Stronger security for NDP; terrorism a long-term problem: Ng Eng Hen

Singaporeans must also be prepared and remain united, said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen.
Singaporeans must also be prepared and remain united, said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - For this year's National Day Parade (NDP), Singapore has stepped up its defences against the threat of terrorism, with stronger security on land, air and sea, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at his visit to parade preparations on Monday (Aug 8), a day before the event.

"This threat from terrorism is a long-term one and... there will be successive waves, and we have to understand this if we are to be able to respond," he said, citing the examples of Al-Qaeda and now, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). After ISIS, he said, the country should expect subsequent threats.

“If we allow them to do any of these, then I say they have already won,” he added of the terrorists.

Dr Ng was speaking to reporters at the National Stadium. It is the first time in 10 years that the parade and show will return to Kallang.

His remarks come after the Indonesian authorities arrested members of a terror cell in Batam, whose leader had been planning a rocket attack on Marina Bay together with ISIS militant Bahrun Naim.

"We have to be alert and successful all the time but terrorists have to succeed only once," he said.

Dr Ng added that "intelligence is key" in the fight against terrorism, as personnel cannot be everywhere and constantly on high alert as "it is not sustainable".

Singaporeans must also be prepared and remain united, he said. In the event of a terror attack, it should not paralyse daily activities or sow discord between communities, or the terrorists would have won, he added.

At the stadium on Monday, Dr Ng visited a Command and Control Group, which does coordination for security and contingency operations. He also spoke with personnel from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosive Defence Group.

Dr Ng elaborated on how security measures will be tightened for the parade, with a special gazetted area around its venue.

This means the National Stadium and areas around the sports hub are designated as a special event area, with police having the power to search and conduct checks on people for prohibited items.

He added that besides increasing checks on vessels, the Navy and police coast guard will increase their numbers out at sea.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has, too, introduced no entry zones and no anchoring zones at certain areas for the duration of the NDP. There will also be preparations against possible aerial attacks.

Going forward, he said there will be more Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) exercises in urban settings, be it in areas such as Marina Bay, Robertson Quay or crowded places like VivoCity.

While the SAF and Ministry of Defence will do their utmost for Singaporeans and are constantly monitoring terror tactics, they need citizens' full support as well, he added, referring to SG Secure which will be launched next month.

SG Secure aims to mobilise Singaporeans to be more conscious of security, respond to a terror attack and stay united after it.

With this support, he said, he is confident that Singapore will be able to overcome terror threats.