Recently, Ustaz Abdul Shomad, an Indonesian ‘ulama, and preacher, was not allowed to enter Singapore. The country’s immigration authorities deported the cleric to Batam. The news about the deportation of the Ustaz by the Singapore government had become national news in Indonesia.
In this essay, I am interested in discussing the deportation of Ustaz Abdul Shomad by the immigration authorities of the Singapore government. News of the rejection of UAS became national news in Indonesia. This condition shows a core question that must be answered, why UAS is not allowed to enter Singapore?
From my experience and several colleagues entering any country, it is the right of every destination country to accept or reject someone to enter their country. So, when we are dealing with immigration officers, we never know whether our names are on the “list” that is not allowed to enter the country.
Therefore, I will give some things that might be able to answer why UAS is not allowed to enter Singapore. Although the Singapore government knows better about this reason, sometimes it will not be told to anyone, because in the logic of security and national interest, anything will be done by a country to determine whether someone can or cannot enter their country.
First, UAS may be a figure that international parties monitor. His work in recent years sometimes does not provide comfort for certain parties. Therefore, the ban on UAS may be an “order” from parties who have direct access to the Singapore government.
Second, UAS has been the figure of an Indonesian preacher who is most closely monitored by the security apparatus, although he also lectures in front of the security forces. A high-ranking security officer in one of the countries shows the itinerary of UAS’s journey in preaching in Indonesia.
Whenever there is a significant Muslim agenda in Jakarta, UAS is always “invited” to islands far from the location of the demonstrations by Muslims in Jakarta. The itinerary and agenda for his da’wah are already known until next year because the figure of UAS is a new figure who may be in contact with national, regional, and international stability. Of course, UAS will never realize this.
Third, the name of UAS may be included in the database lists of names that are not wanted by the United States government and its allies. Usually, these names are disseminated to intelligence networks based on intelligence cooperation among countries that agree to share intelligence information.
When the name appears in the database, no one will be able to help that person enter a country. Some of these experiences show that information on suspects’ names is also held by several governments in Southeast Asia.
The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia will not be able to interfere with the security system of the Singapore government when rejecting an Indonesian citizen. Even the immigration authorities not only refused UAS but many Indonesian citizens were refused when they came to Singapore without any concrete reasons.
He had no authority to clarify. Usually, immigration staff only get orders to carry out their duties which is where usually the relevant parties decide whether or not a person is allowed to enter their country.
Since 2001, Singapore has been known as “another American Country” in Southeast Asia. Insults to Indonesian citizens are often heard if we queue when we want to stamp our passports because this country does not want to be a transit point or a target for terrorist activities. Alternatively, look for work in the country illegally.
So, rejection or deportation experienced by UAS is a common thing. Even the Indonesian government had also done the same thing, with reasons like those presented by the Singapore government, when it rejected UAS. Nor will this diplomatic reason be confirmed with the government that expels someone from the country.
Likewise, treatment in a 1×2 room is also standard and experienced by those who want to be sent back to their country of origin. If there are suspected immigrants in Malaysia, immigration officers will usually say not to be in line again and then be directed to a specific room while waiting for their fate.
Our psychological burden will undoubtedly be visible when placed in a prison-like room for a longer time, especially if we are important people in our home country. Some of my colleagues have experienced it, although he is a very respectable person in Indonesia.
Finally, an essential lesson from the UAS deportation is that our lives are monitored by our government and by foreigners. They will always see a person’s progress in the real world and cyberspace.
Then, intelligence analysts are invited to make an essential contribution in looking at a person’s track record; until then, they define it as an intelligence product, which is conveyed to related parties, including immigration and the ministry of foreign affairs.
This is where we just realized that our speech, behavior, and understanding are not always comfortable for those who feel disturbed by our presence. The experiences of those who were deported were not always because of their track record. However, sometimes they were blocked because it was predicted that the person would hold various meetings in the country that he wanted to enter.
So, the reason for the refusal of UAS is only known by Singapore intelligence. However, we only learn from experience when the intelligence product is working. Then anyone will be a target, which is then, as the Singapore immigration officer said: “I have no power!”