the economic and political capitals of the most powerful nation on earth, and the rest of the unsuspecting world was stunned. Ordinary people reacted with sympathy, empathy, and righteous indignation, while the political élite grappled internationally with the difficult question, “What is to be done?” For Singaporeans, the answers were clear as an increasing stream of media images put real names and faces to the shadowy, and at one time faraway, world of international political violence. It was no longer just a story of an American tragedy that inspired, far beyond its shores, a sense of pity and terror. It had become a sobering realization that slippery, transnationally organized, and highly motivated networks brought the possibility of terrorist activity much closer to home.
In less than three months, the Singapore Government detained under the Internal Security Act fifteen men suspected of terrorist activities that included drawing up plans to attack U.S. interests in Singapore such as the Embassy and other commercial buildings, and even American personnel who were known to travel by the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system from the station at Yishun, a public housing estate.