Hotels step up security against terror threat

Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa has since the start of the year made it mandatory to conduct emergency drills every month, said Mr Winston Wong, its director of security.
Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa has since the start of the year made it mandatory to conduct emergency drills every month, said Mr Winston Wong, its director of security.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ SHANGRI-LA'S RASA SENTOSA RESORT & SPA

Staff involved in more drills, patrols, training to deal with wider range of emergencies

On Feb 24, Mr Jegathesvaran Ganasegaran was alerted that a boat had ventured close to Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa.

The hotel's assistant security manager was immediately concerned. It was the first time in his four years there that something like that had happened.

"I suspected it could be carrying illegal immigrants or it could be part of a terrorist attack," he said.

He immediately went to check and called the Police Coast Guard. It turned out that the men on board were surveying the shallow waters near the shore.

For his vigilance, Mr Jegathesvaran was yesterday presented with an accolade at the Annual Hotel Security Awards which honours hotels for attaining high security standards and security officers for acts of honesty, bravery or vigilance.

The ceremony comes as hotels and malls are paying more attention to security measures following recent terrorist incidents in the region. For instance, ISIS launched its first attack in Malaysia in June when two men threw a grenade into a nightspot in Puchong, Selangor, injuring eight people.

Mr Steve Tan, executive secretary for the security employees union told The Straits Times that hotels and other building owners have stepped up security over the past few years. But in the last 12 months, these preparations have increased further as "the terror threat has moved closer to home".

"For example, in the past, people may not have prepared for an improvised explosive device scenario, but now this is not out of the question," he said.

Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa has since the start of the year made it mandatory to conduct emergency drills every month, said Mr Winston Wong, its director of security.

The hotel has made it mandatory to activate the "panic alarm" at least twice a month to see how the hotel's emergency team reacts. Twice a year, it also places a suspicious-looking bag or parcel on its premises to test staff response.

Mr Ragupathy Paramasivam, security and fire safety manager at Sheraton Towers Singapore, said the hotel has upgraded its CCTV camera surveillance system. Since early this year, the hotel has also started sending all its security staff for a course on how to handle terrorism-linked incidents.

Mr Mohd Hamzah, security manager at Parkroyal in Beach Road, said the hotel has expanded the presence of security officers in its premises.

Commercial building owners also said they had stepped up security.

At China Square Central and 55 Market Street, security patrols during peak hours in crowded areas have been increased in the last year, said Frasers Commercial Trust, which owns the buildings.

Far East Organization, which owns Clarke Quay Central, Orchard Central and Far East Square, said that it started a programme last year to train key staff members at these properties in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of automated external defibrillators.

The police said the Public Transport Security Command (Transcom) has increased frontline patrol resources and checks on suspicious persons at public transport nodes to prevent, deter and detect crime.

• Additional reporting by Nadia Chevroulet

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'Hotels step up security against terror threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe