Published: 15 August 2016
Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether he can provide an update on how our safety and security preparations have measured up thus far, bearing in mind the Ministry's recent SG Secure initiative and lessons noted from the recent terrorism-related attacks around the world.
1. The attacks over the last 3 years, around the world and in the region shows the nature of the threat. The recent attacks on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport and in Nice underline that point. The attack on a nightclub in Kuala Lumpur in June was the first ISIS-linked attack in Malaysia.
2. We are on the radar as well. Just over a week ago, Indonesian authorities arrested terror suspects in Batam. The group was planning a rocket attack on Marina Bay from Batam. The main issue is not the nature of the plans – rockets and so on. The main point is that terrorists are looking for ways of attacking us. Probing for entry points, checking out different options.
3. These attacks can be launched by organised groups, or self-radicalised individuals. They can plan and launch the attack from just outside Singapore. They can come through our borders and checkpoints. Or they could be home grown radicals launching an attack from within Singapore. Even without firearms or explosives, they can still inflict many casualties.
4. Our security agencies are monitoring these developments closely, assessing the impact on Singapore. We continue to work with our overseas partners to share information at all levels to fight against terrorism. The arrests in Batam by the Indonesians is just one example of this close co-operation. When we receive information on such threats, we cannot always announce them publicly due to operational secrecy reasons. Our security agencies constantly calibrate our security measures in the context of such threats.
5. I have previously spoken about the need to significantly enhance our national counter-terrorism efforts in areas of (a) increasing security protection and vigilance, (b) strengthening our security responses to an incident and (c) building strong community resilience to fight terrorism under SG Secure. I will give an update on these measures.
Increasing Security Protection & Vigilance
6. We have substantially enhanced our security vigilance by expanding our CCTV coverage. We completed the installation of PolCam 1.0 in June 2016 - 62,000 cameras in all 10,000 HDB resident blocks. We have commenced the rollout of PolCam 2.0 and completed the installation of cameras in Ang Mo Kio Town Centre, Bedok Town Centre, and Jurong Gateway. About 11,000 more cameras will be progressively installed over the next few years, to cover public areas in our neighbourhood and town centres.
7. In tandem, we have stepped-up our efforts to encourage industry groups and premise owners to put in place security measures. The Safety and Security Watch Group (SSWG) is an important platform to achieve this. We held the first Counter-Terrorism seminar with the Retail SSWG in July, and with the Financial Industry SSWG last Friday (12th August). Through SSWG, SPF advises premise owners on how to increase their vigilance through a customised approach for each industry. Some practical examples of measures they can take include installing CCTVs, or preparing their staff for emergencies through contingency plans, regular exercises and training.
8. Premise owners are encouraged to bring this training back to their workplaces, and Police will follow-up to help them review their plans, and validate them through exercises. We will hold more Counter-Terrorism seminars over the coming months for the hotel, chemical, security and manufacturing industries.
9. Police also work with various stakeholders to put in place security measures for crowded areas and events. I will not be able to go into the operational details. But calibrated measures are taken to protect against attacks, including those which attempt to use a vehicle as a weapon. These measures are continually reviewed based on SPF’s risk assessment.
10. In the event of an attack, it is critical for security forces to arrive as quickly as possible and take down armed attackers decisively. The SPF has reorganised its terrorist response forces to enhance their firepower, operational capabilities and speed of response.
11. SPF recently commissioned the first batch of Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) in June. They are specially trained in counter-assault and equipped with more firepower. Singaporeans may have seen them patrolling in the Central Business District and Orchard areas. SPF has also started operational trials for new Rapid Deployment Troops (RDT) within SPF’s Special Operations Command (SOC) in July. The RDTs use Tactical Response Motorcycles to navigate through traffic to reach an incident quickly to support the ERTs in the event of an attack.
12. SPF and SAF are also jointly developing counter-terrorism plans for high-visibility patrols during heightened threat conditions. This provides both deterrence and swifter response to terrorist attacks. The agencies are exercising these plans together.
13. The community plays a critical role in our efforts to fight terrorism on a sustained basis.
14. SGSecure will be officially launched later this year. SGSecure will sensitise, train and mobilise Singaporeans to play their part to prevent and deal with a terrorist attack. The Home Team has worked with our partner agencies to roll out pilot programmes across multiple domains to rally the community so that in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, we will stay united and stay strong. These programmes include the revamped Emergency Preparedness (EP) days held at Chong Pang, Jurong Spring and Toa Payoh West-Balestier.
15. The Home Team has also developed advisories and applications to equip and prepare our community in the event of an attack. These include
a. The ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ advisory which guides the public on how to respond when an attack occurs.
b. The new SMS71999 platform to allow the public to report an incident to the Police if it is not safe for them to talk during an emergency.
c. The Police@SG app’s i-Witness function which enables users to point, shoot and send information on major incidents and crime to support Police’s investigation.
d. The ‘Improvised First Aid Skills’ advisory which teaches the public how to use everyday items to help administer first aid to injured persons in the event of an attack.
e. The SG Secure E-learning package which allows the public to carry out e-learning at their own pace and pick up useful survival skills to stay vigilant, cohesive and resilient.
16. The Home Team’s priority is to mobilise our efforts and that of society to fight terrorism, and to prevent an attack from happening. Our security agencies will do all they can to prevent an attack. But should a terrorist attack occur, it is important for all of us to stand united against the threat, with a spirit of resilience that we will not be defeated and that we will bounce back as one people.