CENS Activities 2009
Review of CENS Activities 2009
It was an extremely busy year for CENS. The year began fruitfully on 16 February 2009, when CENS organized the Food Defence Workshop at Traders Hotel. The workshop looked at the issue of intentional and malicious contamination of the food supply chain and brought together a mix of international practitioners and academics to share both current research efforts as well as the different policy approaches various countries take to the issue. A report examining malicious contamination of the food supply chain was also published by CENS in conjunction with the workshop. The report, Food Defence Incidents 1950-2008: A Chronology and Analysis of Incidents Involving the Malicious Contamination of the Food Supply Chain was published by Gregory Dalziel, an Associate Research Fellow in CENS. The report has received favorable local and international attention. Gary Ackerman, Assistant Director for Research and Communication National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) in the University of Maryland praised the report as such: “It is very thorough and will no doubt become the authoritative report on food supply contamination – I will certainly be making use of it almost immediately.”
The Nation: Narratives and Community workshop was held in Marina Mandarin Hotel on 2 March 2009. The workshop addressed the complex nature of the nation and its narratives in a two-fold manner. First, it fleshed out the relationship between state narratives and counter narratives. Second, by embracing narratives essentially as a manner of communication, the workshop offered a critical examination of the narrative dissonances in the state-citizen relationship that is expressed and asserted via various mediums.
Also convened was the signature annual CENS event – the 3rd Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Officers (APPSNO 09) at The Sentosa Resort and Spa. Held on 12-17 April 2009, APPSNO 09 allowed senior national security officers from the Asia-Pacific and beyond to analyze the concept of risk in various national security contexts. Distinguished speakers such as the eminent computer security expert Bruce Schneier, Chief Security Technology Office from British Telecom and Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology from the University of Kent, United Kingdom, were invited to share their insights. APPSNO 09 also featured a local phase during the second week at the Civil Service College. CENS Senior Fellow Bill Durodié delivered lectures during APPSNO Local Week, while Head of CENS Kumar Ramakrishna chaired dialogue sessions between local officers and the Head of Civil Service, Mr. Peter Ho; Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Home Affairs), Mr. Benny Lim; and Deputy Secretary (Policy), Ministry of Defence, BG Gary Ang.
On 13-16 September 2009, CENS and the Global Futures Forum (GFF), a US State Department funded but fully multinational network of national security practitioners and researchers committed to studying emerging global security issues, held an innovative, “out-of-the-box” joint conference in partnership with the National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS) titled “International Conference on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (ICEDT )”. This conference created a unique multi-disciplinary forum for scientists, engineers, policymakers, and decision makers from different sectors to exchange ideas on how adversaries (state or non-state) could potentially exploit emerging technologies including dual technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and ICT – and what in practical terms should be done to counter or head off such a prospect.
Following hot on the heels of the ICEDT was Therapy Culture Revisited: The Impact of the Language of Therapy on Public Policy and Societal Resilience workshop from 5-6 October 2009. Organized by CENS in partnership with NSCS, this workshop critically examined the concept of resilience and how it might be undermined when societies are obsessed with therapy. The workshop was central to CENS’ role in exploring both psychological and societal resilience. It brought together a stellar cast of renowned psychiatrists and legal professionals such as Arieh Shalev and James Nolan who presented current clinical and court findings on the outcome of therapeutic interventions on societies’ ability to recover from shocks.
The CENS-Warwick International Security Initiative Workshop on Radicalization / De-radicalization: Global Lessons Learned was held on 1-3 November at Marina Mandarin Hotel. The workshop was part of a larger three-track, joint conference with Warwick University, commemorating the launch of an RSIS-Warwick Double Masters Programme. The workshop brought together well-known speakers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, the UK, US, and Australia to discuss the process and mechanisms of radicalization as well as evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of existing de-radicalization and counter-radicalization practices.
