Calls to boost vigilance, social resilience in face of terror threat

Officers from the Emergency Response Team, Tanglin Division and Ground Response Force from Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre securing a public space in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 during a counter- terrorism exercise yesterday.
Officers from the Emergency Response Team, Tanglin Division and Ground Response Force from Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre securing a public space in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 during a counter- terrorism exercise yesterday.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A pair of "terrorists" brandishing revolvers stormed a hawker centre in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 yesterday.

In a counter-terrorism exercise, they "fired" at the crowd, killing four and wounding one before police arrived to kill the attackers, and the Singapore Civil Defence Force attended to casualties.

The exercise was organised by the Toa Payoh West-Balestier constituency's community emergency and engagement committee for Emergency Preparedness Day.

It was planned much earlier, but took place a day after Indonesia arrested six members of a terror cell in Batam, whose leader had been planning an attack on Marina Bay. Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health Chee Hong Tat, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, said thearrests "bring home the point that we have to stay vigilant and be prepared for attacks that will come whether within our shores or from the region around us".

He added that learning the skills to deal with an emergency will make a difference after an attack.

 

Since June, about 1,200 residents in his ward have been trained in first aid skills and cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques, and learnt how to operate an automated external defibrillator as part of SG Secure. They were also taught protocols such as "run, hide, tell" in the event of an attack.

 

Other government leaders also reiterated the need for social resilience and unity at events yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean said everyone can "play an active role to stay alert and prepared". Speaking at a National Day dinner in Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC, he said recent attacks drive home the need to promote religious harmony and counter radical ideology. The Government appreciates the efforts of the Malay-Muslim community and its religious leaders to counter extremist ideas, he said, adding: "We will make sure that Muslims in Singapore continue to be able to lead their lives peacefully and be treated equally and fairly."

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing said Singaporeans "must never let the seeds of suspicion and discord break our society".

Meanwhile, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman, who spoke at an inter-faith dialogue series, said fostering understanding among different communities starts at the basic, everyday level. He cited issues that might arise surrounding day-to-day interactions, such as eating with friends who are fasting or who have dietary restrictions.

Talking about these issues can help people better understand one another's religious observances, he said. "These are things that we take for granted because we think they are not so important, but they have an impact on the kind of relationship that you can build over time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 07, 2016, with the headline 'Calls to boost vigilance, social resilience in face of terror threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe