Singapore — A man detained in 2016 for terrorism-related activities has been jailed for 6 weeks over falsehoods he made in an application in 2013 to renew his Singapore passport.
Mohamad Shariff Zulfikar, 49, pleaded guilty to one charge under the Passports Act of making a false statement in the application. He was sentenced on Thursday (Oct 22).
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced in a press release on Oct 8 that Zulfikar had been arrested by the Internal Security Department (ISD) and had been in custody since July 2016 under the Internal Security Act (ISA) “for his active promotion of terrorism and glorification of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) online”.
According to the MHA, the actions of Zulfikar had contributed to the radicalisation of at least two other Singaporeans: Muhammad Shamin bin Mohamed Sidek, who was detained under the ISA for terrorism-related activities; and Mohamed Saiddhin bin Abdullah, whose Restriction Order was allowed to lapse on July 26 this year.
Furthermore, “Zulfikar had also exhorted Muslims to reject the constitutional, secular, democratic state in favour of the establishment of an Islamic state governed by Syariah law. He believed that violence should be used to achieve this goal if necessary,” MHA noted.
When he was arrested in 2016, Zulfikar had dual Singapore/Australian citizenship. However, in the course of investigations into his case by the ISD and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), he admitted to having entered Singapore using his Singapore passport and did not tell the authorities about his Australian citizenship.
Since he did not want to give up either citizenship, he also lied to the ICA when he applied to renew his Singapore passport in 2013, saying he did not have any other citizenship.
The MHA added that he had renounced his Singapore citizenship and ceased to be a Singapore citizen since Aug 26, 2020.
As he had told a falsehood to the ICA in 2013 regarding his Singapore passport renewal application, Zulfikar faced a charge under Section 39 (1) of the Passports Act, Chapter 22.
Channel NewsAsia reports that Zulfikar, who moved with his family to Australia in 2002, applied for Australian citizenship with his son in 2011, as he wanted his son to escape his National Service obligations.
And even if he knew that dual citizenship was not allowed in Singapore, he still took up Australian citizenship.
Going in and out of Singapore on 15 occasions, his falsehoods were not discovered as he would at times leave via Malaysia using his Singapore passport but would enter Singapore using his Australian passport.
The prosecution asked for a six-week jail term, while the defence asked for four to five weeks in jail, calling Zulfikar’s case “unique”.
His family back in Australia has struggled with his absence of four years, the lawyer added. “I heard from the wife that one of my client’s (children) is also having to seek professional psychological help to cope with my client’s situation.”
However, the judge agreed with the sentence that the prosecution suggested, underlining the level of deception Zulfikar had used.
He could have ended up in jail for as long as 10 years, been fined as much as S$10,000, or both, for his offence under the Passports Act. /TISG