Public, private and people sectors must collaborate to deal with threats, Iswaran says

When dealing with the threats of today, the government's efforts alone are not enough, Second Minister for Home Affairs and for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said on Monday.

Stakeholders such as the people and the private sectors also have to be on board, he added.

Speaking at the opening of the eighth annual Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers today, Mr Iswaran highlighted three types of threats faced by governments today: Those that cross borders, can develop quickly, and are difficult to resolve. Examples include terrorism, cyber warfare and epidemics.

"It is not enough for a government or a nation to manage these threats alone - we have to work with others, collaborating within and beyond our borders, to prevent these risks from materialising," he said. "And in the event that they do, to respond, recover and adapt effectively."

The public, for example, can be vigilant against such threats and come together in a time of crisis to help rebuild the country. The private sector also has to work with the government to strengthen critical infrastructure that may be privately owned, said Mr Iswaran.

Thus, there has to be "a mindset shift" and an acknowledgement by all stakeholders that today's complicated threats cannot be totally eliminated, but "managed and maintained at acceptable levels", said Mr Barry Desker, the dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies which is organising the event.

The concept of resilience - that national security has to evolve beyond traditional military capability - is the theme of this year's event. Over the next five days, 65 senior national security practitioners, policymakers and academics from 26 countries will exchange ideas through a series of expert panels and lectures.

yanliang@sph.com.sg

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