Ladies and Gentlemen
The partnership between the community and the Home Team to address security concerns is an established one. It is however not a relationship that that we take for granted as it is this cooperation that have enabled us to keep Singapore safe and secure.
2 Take the retail industry for example. The close collaboration between the retail industry and the Police and the National Crime Prevention Council, for example, has raised the industry's overall crime awareness level. This, in turn, has paved the way for the many security initiatives implemented by the retailers. I am happy to see that many retailers have begun to take this increased vigilance as a necessary feature of doing business in Singapore.
3 For the industry, shop theft remains the top crime. For 2004, shop theft cases increased by 5.2%, from about 4,400 cases in 2003 to about 4,630 cases last year. Hence, it is good that retailers are working together with thePolice to prevent such crimes.
4 Close collaboration between stakeholders in the area of crime control is to be a crucial element in the fight against crime. In this vein, the Police mounted a "Stop Shop Theft" initiative with major supermarkets in Singapore beginning of this year. Under this initiative, Police undertake to update the operators on crime trends as well as best practices adopted by others in preventing shop theft. This information would put the supermarket operators in a better position to employ more effective measures to reduce the number of shop theft cases.
5 Police also provides periodic updates to the Singapore Retailers Association to broadcast to its members. While security managers usually have first-hand access to security-related information from the Police, it is crucial that other employees are also kept up to speed with the management's security concerns. This can be done through briefings and even training. Through this, all your staff can play a more effective role in crime prevention. Going beyond disseminating information down the line, timely sharing of information with your counterparts, such as fellow members of your Security Watch Group, also plays a role in preventing crime at retail establishments. I am told that some of you are keeping each other updated on security information through emails and short messaging services on mobile phones. I applaud this pro-active effort to integrate retailers into a common information network and urge all retailers to capitalize on such information networks.
Terrorism - the challenge for retail industry
6 Security concerns evolved with the changing global socio-political environment. Singapore is no different. Retailers, like any other stakeholders in the business community, must be prepared for greater challenges posed to their continued survival and prosperity by the operating environment. Terrorism is one such challenge. This is not the first time that I have spoken to you about the threat of terrorism but this is a threat that bears repeating. Should a terrorist attack occur, the effects on the retail industry and overall economy of Singapore would be severe. Understanding how we, as a community, can be equipped to deal with this threat is a first and important step towards reducing the threat.
7 There is no doubt that the commercial sector, of which you form a part, has a crucial role to play in facilitating changes to meet the new challenge, both in terms of encouraging a preventive mindset and in the use of security measures, where appropriate. This is why I am pleased to note that you have incorporated a talk on the threat of terrorism as part of this Conference. Through this talk, you will appreciate better the link between the threat of terrorism and your business. The brief will cover actions taken by the authorities to make life inhospitable for terrorists by disrupting their supporting networks and infrastructure, which would make it difficult for them to regroup and strike, as well as outreach programmes undertaken to inform various sectors of the community of such threats and how you, as a member of the community can respondand assist in counter terrorism efforts.
8 The step towards hardening the retail industry against the threat of terrorism is NOT a mighty leap from crime prevention. I see this as a matter of natural progression. The vigilance against crime that you have demonstrated over the years can be applied to counter terrorism at little or no extra effort. For example, when you keep each other informed of security-related matters, you are also sharing information that will harden your business from any terrorist planning to target your premise.
9 Like all Singaporeans, and all other sectors, retailers have to continue to be alert and vigilant. Only then, can we operate in a relaxed environment, knowing that preventive measures are in place. This may sound contradictory but it is not. It is really a necessary pragmatic approach. Do continue to work closely with the Police and the National Crime Prevention Council to provide a safe environment for shoppers against both crime and potential terrorist threats. Your efforts in promoting security within the retail industry would most certainly help to position Singapore as a shopping haven in the region.
10 It is now my pleasure to declare the Commercial Premises Security Conference - Retail Security 2005 open. I wish one and all an insightful and enriching time. Thank you.