SINGAPORE - The labour movement and grassroots organisations will work to raise awareness among Singaporeans that should a terror attack happen, they must remain calm, help each other and pull together as a society.
Labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who is also deputy chairman of the People's Association (PA), said this on Sunday when asked by reporters about the response on the ground after last week's announcement that the Internal Security Department had arrested 27 radicalised Bangladeshi workers who were considering armed violence abroad late last year.
Also, the day after any incident, Singaporeans must make sure "we resume life as normally as possible", he said.
"The greatest defeat that the terrorists can ever inflict on Singapore is one, to rob us of our normalcy, and two, to split our society. So long as we maintain our sense of normalcy and hold together as a society, then I think that the terrorists will not find it so easy to defeat Singapore and Singaporeans," he added.
Mr Chan, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was speaking to reporters at the opening of a new facility to help domestic workers at Goldhill Centre in Thomson Road.
He said that since news of the arrests broke, both the NTUC and PA network had gone around to sense the ground response.
They found that there was a heightened awareness among Singaporeans of how serious such security challenges can be, and it was not just the job of the Home Team and Singapore Armed Forces to stay vigilant.
"Many people across all walks of life have now come to realise that this is a very real challenge that we must all tackle together," he said.
But they also found out that by and large, most Singaporeans are calm, yet they also "want to know if there's something that they can do and should do in the unfortunate event something like that happens in Singapore".
This is why going forward, the labour movement and grassroots will reach out to citizens and foreigners to emphasise the need for everyone to stay together and stay united.
This also means it is important to help foreigners working here to feel integrated in local society and address their concerns, so there is no room for any party to exploit any unhappiness they might feel, he added.
"We may come from different backgrounds, we may have our differences, but let it not split us. The greater the challenge, the greater the threat to pull us apart, the greater must be our effort to try to understand each other and then pull together as a society," he said.
The call for unity was also made by several ministers last week, and on Saturday, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said foreigners working here have no reason to fear tough action if they keep to the law, but that the authorities will come down hard should they engage in extremist activity.
Mr Chan was also asked about concrete security measures, and said the Home Affairs Ministry will be announcing these in due course.
The important point, he said, was that everybody feels "we all can play a part in making sure that the terrorists don't defeat us by inflicting fear to disrupt our normalcy or by tearing us apart even without igniting a bomb".
"They can pull us apart if they seed discord, if they sow the seeds of suspicion amongst our different races, languages and religions. So we must never allow seeds of discord, seeds of suspicion to tear us apart even without a bomb going off," he added.