WhyItMatters

Do your bit in anti-terror effort

Singaporeans know that the terror threat facing the country is a grave and present one. A Sunday Times poll of 500 people last week found that 75 per cent felt an attack here was inevitable.

The Government has been sounding the alarm for some time, so this is encouraging. Earlier this month, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the threat was at its highest level in decades.

The poll showed that most Singaporeans get the message and are not taking security for granted.

But it also highlighted the fact that many feel we have some way to go to develop the resilience necessary to weather any blow. About 35 per cent felt that Singapore is unprepared, while 40 per cent thought that there is nothing they can do to guard themselves or their loved ones.

More than 10 per cent were unaware of the attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Belgian capital of Brussels last week, which left 35 dead and more than 300 injured.

How society will react to an attack if it happens here is unknown. Singapore has stayed safe over the years even as its closest neighbours grappled with bombings in their cities. A culture of complacency has set in that people must break out of.

For a start, there needs to be even greater community awareness of the terror threat, and people need to equip themselves with the necessary skills - such as first aid or basic firefighting - to work together and survive an attack.

The worst outcome of an attack is for religious divisions to fracture society. This is happening in Brussels, where Islamophobia has led to protests.

SG Secure, a government initiative to be launched this year, will organise and train people to guard against attacks, and maintain social harmony in the aftermath.

It will go some way to help. But Singaporeans have to play their part too.

At the minimum, they should stay abreast of developments in terrorism. If they can, also seek out and learn life-saving skills.

In a time of crisis, that could make all the difference.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Do your bit in anti-terror effort '. Print Edition | Subscribe