International conference showcases Singapore's counter-terrorism efforts

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin speaking at the inaugural Police Specialist Conference yesterday. Law enforcement representatives from 13 countries will discuss policing issues during the three-day meet.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin speaking at the inaugural Police Specialist Conference yesterday. Law enforcement representatives from 13 countries will discuss policing issues during the three-day meet.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Singapore's counter-terrorism training facilities and programmes may pose interesting learning points for Belgium, said the country's police intelligence unit head.

First Commissioner Jean-Pierre Devos was on duty at the Brussels Airport in March 2016 and helped victims after suicide bombers Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui struck in the departure hall, killing 16 people.

He is in Singapore, along with other law enforcement representatives from 13 countries, for the inaugural Police Specialist Conference.

Yesterday, they toured the Home Team Tactical Centre in Mandai. They will visit the Police Coast Guard's Brani base tomorrow.

Stressing the need for the authorities to be prepared for terror attacks, First Commissioner Devos told reporters: "Maybe we can implement such infrastructure and training (back home) to improve our skills. That's the key thing for these three days in Singapore."

The three-day conference, organised by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), was launched yesterday by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin at the Amara Hotel.

In his speech, Mr Amrin noted that the nature of terrorism is evolving, with terrorists attacking soft targets like places of worship, theatres and parks - anywhere that people gather.

"They want to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. The focus is on causing bloodshed and mayhem. And not just bombs and guns; they are also using everyday objects like vehicles and knives."

He added that Singapore's national counter-terrorism strategy includes promoting international and intelligence cooperation, and developing a robust security response in the event of an attack, such as the police Emergency Response Teams and In-Situ Reaction Teams.

During the conference, delegates from countries including Belgium, France, Germany and the United States will exchange views and information on policing issues, and discuss topics such as enhancing international cooperation in combating terrorism.

First Commissioner Devos is one of six guest speakers from foreign police and military units who will share their experiences of dealing with terrorism.

The veteran policeman, with more than three decades of experience, said: "You train a lot, but my experience was that reality is a little bit different. That does not mean you don't have to train."

Assistant Commissioner Arthur Law, deputy director of the SPF Operations Department, said the conference allows specialist units around the world to exchange ideas.

"To us, prevention is one of the key pillars in counter-terrorism. In order to do that, we need to establish an international community of partners, where we can come together and share ideas, information and intelligence," he added.

"With this, we will be able to foil terror plots, which we have done so over the years."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline 'International conference showcases S'pore's counter-terrorism efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe