Published: 15 July 2016
Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin,
Commissioner ICA Clarence Yeo,
1. Thank you for coming here today for this opening. I am privileged to open this Protective, Analytical and Assessment Facility, or PAAF. It is a great example of collaboration between a frontline department - ICA and our scientists. It's not something that is usual in many places, so congratulations and thank you.
Threats and Challenges
2. If we needed a reminder of the seriousness of the threat of terror around the world, we got it again this morning from Nice in France. Different methods were used this time, with a truck ploughing into the crowd. It is consistent with something that I have quoted before from ISIS, which is, if you can get a gun, you get a gun. If not, if you can get a rock, you get a rock. If you have a car, you use it to kill people. If you have a building, you get somebody and throw them over. Basically, ISIS is exhorting their followers to commit violence in whichever way they can.
3. We are preparing ourselves. The region is trying to prepare itself. It has happened around the region, even during Ramadan. We've had the first semi-successful attack in Malaysia, after several months of threats. The fact that this region is now very much on their radar is shown by the fact that ISIS now has Malay language videos. It has also launched a Malay-language publication, targeted clearly at the Malay population in peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, the Malay archipelago and the Philippines.
4. Here today, apart from preparing ourselves for what we call conventional attacks, we have to anticipate attacks of a different order of magnitude - chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear. PM, in Washington DC at the Nuclear Security Summit, said a terror attack using nuclear materials from the black market is very plausible and believable. It may only be a question of time. Around the region, countries are planning to and have expressed a desire to obtain nuclear power for peaceful means. But eventually, the systems can leak, and it is possible to get these materials in the black market.
Strong Border Security Essential
5. ICA is in the front and centre in terms of our protective security. The first and most important line in preventing material and people with bad intentions coming through. It is a tough task and I have spoken about it many times. My public position has been that when people complain about the length of time sometimes that it takes to clear immigration, we have to first and foremost look at security. We have to be facilitative but we cannot compromise on security. If everyone wants to travel at a particular time, then it results in a tailback. So people also have to plan, and we will help them plan by putting out the data, but there can be no compromise on security.
6. This facility will allow us to detect security sensitive materials which may come in. Such materials include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials, and early detection allows us to take mitigation measures quickly.
Advanced Border Labs with Radiological and Nuclear Analytical Capability
7. The PAAF comprises a suite of advanced border laboratories, with a range of analytical capabilities. In addition, there is also an assessment centre, which can hold two 45-foot trucks for inspection. The centre has been designed in a way where it can be used to test out new technology, and to house larger equipment. It thus advances our capabilities in a significant way.
8. As technology keeps changing, we have to keep in tandem with that and at the same time, it is only useful if our officers are trained and in the highest state of readiness. So we will emphasise on the training.
9. The fact that we are opening this facility now shows a considerable degree of planning much earlier. It is not because of Paris last year, or Nice this morning. It shows the strength of the planning and foresight in thinking ahead. This took some years and is coming onstream at a time when I think it is most critically needed. So I thank the people who worked on it, it is a great effort and it helps Singaporeans feel that much more secure.
10. It is my privilege to open it. Thank you.