SINGAPORE - Downloading the SGSecure mobile application is a must for Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel, Mindef has said, after disgruntled national servicemen complained they were forced to download it.
The national servicemen wrote in app reviews that they were made to download the app, and many of them rated the app poorly along with their complaints.
The download is part of a counter-terrorism training programme being implemented in phases, Mindef said in a statement on Friday (July 28).
"In the first phase, Mindef/SAF personnel are required to download the SGSecure mobile application and complete the e-learning modules embedded within," said the statement.
"Subsequently, Mindef/SAF personnel will be put through scenario-based community response training, to provide them with the knowledge to protect themselves and those around them in the event of a terror attack."
Screenshots of bad reviews left on the app have been circulating on social media this week. The app, which has 101 reviews as of noon on Saturday, is rated 1.5 out of 5 stars on the Apple App Store.
One review by a person who used the username "Forced NPCO" rated the app 1 out of 5 stars and said: "The management of SPF forced their officers to download, or be blacklisted, no consumption of leave and have your team leader nagging you 24/7 until you download on your phone."
Another person named Twig Ng wrote: "Later during morning RO, my Encik will check if everyone downloaded this app. No download no bookout."
Mindef said the counter-terrorism training programme, which applies to all Mindef and SAF personnel, is to better equip its personnel to be prepared citizens and active responders in the event of a terrorist attack, in line with the stepping up of Singapore's national counter-terrorism efforts.
"Global and regional terror threats are persistent and long-term issues that should not be taken lightly," said Mindef in its statement. "Singapore is just as susceptible to these threats as any other country."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Straits Times that it encourages everyone to download the app, including Home Team officers and national servicemen.
"The SGSecure mobile app allows members of public to download useful information on counter-terrorism, and to receive alerts in the event of major emergencies and terror incidents in Singapore," said MHA in its statement. "It also allows the public to send information to the police via text, pictures or videos."
A platoon sergeant, declining to be named, told ST that he and his fellow commanders were told a few weeks ago to instruct his men to download the SGSecure mobile app after they booked out of camp, and to ensure they had done so.
He said he was not asked to issue potential punishment if his subordinates did not do so when they returned back to camp.
He did not know that the app contained counter-terrorism training material nor that there were e-learning modules he had to complete and is unsure whether the online reviewers of the app were unaware too.
The sergeant, 20, who has about 40 men under him, said the reviewers may also have misunderstood their own commanders, who could have been joking about the punishment.
Additional reporting by Clement Yong and Jose Hong