Published: 12 October 2023
Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. Good morning.
2. I would like to begin by expressing Singapore’s appreciation to the government of Vietnam for hosting the 11th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM) and the 12th Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER).
3. I also wish to congratulate Vietnam for your strong leadership as Chair of the ACDM and AMMDM this year. The theme of your Chairmanship, “From Response to Anticipatory Action and Resilience: ASEAN’s Journey towards Global Leadership in Disaster Management”, aptly describes ASEAN’s transformation efforts in disaster management and highlights the importance of strengthening disaster resilience.
Cultivating Greater Resilience in the Face of Rising Disasters
4. Our region is no stranger to natural disasters. Typhoons, floods, droughts, and other natural disasters had tested our response and resilience on multiple occasions. From 2018 to 2022, one in seven persons in our region had been a victim of disasters.
5. Our disaster management efforts, primarily focused on response and recovery, have saved many lives. However, with disasters happening more frequently, we need to also focus on upstream efforts to strengthen disaster resilience in our communities.
6. Anticipatory action is the way forward. This is underscored in the Ha Long Ministerial Statement on the Strengthening of ASEAN Anticipatory Action in Disaster Management. The Statement emphasises three key outcomes, namely:
(a) Firstly, risk information, forecasting and early warning systems,
(b) Secondly, planning, operations, and delivery, and
(c) Thirdly, strengthening ASEAN’s financial resilience in dealing with disasters
7. These outcomes will protect people, assets, and livelihoods by reducing disaster-related loss and damage in ASEAN Member States.
Singapore’s Commitment to Strengthening Anticipatory Action
8. Singapore is committed to realising the outcomes of the Ha Long Ministerial Statement. We place equal emphasis on disaster risk reduction and disaster response. I would like to share some of Singapore’s efforts in strengthening our anticipatory action capabilities.
9. First, we recognise the importance of investing in early detection and warning systems. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) maintains and operates the Public Warning System. It is a network of sirens across the island that warns the public of imminent threats. We are also able to broadcast emergency messages through television and radio, as well as via mobile phones through the SMS Public Alert System and the SGSecure mobile application.
10. Second, strong inter-agency collaboration facilitates effective and cohesive crisis response. Our agencies collaborate closely with one another to ensure that they are prepared and ready to respond to various scenarios.
11. One example of how we strengthen multi-agency collaboration is our national-level emergency exercise known as Exercise Northstar. The 11th Exercise Northstar was conducted in March 2023 and the simulated scenario involved a terrorist attack on various oil tanks and petrochemical pipelines. More than 300 personnel from various agencies including the SCDF, Singapore Police Force, Singapore Armed Forces, Ministry of Health, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, and private companies participated in the exercise. Through Exercise Northstar, we validated and improved emergency response and coordination among national agencies in Singapore.
12. Third, community engagement and education continue to play an integral role in our disaster mitigation efforts. The SCDF continues to engage the community actively through a wide range of public education programmes, to enhance our collective resilience and emergency preparedness and towards the vision of creating A Nation of Lifesavers.
Importance of International Cooperation
13. Excellencies, while it is important for individual countries to strengthen our national strategies in disaster management, we also have a responsibility to work together to collectively enhance disaster resilience for our region.
14. Singapore acknowledges the importance of AMMDM and the ACDM in bringing the ASEAN Community together to strengthen our joint commitment to advance disaster resilience in the region.
15. To support regional efforts, Singapore hosted the ASEAN Disaster Management Week in August this year. The event included the inaugural ASEAN Disaster Resilience Forum and the flagship annual Strategic Policy Dialogue in Disaster Management. 200 participants from various ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and partners attended the week-long event, and shared best practices and exchanged valuable insights on disaster management. Such dialogues and interactions build strong foundations for our disaster management strategies, and enhance the region’s collective ability to tackle large-scale disasters. I am happy to meet many of our ASEAN counterparts.
16. Your excellencies, Singapore is confident that our collective efforts and commitment as a region will build a more resilient ASEAN, one that anticipates, prepares, and stands united in the face of adversity.
17. I would like to extend my gratitude to Vietnam, our ACDM and AMMDM Chair, Brunei, the Vice-Chair, all ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the AHA Centre for your continued support and hard work in the field of disaster management.
18. Thank you, Chairman.