Those who are inured to official campaigns or movements may have failed to register the full significance of SGSecure when it was officially launched eight days ago. But it deserves closer attention because SGSecure is not just another government effort to urge the citizenry to achieve important national goals.
Not since Total Defence, launched more than 30 years ago, has there been such a vital, concerted and comprehensive move to mobilise the entire country of one million households. The aim is to help all familiarise and internalise themselves as quickly as possible with the nuts and bolts of a national programme that is here to stay. In fact, SGSecure may be even more significant than Total Defence in one respect: its urgency.
The threat the movement aims to thwart is immediate, hidden, insidious and deadly, namely the scourge of terrorism. What is at stake is the cultural glue that has kept Singapore peaceful and thriving - the secular, multiracial bond among people. SGSecure is unusual for two reasons. First, for the young, there is no reference for the peril to be avoided. Unlike the pioneer generation who survived the Japanese Occupation and race riots, many Singaporeans have known only peace and have no first-hand knowledge of social chaos.
Second, SGSecure aims at fortifying the community after the fact of an incident, via the psychological and cultural "Kevlar" to survive the impact of a terrorist strike. Because terrorism's true danger is the ability to wreak societal havoc in an intensely personal way, it is imperative to make SGSecure's objects a way of life.
Steps to help people stay safe, master basic first aid, maintain neighbourhood solidarity, and alert the authorities if anything is amiss are kept deliberately simple and practical. These must be so because it may well make the difference between buckling under terrorism and beating it.