WhyItMatters

Everyone's job to keep Singapore safe

The new nationwide push to get workplaces better prepared for terror attacks is a welcome and vital move. It assures workers, who spend about half their waking hours at work, as well as customers gathering at their favourite eateries or nightspots, that close attention is being paid to their security.

Also, it further protects Singapore's small and open economy. A terrorist attack would severely dent its reputation as a safe country and shake business confidence, which would in turn reduce job opportunities for workers.

The dangers cannot be over-emphasised.

On Tuesday, at the launch of the national SGSecure for Workplaces programme, the Government unveiled a guidebook on important preventive measures companies should put in place. These include raising their staff's awareness of emergency procedures and having risk management plans that take into account terror threats. The Government also identified five priority sectors where it will focus its outreach programme . These are food and beverage, retail, entertainment, hotels and transport.

Companies generally support the new security drive. But small firms may worry about the extra cost of educating their staff and having more security measures like closed-circuit TV cameras.

It would be money well spent as the cost of being unprepared would be far worse. It could include loss of lives and limbs, damage and destruction of property as well as disruption of business operations.

As Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean noted at Tuesday's national security meeting, business leaders would act when they see inefficiencies or unsafe practices at their workplaces because these affect their workers' safety and well-being as well as the company's continuity and reputation.

Preparedness for potential attacks should rank just as highly among their concerns.

With the terrorist threat at its highest level since 2001, security is one area Singapore cannot afford to slip up on. From workers being alert to their surroundings to bosses making security a priority, everyone plays a vital part in keeping Singapore safe.

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Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline 'Everyone's job to keep S'pore safe'. Print Edition | Subscribe