Terrorists increasingly attacking 'soft targets'

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin (left) and Mr Victor Kwan, Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Emergency and Engagement Committee chairman, at the My Community, My Responsibility exhibition outside Joo Chiat Complex yesterday.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin (left) and Mr Victor Kwan, Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Emergency and Engagement Committee chairman, at the My Community, My Responsibility exhibition outside Joo Chiat Complex yesterday.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Singaporeans must be 'physically, socially, emotionally and psychologically' prepared

Singaporeans have to be "physically, socially, emotionally and psychologically" prepared if and when a terror attack hits the country.

This includes not just knowing how to act in an emergency situation, but to be ready to stand against the pressures that could be placed on the country's social fabric, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of an exhibition, My Community, My Responsibility, Mr Tan highlighted how terrorists have increasingly been attacking "soft targets" where people live, work and play - pointing to the recent bombings in Paris and Jakarta.

He said terror groups are taking aim at the heartlands, because "I think that's where psychological fear and terror is the greatest, because that's where you feel the most vulnerable, because that's where you are in your everyday life".

The exhibition planned by the People's Association (PA) Community Emergency and Engagement Committee Executive Council and held outside Joo Chiat Complex tries to give visitors a first-hand experience of how a community crisis - such as haze, a fire or a terror attack - may disrupt daily lives.

THE HEART OF EVERYDAY LIFE

I think that's where psychological fear and terror is the greatest, because that's where you feel the most vulnerable, because that's where you are in your everyday life.

MR TAN CHUAN-JIN, Minister for Social and Family Development, on why terror groups are taking aim at the heartlands.

It encourages them to think about how they would feel in different emergency situations.

The exhibition, which aims to be "immersive" by allowing participants to role-play, also features advice such as how to react to suspicious behaviour - "take note of the person's gender, height, attire and what they are carrying" - to share information from reliable sources, and get to know neighbours well.

More such exhibitions will be held at other constituencies, said a PA spokesman.

Mr Tan, who is also the adviser to Kembangan-Chai Chee GRC grassroots organisations, urged more people to take part in emergency preparedness events.

At a separate event yesterday to mark the completion of upgrading works at the Sultan Mosque, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim was asked by a reporter to comment on how to remain vigilant and prevent attacks like the one that happened in Jakarta from taking place here.

"It is unfortunate, but these incidents are now coming very close to the region and therefore we have to be on the lookout," Dr Yaacob replied.

Referring to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address to Parliament on Friday, when he called on Singaporeans to reject violence and work to deepen mutual understanding between communities, he said: "But more importantly, as what was mentioned by our President, I think we have to continue to work hard and maintain the racial harmony and social integration we have achieved so far.

"That is something which is precious to us, in fact I would say that that is what distinguishes us from other societies... so we must not allow any event to break us apart...

"I think the various faith communities, our brothers, both Muslims and non-Muslims, have in the last 12 to 15 years been working very hard to bring our communities together.

"We have to continue to reinforce the message and do our part to make sure that we remain close."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 17, 2016, with the headline 'Terrorists increasingly attacking 'soft targets''. Print Edition | Subscribe