Singaporeans urged to be more security conscious

DPM Teo Chee Hean and Third Sergeant Chia Yong Guan, a 38-year-old security trooper, at an observation tower on Jurong Island yesterday. Mr Teo was visiting citizen soldiers deployed to patrol Jurong Island, the main location for the country's petroc
DPM Teo Chee Hean and Third Sergeant Chia Yong Guan, a 38-year-old security trooper, at an observation tower on Jurong Island yesterday. Mr Teo was visiting citizen soldiers deployed to patrol Jurong Island, the main location for the country's petrochemical industry.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Security agencies will work over the next few months to raise awareness of threats: DPM

Even though Singapore's security agencies will continue to watch over the Republic's key installations, they cannot be everywhere to protect the "soft targets" that terrorists are increasingly eyeing, like schools and shopping centres.

Singaporeans themselves must be more "security conscious" and aware of the threats to look out for, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. In the event of a terror attack, they should know how to protect themselves and their loved ones.

He said during a visit to a key installation yesterday that security agencies here will work together over the next few months to heighten Singaporeans' awareness of threats.

Their timely response can help contain or mitigate the consequences of an attack, reducing the damage and casualties, he told reporters yesterday, after visiting citizen soldiers deployed to patrol Jurong Island, the main location for the country's petrochemical industry.

"These are important critical moments, sometimes even before the security forces can arrive," added Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security.

With recent attacks in innocuous places such as outside a Jakarta cafe and inside a Parisian threatre, Mr Teo urged Singaporeans to "expect the unexpected" and be prepared.

"The realisation that such a threat exists is already quite widespread in Singapore. But we want people to understand the nature of the threat and how it can affect them even in their daily lives, when they least expect it," said Mr Teo.

He was accompanied yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung, army chief Melvyn Ong and senior army officers.

The operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) from the 811th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, are among troops who have patrolled the Republic's key installations round the clock since 2001. Other places include Changi Airport and Sembawang Wharves.

Mr Teo's comments come in the wake of fresh warnings about possible terror plots that may be launched in South-east Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. On Sunday, the Australian government issued a new travel advisory warning its citizens that terrorist attacks may take place in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Yesterday, the Saudi government alerted the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs about plans by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to hijack or bomb a Saudi Arabian airplane heading to and from Manila.

DPM Teo said Singapore, which is already operating at a reasonably high level of alert, is monitoring the situation and also gets intelligence reports and information about terror threats. Singapore stepped up security measures at its borders and military camps after last November's Paris attacks.

Adding that the nation takes such reports and information seriously, Mr Teo said: "There is a heightened threat not just in South-east Asia but around the world of terrorist attacks.

"That's why I think it's important that Singaporeans become more aware of what we can do if we are caught up in such a situation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'S'poreans urged to be more security conscious'. Print Edition | Subscribe