Why It Matters

'Tis the season to stay alert

Singaporeans may be getting ready to let their hair down as the year draws to a close, but they should still keep their guard up for possible terror threats.

Terrorists in the region have long chosen to strike during the festive season.

On Christmas Eve in 2000, terror group Jemaah Islamiah planned a series of coordinated bombings in Jakarta and several other cities across Indonesia, including in Batam, killing some 20 people in all.

A major raid in Indonesia in December 2013 foiled plans by terrorists to blow themselves up on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

And in January this year, bomb blasts in Jakarta killed eight people. Before this particular attack, the Indonesian authorities had learnt of plans for a terror strike and arrested several individuals but could not stop the Jakarta bombing.

Now, there has been a similar rise in terrorism-related arrests in Indonesia, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said last Friday.

Such news so close to home is worrying as Singapore is considered a high-value target by terrorists. Just this August, six men were arrested in Batam for plotting to fire rockets at Marina Bay.

Security agencies here are, no doubt, doing all they can to keep the country safe.

But Singaporeans also have to do their part.

The Government is encouraging citizen vigilance and launched SGSecure in September to increase people's preparedness and resilience in a crisis.

The Shoppers-On-Watch programme, which started as a crime-prevention initiative in Orchard Road, was expanded to the heartland last Saturday.

Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo urged shoppers to keep their eyes open for suspicious behaviour and signs of terrorist activities.

The success of such movements depends on the active participation of Singaporeans. Everything from small actions, such as downloading the SGSecure app that can be used to alert the police to incidents, to bigger commitments, such as signing up to learn how to use emergency equipment, can make a difference in ensuring a peaceful start to 2017.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2016, with the headline ''Tis the season to stay alert'. Print Edition | Subscribe