SPS Sun Xueling
Business leaders, grassroots leaders, community and religious organisation leaders
Senior officials from the public sector
- We launched SGSecure in 2016. Our main purpose was to raise awareness and train our people to be able to protect and help themselves if they find themselves in a nasty situation like a terrorist situation.
- We recognised upfront that we can’t do this ourselves. We are talking about raising awareness not within a small group of specialists but the entire community. That can only be done by bringing in a whole variety of domain partners, community partners, to get everyone involved, to reach out to them.
- We have held Emergency Preparedness Days and we have done this in every constituency. We conducted talks at every school and with community, religious and business leaders.
- As the momentum increased in the last year, more people and organisations came forward to say that they want to be trained, and they want their own organisations to be prepared to be able to respond.
- So in the second year after we launched SGSecure, from late 2017, the Ministry of Education (MOE) conducted lockdown drills in all schools, so that teachers and students know how to respond to an attack in a school compound.
- For workplaces, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has been extremely supportive and introduced the SGSecure@Workplaces programme. Incentives help, so they have put it into a bizSAFE Workplace Safety and Health framework. So if you want a bizSAFE certification, it would be useful to have this. This will really prepare the workplaces and the workforce. Drills and exercises are conducted periodically, such as Exercise Heartbeat at 313 Somerset last week. So businesses see it in their interest to come forward.
- If you look at the community sector, we work closely with the People’s Association (PA). So PA and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) helped trained grassroots leaders, community leaders and religious leaders. So that they are also prepared that when an attack happens, what do you do? Not just the immediate response to an attack but in the aftermath, when there are rumours and when people are accusing each other and when there are psychological implications. How do community and religious leaders come forward, how do they help, how do grassroots leaders help?
- So if you look at it in terms of the last two years, almost three in four Singaporeans are now aware of SGSecure. Being aware is very far from being prepared but at least awareness is the first difficult hurdle. So 75 per cent are aware of SGSecure, at least it has sort of gotten in there.
- Most Singaporeans believe that they know how to identify suspicious items and behaviour. Eight out of ten think they know how to respond at a scene of an explosion - that they must report, they must take cover, they must protect themselves. That number was one in two in 2015, before we started. 1 in 2 agree that they are well-prepared, an increase from 1 in 3 in 2015.
- What is personally very heartening for me and the organisation, is that almost intuitively and as a matter of cause, almost everyone we surveyed, believed that it was important to help others who get caught in the situation and they see it as their responsibility to safeguard Singapore’s safety and security.
- People actually walk the talk. I’ll just share a couple of examples. Mr Mohd Azman and Mr Ow Kok Meng are educators and Police NSmen. They extended their NS for three years because they wanted to take an active part in spreading the SGSecure message. They spend their weekends championing SGSecure, and they have trained more than 4,000 of our Citizens on Patrol (COPs) on SGSecure.
TERROR THREAT REMAINS SERIOUS
- Some of you would have read that MHA released our 2nd Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report earlier this week. The impact of ISIS peaked a couple of years ago, when they were at the height of their powers. Since they have lost territories and they have been beaten back, I think the attraction has come down. But the Internet and ideas, being what they are, are floating around.
- The threat is of an amorphous nature. You don’t know who is going to be radicalised, how the radicalisation might take place, who goes on to the Internet and gets angry with what they read. So, while the attraction of ISIS has abated, nevertheless, the likelihood of somebody, or a group of people, to get angry, get radicalised, self-radicalised, or radicalised through preachers - those threats remain. They are the new normal. That is part of our life. It is not going to go away.
SGSECURE AS A WAY OF LIFE
- So our preparedness and response, I think, have to be in-built and part of the new normal. This means getting people committed, not just to be aware, but committed to take action themselves. So, we have a new tagline for SGSecure - “Our Response Matters. We make SGSecure”. Your response matters. How are you going to respond? It involves individual responsibility, group responsibility. How do you take ownership?
TAKING OWNERSHIP TO PICK UP SKILLS
- Let me give you an example - Mdm Adelina Akil. She is a mother of two and a grassroots volunteer. She went to get training on CPR-AED at her grassroots event. She thought it might be useful in a family situation, in any situation. Later on, she was at Jurong Point Shopping Centre, where she saw a lady collapse. She stepped forward and when she found that the victim was not breathing, she did CPR. Others around retrieved an AED from Boon Lay MRT station. Because of their swift response, the victim revived even before the SCDF paramedics came. This is a community, society coming together to help each other, and as a result, a life was saved. We are going to take this and push it, and you’ll hear more about our plans later.
VOLUNTEERING AND MOBILISING OTHERS TO COME FORWARD
- We will also make it easier for those who are already volunteering, to come and be linked up to a network of responders. So there is a community of responders who know where others are, and how you link up and how you can work together.
COLLABORATING ACROSS DOMAINS
- We also want to encourage collaborations across the different domains.I talked about schools, community, workplaces, religious organisations, leaders. But since the threat does not restrict itself to one particular domain, if we can bring the different domains together and ask them to work together, it becomes much more effective.
- Let me give you an example. Queensway Secondary School starts with its own students and teachers. They familiarise themselves. They brought in the Parents Support Group - a good idea. They then brought in the Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre, and two churches in its vicinity. So you have the churches, the Police, the Parents Support Group, students, teachers, all coming together in their contingency plans. By involving all of these people, the school is better able to protect its population, the partners are able to better leverage each other, should the school or the people within the school, be targeted. We will encourage more of such collaborations.
- The Police and SCDF work closely with Safety and Security Watch Groups (SSWG) to raise emergency preparedness of commercial buildings. Members of the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs)have participated in the Crisis Response Exercises. We will try and strengthen these collaborations and create more cross platforms, bring different stakeholders together.
- We are finding that organisations are coming forward. If you take the Jurong Gateway SSWG, they get grassroots leaders from Bukit Batok East and Yuhua constituencies and representatives from malls like Westgate, JEM, and IMM, and they bring in the Jurong Regional Library, CPF Board, SMRT and JurongHealth campus. They come together once every three months to discuss their ideas, how they can collaborate and support each other should something happen, based on the geographical proximity and the relevance of the members.
- So, today’s conference is really to say this is the approach and we want to create more of this and deepen the collaborations.
- When we come together like this, in the deepening of bonds and SGSecure message, the aim is to make everyone aware and to take responsibility for SGSecure, individually and as a community, and to know that you are not alone, but part of a larger community with a similar focus.
- Thank you all for being here and it’s a great pleasure to be part of this very meaningful journey.