Commit to maintaining cohesion and normalcy after an attack: Chan Chun Sing

ST VIDEO: JOANNA SEOW
Simulated terrorist incident at Holland Village on Saturday (July 15).
Simulated terrorist incident at Holland Village on Saturday (July 15). ST PHOTO: JOANNA SEOW

SINGAPORE - Singapore's security agencies can contain terrorist incidents but residents have a crucial role to play as well, in ensuring social cohesion and carrying on with their lives, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (July 15).

The threat of radicalisation and terrorist attacks in the region has heightened a lot over the last few months, with Singapore making several arrests, he said.

"But it's not just about arresting people, the most important thing that we must do now is to make sure our community does not get split up by people trying to do us harm," said Mr Chan, who is deputy chairman of the People's Association (PA).

Speaking after a simulated terrorist attack at Lorong Mambong in Holland Village, he said that if a terrorist incident were to happen, Singaporeans must commit to living life normally and taking care of each other.

"If something happens here and we start looking at each other suspiciously because we are from a different race, language, religion or background, then we would have failed, and the terrorists would have succeeded," he said.

Mr Chan was speaking at the launch of the SGSecure Pledge, the latest initiative under the SGSecure movement, which was launched last year to help prepare Singaporeans for a terrorist attack.

Under the initiative, residents are encouraged to pledge to support the SGSecure movement in a number of ways, such as staying alert and reporting suspicious activity or behaviour to the police, helping to maintain social cohesion and harmony, learning life-saving skills, or volunteering as a first-aider or counsellor during a crisis.

The pledge details from each constituency will be kept in a Community Resource Directory so that residents can be contacted when their services are needed.

Since June this year, over 500 Tanjong Pagar GRC residents have signed the pledge in the pilot phase of the initiative.

From Saturday (July 15), members of the public can make a pledge online at www.pa.gov.sg/sgsecure_pledge or use hardcopy forms at any community club.

Mr Chan said the aim is to get people thinking about what they can do immediately after a terrorist attack, whether it is through spreading positive messages of harmony or looking after a neighbour who is afraid.

"We don't want anyone to feel helpless...actually each and every one of us can do something the day after," he said.

Among those who have signed the pledge are Ms Sowmya Iyer, 19, who is waiting to enter university, and her family.

Ms Iyer volunteered to offer first aid in an emergency as she learnt first aid skills in school.

"Younger people tend to be out more in public spaces which are more prone to attacks, but not many are trained in first aid. It's important for us to be able to respond," she said.

Her mother Mrs Yamuna Iyer, 49, a businesswoman, added that it is important to get to know neighbours as well, "so that as a community we can come together in case of any incident".