Act that expands police powers comes into force on May 16

The Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act will give the police expanded powers, including the ability to withdraw telecomms services and compel building owners and civilians to assist the Singapore Police Force.
The Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act will give the police expanded powers, including the ability to withdraw telecomms services and compel building owners and civilians to assist the Singapore Police Force.PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - The new law that gives the police more powers to deal with serious incidents, like terrorist threats, will come into force on Wednesday (May 16), two months after it was passed in Parliament.

The Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act will "equip the police with powers to be able to respond swiftly and effectively to attacks of any scale and of varying tactics, and minimise the chances that their security operations are compromised", said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a press release on Tuesday.

It added that Singapore continues to face the threat of terrorism from home-grown radicalised individuals and foreign terrorists.

MHA said that activating the Bill's powers involves two steps. First, the Home Affairs Minister must authorise their use. Second, the Commissioner of Police must unlock each special power only when he thinks the situation needs it.

Expanded powers include being ableto take down or disable drones, withdraw telecomms services, and compel building owners and civilians to assist the Singapore Police Force.

It also allows the police to issue an order to stop people, including the media, from communicating information that can compromise operations.

Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo told Parliament in March that the special powers will not be used for day-to-day policing, but only for specified incidents like a terrorist attack or large-scale public disorder.

"Once the threshold of a serious incident is crossed, we must give the police sufficient latitude to act decisively," she said.