Mental resilience a vital defence in terror fight

Police officers patrolling at Little India on Dec 9, 2013.
Police officers patrolling at Little India on Dec 9, 2013.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

It was heartening to read that Singapore has been named the friendliest destination for Muslim travellers among non-Muslim countries for the fourth year in a row ("S'pore is tops with Muslim travellers"; yesterday).

This underscores the efforts by the Government to encourage diversity and welcome people of all races and religions to Singapore.

Similarly, within the country, people of all races and religions are encouraged to be tolerant and to assimilate into our holistic community.

These efforts take special relevance in the face of the devastating attacks in Brussels on Tuesday ("Brussels airport, subway hit by blasts; dozens dead"; Wednesday).

As much as we promote religious and racial diversity, it is inevitable that a deviant and fractious minority will emerge. This threat is both from within and without the country.

As a Singaporean, I am glad that the Government has spared no effort or money to ensure that Singapore remains a safe place to live and work in.

Although the emergence of closed-circuit television cameras at HDB blocks, multi-storey carparks and critical roads has raised some concern about privacy, the gravity of terror attacks in Brussels, Paris and Jakarta has made these installations not only necessary but also vital to our defence.

In recent days, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam has reminded us that we need to develop psychological defence against such unwarranted and unexpected incursions into our space ("Major ramp-up in security in face of mounting ISIS threat"; last Saturday).

This means we need to build up a mental resilience and shield, so that we can pick ourselves up, dust the dirt off and move forward, in the event of an attack.

The business and financial landscape should also be fortified with a strong sense of resilience, such that the economy will not be crippled, should an attack happen.

We need to bounce back quickly and move forward. Otherwise, the perpetrators would have won. We need to show that extremists may dent us physically, albeit temporarily, but they cannot bend our mental resilience.

S. Kumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Mental resilience a vital defence in terror fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe