Addenda to President’s address

Plans to boost security in Singapore, preparedness in crises

Security personnel on patrol in Dempsey Road in November last year. Beyond its investments in hardware and capabilities, the Government will also look at ways to strengthen society's resilience - a "key ingredient" in national security, says Deputy P
Security personnel on patrol in Dempsey Road in November last year. Beyond its investments in hardware and capabilities, the Government will also look at ways to strengthen society's resilience - a "key ingredient" in national security, says Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Govt agencies to make better use of technology to fight criminal, terror threats

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Police Force will explore whether to install more surveillance cameras in HDB estates and other public areas to boost its ability to deter and detect criminal and terrorist threats, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said.

The ongoing installation of such police cameras at all 10,000 Housing Board blocks and multi-storey carparks is on track for completion this year.

Measures like these, which make better use of technology, as well as strengthen people's preparedness and ability to respond to a crisis or terror attack, are at the core of the plans by three ministries and the government agency overseeing national security matters, outlined yesterday in addenda to the President's Address.

 

These moves to step up Singapore's security come at a time when terror is a growing threat to the region.

In his ministry's addendum, Mr Shanmugam identified terrorism and transnational and cybercrime as key challenges for his ministry, with traveller and cargo volumes rising even as Singapore's population continues to age.

"While our work will grow in load and complexity, there is a limit to how much we can grow the size of the Home Team, given Singapore's manpower constraints," he said.

"We will have to develop new operating models and concepts, and make better use of technology."

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said his ministry will also invest more in areas such as unmanned systems and robotics, while ensuring that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) develops capabilities against a wider range of threats to national security, such as attacks to Singapore's online space.

"The operating environment for Mindef and the SAF is changing rapidly: Technologies that used to be the domain of professional militaries are becoming cheaper and easier to obtain and used by less advanced militaries and non-state actors," said Dr Ng.

"As our economy and society rely more on technology that allows us to function with ease and efficiency, cyber criminals and attackers have more avenues to disrupt and destabilise Singapore."

PLAY CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE

Singapore must remain relevant and play a constructive role on the global stage. We need a rules-based multilateral world order. This is how we can best protect the sovereignty and security of our tiny city state.

FOREIGN MINISTER VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, in a Facebook post yesterday.

Beyond its investments in hardware and capabilities, the Government will also look at ways to strengthen society's resilience - a "key ingredient" in national security, said Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean.

Mr Teo said the National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS) will continue to work with government agencies and community groups to develop a stronger understanding of the factors that determine how quickly the island can bounce back from a crisis, such as attitudes towards emergencies, social trust and family resilience.

The NSCS will also look at ways in which social media can be better used in an emergency to quickly manage a situation and restore confidence and order, at a time when rumours and disinformation spread through social media may complicate matters.

"In the event of a crisis, it is not just the security agencies that will be called to respond," he said.

"Our society as a whole will also be tested."

The NSCS will also work with agencies such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, Defence Ministry, Infocomm Development Authority, Media Development Authority and the Economic Development Board to develop practical solutions to cyber-security challenges facing Singapore.

Both the SAF and Home Team will also look at ways to improve the national service experience, to strengthen a cornerstone of Singapore's defence and security.

The SAF will expand its Volunteer Corps initiative that gives women, first-generation permanent residents and new citizens a way to contribute to the island's defence, while the Home Team intends to give its NSmen more leadership and specialist roles.

On the diplomatic front, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore will continue to work actively to enhance Asean integration, strengthen relationships with its immediate neighbours like Malaysia and Indonesia, and expand Singapore's international space through constructive participation in forums like the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will expand Singapore's political relations and economic space in new emerging markets in Africa, Central Asia and Latin America, while also expanding its consular outreach as more Singaporeans travel and live abroad.

"With increasing occurrences of natural disasters and other emergencies, MFA will work closely with other government agencies and foreign governments to render consular assistance and ensure the safety of our Singaporeans abroad," said Dr Balakrishnan.


In the pipeline

These are the plans key agencies have to strengthen Singapore's security, diplomacy and economy.

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

• The Singapore Armed Forces will develop new capabilities in areas such as unmanned systems and robotics, as well as capabilities to defend against cyberthreats.

• National service will be strengthened through measures such as gifts for active NSmen who are newly married or have babies, basic life and accident insurance coverage, and vouchers for doing well during training. There will also be an NS Mark accreditation scheme for companies that support NSmen staff.

• There will be a series of NS50 activities to mark the 50th anniversary of NS in 2017.

• Efforts for the SAF Volunteer Corps will be expanded.

• Singapore will work to strengthen the regional security architecture through platforms like the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus Maritime Security and Counter Terrorism Exercise, which it is co-hosting in May.


ST ILLUSTRATION: MIEL

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

• Singapore will continue to deepen bilateral relations with Malaysia, Indonesia, other Asean member states and key partners, and expand Singapore's international space through diplomacy.

• Singapore will use its chairmanship of Asean in 2018 to strengthen the grouping's centrality in the evolving regional architecture.

• New economic opportunities for Singapore firms and Singaporeans will be created through the Asean Economic Community, Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

• Access to new emerging markets in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and Turkey will be expanded through active diplomacy in collaboration with the Republic's economic agencies.

• MFA will expand its engagement of Singaporeans living and working overseas.

MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

• The Immigration andCheckpoints Authority will strengthen border security capabilities.

• Police will complete installation of police cameras at all HDB blocks and multi-storey carparks, and consider having more cameras in housing estates and public areas to deter and detect threats.

• The Home Team will reviewoperations to cope with increasing demands and manpower constraints, using data and technology to deploy officers and equipment.

• Laws will be reviewed to keep them relevant and effective against emerging threats, and public education will be scaled up.

• Cooperation with international organisations will be deepened to counter terrorism, drugs and cybercrime, among other threats.

• Intelligence efforts, operationsand investigations will be better integrated across different Home Team departments.

NATIONAL SECURITY COORDINATION SECRETARIAT

• The "Let's Stand Together"campaign to raise awareness of security issues and prepare people for potential risks will be improved.

• Efforts will be taken to strengthen community vigilance, social cohesion and resilience so that in the event of a crisis such as a terror attack, Singaporeans can bounce back stronger and more united.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'Plans to boost security, preparedness in crises'. Print Edition | Subscribe