Putting public safety first a counter to terror

The Emergency Response Team during their patrol outside the Esplanade's outdoor theatre on July 22.
The Emergency Response Team during their patrol outside the Esplanade's outdoor theatre on July 22. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The new Emergency Response Teams' presence in public places is, indeed, a positive step towards keeping individuals with dubious intentions at bay ("Efforts to fight terrorism 'must involve every Singaporean'"; last Saturday).

A terrorist attack does not happen out of the blue.

It requires expert planning - which includes factoring in the place and time of attack, the availability of weapons - and recruits.

The bedrock of terrorism is radicalism - in the name of race, religion, language and ethnicity.

The misconceived belief that suicide attacks are noble, together with the perception of injustice and broken-down law and order, forms a conducive environment for radicalism.

The highly sophisticated persuasion techniques used by extremist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria remain a serious threat.

Arguably, terrorism is global and religion is a convenient tool to help recruits overcome the fear of death and the fear of committing atrocities.

The rhetoric routinely delivered by radicalised individuals reflects the minds of their "masters" rather than what religion stands for, which is to propagate peace.

We are relatively safe in Singapore, as all religions and ethnic communities are accorded equal respect, protection and opportunities to thrive.

The Government is determined to put public security and safety first even as it safeguards the rights of race, religion, language and ethnicity. Countering terrorism is indeed a "national project" that must involve the public.

The threat of terrorism is real. Greater awareness and consciousness that public safety and security must be of paramount importance will, without doubt, pave the way for the people to remain united, regardless of race, language, religion, gender or sexuality.

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Putting public safety first a counter to terror'. Print Edition | Subscribe