Debate on ministries’ budgets

Accreditation scheme to help religious groups prepare for crisis

Culture, Community And Youth Minister Grace Fu
Culture, Community And Youth Minister Grace Fu

A voluntary accreditation scheme to prepare religious organisations to handle a crisis - such as a terrorist attack on their premises or in the vicinity - will be rolled out by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), its minister Grace Fu said in Parliament yesterday.

Called the SGSecure Community Network Crisis Preparedness Accreditation Scheme, it will be launched in the second half of the year.

The scheme will require religious organisations to use a tool-kit to self-assess their readiness in areas such as crisis communication, security infrastructure and emergency-preparedness.

Members of religious organisations can also undergo training to pick up emergency response skills such as improvised first aid and the use of automated external defibrillators.

The scheme will also require the faith groups to conduct regular crisis-response exercises.

Ms Fu said: "We urge religious organisations to come on board as we work hand in hand to ensure Singapore remains safe and united in the face of future crises."

The scheme is a follow-up to MCCY's ongoing work in partnership with Home Team agencies to prepare more than 800 religious and community leaders from more than 300 religious organisations to build their capacity in crisis response through counter-terrorism seminars and exercises.

 
 

MCCY noted that the terrorism threat to Singapore remains high, and the Republic continues to face the threat of individuals becoming radicalised by terrorist propaganda. It cited the Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report, released in January, which found that only one in five Singaporeans feels that an attack is imminent, even though many recognise that Singapore is a target of terrorists.

MCCY said it is thus vital that crisis response plans are developed now and not when an incident actually occurs, especially since religious organisations, which are soft targets for terrorist acts, have been targeted in the region.

The ministry added that some religious organisations also provide social services, such as childcare, and conduct community events on their premises.

Bishop Terry Kee, head of the Lutheran Church in Singapore, said: "It is a good thing to have trained personnel, in every religious place, to have knowledge on what to do and how to respond if such an incident occurs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'Accreditation scheme to help religious groups prepare for crisis'. Print Edition | Subscribe