Published: 05 August 2019
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs how is the Home Team prepared for multiple concurrent civil unrest incidents without significantly compromising its routine incident response responsibilities.
1. Multiple concurrent civil unrest incidents will stretch the resources of the Home Team.
2. Our primary strategy must therefore be to put in place measures to prevent any assembly or procession from escalating into civil unrest in the first place.
3. Public assemblies in Singapore are regulated under the Public Order Act, and a Police permit is required to hold a public assembly. Clear guidelines are given to event organisers during their permit application. For example, they are required to conduct their events in a socially responsible manner and ensure they do not cause any danger or undue alarm to the general public. They are also advised to give due consideration to ensure that public safety, security, law and order are not compromised during the event.
4. The Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act (POSSPA) was introduced in 2018 to ensure that Police have powers to deal effectively with serious threats to public security and order. For example, in an area where POSSPA powers have been authorised, Police may impose a cordon around the target area and order any vehicle or individual within the cordon to leave or be removed, close public roads within or leading to or from the target area, or impose a curfew requiring every person in the target area to remain indoors within specified hours.
5. Such powers allow the Police to take decisive measures if the need arises, to prevent public order incidents from escalating.
6. The Government has in place a crisis management system to prepare for and respond to major incidents. In the event of multiple concurrent civil unrest incidents, the Homefront Crisis Management System would be activated to coordinate a whole-of-Government response.
7. As for operational capabilities, Police’s frontline first responders are trained and equipped to deal with public order situations. If necessary, SPF can also draw on specialist forces. The Special Operations Command (SOC) troopers are trained to handle such situations.
8. Should there be a surge in capacity required to manage incidents, Police have procedures in place to amass both on and off duty resources. They can also recall and mobilise Police National Servicemen, and tap on Volunteer Special Constabulary officers. While Police resources could be stretched in managing multiple civil unrests, they remain committed to maintain law and order, without compromising on response to urgent incidents.