Here's drill if terrorists strike at Gek Poh mall

Officers from the Emergency Response Team taking control of Gek Poh Shopping Centre after it was “attacked”.
Officers from the Emergency Response Team taking control of Gek Poh Shopping Centre after it was “attacked”. ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

MP recalls how Londoners were prepared for bomb threats in her student days in late '90s

After watching a mock terrorist attack yesterday morning with Hong Kah North residents, MP Amy Khor repeated the message of preparedness, relating her experience of living with terror alerts.

She was a doctorate student in London in the late 1990s when the threat of an attack was real.

Between 1996 and 1997, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated at least three bombs in the capital city.

Dr Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources and Health, said when there was an alarm in a train station, commuters would leave quickly but in an orderly way.

She told residents at Gek Poh Ville Community Club that Londoners were "mentally prepared".

Speaking to The Straits Times later, she said: "In the late '90s, on the day I was submitting my PhD thesis, King's Cross Station was locked down.

"In London, they had quite a bit of experience on the possibility of bombs (due to the IRA) so people were a lot more aware.

"You don't see panic. You see people walking very briskly and filtering out."

Residents yesterday witnessed two "armed terrorists" attack Gek Poh Shopping Centre.

As they traded "fire" with police officers from the Emergency Response Team, a commentator gave a blow-by-blow account of what residents should do in a similar scenario. Residents should run to safety and hide before calling for help, he said.

And if there are injured people, they should offer first aid before paramedics arrive.

The event, which had an SGSecure element, was jointly organised by the People's Association, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, in conjunction withTotal Defence Day.

About 1,000 people attended the event where they learnt the importance of staying vigilant, and received coaching in fire-fighting and first aid.

Dr Khor said: "No country is immune from the possibility of such attacks. It's really important that we mobilise and educate our residents on the need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to prevent or avert a terrorist attack."

Madam Yuna Durairah Abdul Rahman, 37, took part in the Community Emergency Preparedness Programme to pick up skills in basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of the automated external defibrillator.

At the National Gallery Singapore, teenagers presented the message of Total Defence through the use of animation.

The students had participated in N.E. mation! 11, a digital animation competition organised by Nexus, the Ministry of Defence department responsible for Total Defence and National Education.

This year's theme was Together We Keep Singapore Strong, and MADEit, the team from Cedar Girls' Secondary School,topped the 10 finalists from 760 entries.

Guest of honour, Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education Janil Puthucheary, praised the students' work.

He said when he was a secondary school student, such things were done by companies like Lucasfilm.

"And now they've become expected normal skills that we're hoping our secondary school students will pick up," Dr Puthucheary said.

MADEit's one-minute clip, called Our SG Dollar, features familiar images on Singapore dollar notes coming to life.

The team won a sponsored overseas learning visit to a renowned animation studio worth more than $20,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'Here's drill if terrorists strike at Gek Poh mall'. Print Edition | Subscribe