The year 2009 also saw a number of visitors to CENS. CENS first hosted a promising young American scholar Justin Zorn as a Visiting Fulbright Scholar. A former research assistant to Mr Leon Fuerth, the National Security Advisor to former US Vice-President Al Gore, Justin spent six months attached to CENS studying the Singapore government’s innovative Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning (RAHS) project. In August, CENS hosted Dani Arditi, who was until recently the Chairman of the National Security Council and the National Security Affairs Advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister, as Distinguished Visiting Fellow. Aside from conducting his personal research, Arditi delivered a number of talks on national security in Israel and the surrounding region. CENS also scored a significant coup by hosting the prominent terrorism expert Marc Sageman, author of Leaderless Jihad, as Distinguished Visiting Fellow. During his three-week stay in Singapore, Sageman delivered a number of talks on his new “Blob theory of terrorism” and engaged faculty, students and members of the policy community in numerous exchanges of ideas and views. CENS also attracted Ben O’Loughlin, a visiting scholar from Royal Holloway, University of London, who spent the last quarter of 2009 conducting research into and delivering talks on the how the mass media shapes public understandings of violent radicalization.
On the international networking front, CENS represented Singapore in a meeting of the GFF Steering Group in Washington DC on 25 February 2009. Acknowledging its traditional focus on Europe and the Atlantic relationship, GFF is now keen to move into Asia as well, and the SG meeting explored the details of Singapore being the venue for the first-ever GFF General Meeting in Asia in 2010. This would be a massive event, seeing 300-400 senior and working-level members of intelligence and security communities coming together. The theme of the General Meeting will be Building Resilience in the Face of Future Shocks.
CENS staff members were also active on the publication front. Books published included Kumar Ramakrishna’s Radical Pathways: Understanding Muslim Radicalization in Indonesia, published in April 2009 by the US-based Praeger Security International and positively reviewed in The Straits Times on 19 June 2009. Norman Vasu’s How Diasporic Peoples Maintain their Identity in Multicultural Societies: Chinese, Africans, and Jews was also put out by New York-based Edwin Mellen Press early in 2009. Ng Sue Chia published a monograph in August 2009 on Threads of Gold: The Rise of Indochinese Enterprises in Terengganu, which explored the concept of national identity, the role of religion and the interplay of political-economic factors in the assimilation of Cham refugees into mainstream Malaysian society. In addition, several commentaries, newspaper op-eds and working papers were also published by CENS staff. For instance Bill Durodié’s commentary “Understanding Radicalization” made it to The New York Times while his “The Forgotten Role of the Government” made the pages of The Straits Times.
Last but not least, members of the CENS team maintained a very significant public profile locally and internationally throughout 2009. For instance Kumar Ramakrishna was interviewed extensively following the arrest of JI terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari in Malaysia in May 2009. His interviews were featured in The Straits Times, Channel News Asia and SAFRA Radio, among others. Amongst other engagements in what proved to be a very busy year, Ramakrishna spoke on “Cognitive Immunization as a Tool for Counter-Radicalization: Reflections on the Indonesian Experience” at the Eighth Biannual Symposium of the Council for Asian Terrorism Research (CATR), from 28-30 April 2009 in Jakarta, Indonesia. CENS was inducted into the US-led but multinational CATR network of counter-terrorism think tanks and Ramakrishna appointed to the CATR International Board at this meeting. Among other engagements, Ramakrishna also spoke at the Special Forces Commanders’ Conference on 19 October 2009 and also shared his views on violent extremism with elements of the US intelligence community at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC on 18 November. Other CENS staff members were active at various international conferences. Examples include Norman Vasu’s speech at the Bahrain Security Forum and Exhibition in February 2009. On 4 June 2009, Bill Durodié provided a Threat Assessment for National Security at the National Security Seminar held in Dili, East Timor. He also spoke on “Religion, Radicalism, and Terror” for the 23rd Asia-Pacific Roundtable in Kuala Lumpur on 2 June and “Is there a global power shift from the West to the East?” for the 5th Battle of Ideas Festival in London on 31 October. Clinton Lorimore presented on “The Plight of the Rohingya: Time for Intervention” at the International Conference on Peace and Reconciliation, 7–10 July 2009 at University of California at Los Angeles, USA. Last but not least, CENS staff members Norman Vasu, Yolanda Chin and Gregory Dalziel were invited to present presented papers at the ISA-ABRI Joint International Convention held in Rio de Janeiro, 22-24 July 2009. The topic of this conference was themed Diversity and Inequality in World Politics, which saw researchers and academics from a variety of regions present papers on a wide range of topics. Norman Vasu presented a paper entitled “Economic North / Political South: Cultural Citizens and Singapore”; Yolanda Chin’s paper was called “Expedient Accountability: The PAP’s Struggle for Singapore’s Success” while Gregory Dalziel’s was “Rumors, Strategic Communication and Fear of Terrorism”.
Last updated on 10/06/2015