President's Address to Parliament: Terrorism threat significantly increased; Singapore fully on guard

Police officers patrolling Changi Airport's Terminal 2 on Aug 8, 2015.
Police officers patrolling Changi Airport's Terminal 2 on Aug 8, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - With the threat from ISIS and terrorism having increased significantly, Singapore has to be prepared for and cannot rule out the possibility of an attack here, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said at the opening of the new 13th Parliament on Friday (Jan 15) night.

Even with the government "fully on guard" against such threats, he called on every Singaporean to play their part in keeping Singapore safe - by rejecting violence, and working to deepen mutual understanding between communities.

"The threat from ISIS and terrorism has increased significantly. Attacks elsewhere have shown that terrorism can arise at home, and not just come from abroad," he said, pointing to Thursday's bomb blasts in Jakarta as a reminder of how close to home terrorism can strike.

 
 
 
 

The Jakarta attacks occurred just two days after a suicide bombing in Istanbul, and on the heels of similar attacks in Paris last November by militants aligned with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

"A terrorist attack here will not only cause death and injury, but could also tear apart our social fabric," Dr Tan said.

Having laid out a clear-eyed picture of the security situation facing Singapore, Dr Tan said it was imperative that Singapore resists the impulse to divert attention and resources away from security as other domestic needs grow.

"Our geopolitical realities remain unchanged from 50 years ago. We must continue to invest in our security and expand our international space through diplomacy," he said.

He added: "If we cannot safeguard our sovereignty, we cannot secure our livelihoods."

The current security climate also highlights the importance of keeping our society united and resilient, and to preserve our multi-racial harmony, he added.

"If we trust and accept one another "regardless of race, language or religion", we will remain strong and united even if others seek to sow fear and division amongst us," said Dr Tan.

yanliang@sph.com.sg