The National Safety & Security Watch Group Award Ceremony 2016 – Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development

Published: 24 June 2016

Members of the Safety & Security Watch Groups

Business & Community Partners

Home Team colleagues


Ladies and Gentlemen


1.     Thank you for joining me at this morning's National Safety & Security Watch Group Award Ceremony.


Continued threat of terrorism


2.     You saw the video, you saw how our business partners take security and the threat of terrorism seriously. The terrorist threat facing Singapore is at its highest ever. Many Singaporeans are acutely aware of the danger. There was a Straits Times poll conducted in March this year and three out of every four Singaporeans who were interviewed felt that it would only be a matter of time before we come under a terrorist attack. Of the 500 respondents who were interviewed, more than 200 were worried about Singapore's financial district or our shopping malls coming under attack.


3.     While the Government has put in place strong proactive, protective and deterrent measures to guard against terrorist attacks, these efforts on their own will not be enough. To safeguard our homes, our communities and our way of life, we will need the support and constant vigilance of the wider community.                       


4.     Recent tragic events have seen attacks taking place at crowded, public places. Defenseless civilians were unable to respond. In the Paris attacks last year, they targeted innocent civilians in restaurants, in a theatre, a stadium and so on. In Jakarta, gunmen attacked people near a busy shopping mall. More recently, in Brussels, more than 30 people were killed in coordinated attacks on the airport and metro station. These are public places where any person, you and me, our families, our friends, our colleagues, can expect to be at, at any point of time. So we need everyone, not just security personnel, to be vigilant and to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to help ourselves and others in the event of a terrorist attack.


5.     It is part and parcel of human psychology. You can see it happening, you can be told that the risks are high, we know the risks are high, and yet somehow we feel it will not happen to us, it will not happen at our mall, it will not happen at our workplace, at this MRT station, that park, this school. It's always that sense, that statistically the threat is high but it may not be us.


SSWG – Supporting SG Secure


6.     To focus our efforts and galvanise the community, the Ministry of Home Affairs, as you would know, will be implementing SG Secure. This is a new national movement to better prepare Singaporeans from all walks of life against terrorist attacks. SG Secure is a call to action. It is not a campaign, it is a call to action, to mobilise everyone in our city to strengthen vigilance, cohesion and resilience. 

7.     For our business community, you can play a part by preparing for the possibility of an attack, in and around your workplaces, your factories, your malls. One of the many ways you can do this is through this platform, the Safety & Security Watch Group scheme (or SSWG). Through this scheme, the Home Team has partnered many of you here, over the last 10 years to target-harden business premises, to safeguard the public and our business community, our friends, our colleagues. So this is a good platform for us to use to work together for SG Secure.

8.     What are some of the things that our SSWGs can strive towards for SG Secure? Let me list some areas. One, we should develop contingency and emergency response plans, and conduct emergency preparedness drills in our workplaces to validate our plans. The best plans on paper must be tested, make sure that when things happen, when the button is pushed, people know what to do. Two, we can implement security measures and push to maintain high safety standards. Many of you are working with us on security cameras, on linkages, on hardening of buildings, putting safety measures in place. These things can make a difference and save lives. Three, SSWG members can be trained in the Triangle of Life Skills, namely basic first aid, basic fire fighting and CPR-AED procedures. These skills allow you to help one another in the worst of situations. Whether or not these skills are actually used on the spot, going through the training is a process which gets people thinking, gets people to realise that this is serious. You are doing something, you are learning something, and apart from protecting ourselves because we learn these skills, we are in the position to help others. Four, our SSWGs can help us to spread the SG Secure message. Send the right tone, right from the top. Encourage your colleagues, tenants, security personnel to undergo training under the Community Emergency Preparedness Programme (CEPP) to be equipped as first responders in a crisis before the arrival of Police and SCDF officers. They should also know what to do in an attack and be familiar with the "Run, Hide, Tell" advisory from the Police. We are teaching people how to respond. First, run from the attacker, find cover and hide, and then report. But these advisories, these three words, do not mean anything unless you actuate it, unless you are prepared to use the advisory in a real place. For example, in a workplace, where are the entrances, where are the exits, where are the vulnerable spots, which are the hardened places. People must know what to do.


9.     To further spread the SG Secure messages of vigilance, cohesion and resilience, our Home Team will be working with the SSWGs to implement a series of counter-terrorism seminars customised for different industries. These seminars will be held in the second half of this year. They will address topics such as building security, emergency preparedness and community response in the event of an attack. More details will be made available soon and we look forward to your participation. But let these seminars just be the beginning to put that sense of awareness of what can be done and what needs to be done. Reach out to the rest of the community, to fellow companies, to work with the Police to use the knowledge that has been shared through the seminars. For example, you may feel like there is a vulnerability here or there, or you may think you probably need a bit more training. Or you think you can do with some surveillance here, or your security personnel need to be upskilled because that gives us a better chance. So take these seminars as an opportunity to begin a serious conversation and dialogue that would then lead to action and to implementation. That gives you, your colleagues, your customers, a sense of preparedness and security.


SSWG Awards


10.     This morning, we recognise and honour the efforts of outstanding SSWG members for your proactive implementation of measures to enhance safety and security. Today's award ceremony recognises both individual and cluster-level efforts. This year, we received 169 nominations. All of you have taken concrete steps to better prepare your workplaces against security threats. 

11.     Let me share 2 examples. The first is Concorde Hotel Singapore. It has expanded its Security Checkpoint into a Security Central Command Centre, enabling the automation of security work processes such as access control, using technology to help enhance security. And this year, Concorde Hotel is upgrading the Command Centre so that it can integrate with other hotels in the Asia Pacific under the group. This integration will enable the Centre to serve as a command centre for the hotel's group security operations to monitor any crisis that is occurring in the region and to step up security measures as needed. 

12.     The second is by cluster - the Merlimau Cluster within our chemical industry. The Cluster installed a new Electronic Security Access System with additional access points along Merlimau Place to manage the number of workers and visitors entering its premises. Additional wireless CCTV systems and surveillance cameras were placed along strategic junctions to enhance the refinery's security coverage and surveillance.

13.     I am encouraged by the sharing and adaptation of best practices across various clusters. For example, the Orchard Somerset and Orchard Boulevard clusters have rolled out a joint project to share information amongst its members via a Whatsapp Chat Group known as "Orchard SSWG Channel". We have many Whatsapp groups in our phone, but they have used a popular and common platform to share information because that has reach. This platform allows them to share crime-related information issued by the Orchard NPC, and counter-terrorism media articles. It also allows members to get updates and reports from one another. 

14.     This joint project is worth emulating by other SSWGs. I would like to encourage all of you to explore how you can link up with one another even across different industries to share best practices and information. The Home Team will be glad to facilitate. Such cooperation will strengthen our preparedness in dealing with the terrorism threat. 



15.     This fight against terrorism, preparing for it, responding to it, is not the Government's alone.  We need every citizen in our city as well as all of you, in the business community, to be ever vigilant, to be equipped with skills to know how to respond in times of a terrorist attack. Preparedness saves lives.

16.     Let us continue to work together to create a community where everyone stays alert, stays united and stays strong. 

17.     Once again, congratulations to all our winners, I look forward to working closely with each and every one of you to strengthen SG Secure. 

18.     Thank you.



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Managing Security Threats