Financial industry urged to be alert to terror threat

Developers, banks and other companies from the financial industry were yesterday urged to step up security given the current terror threat.

They can do this by reviewing and enhancing security measures such as CCTV and access control systems, and putting in place emergency response plans so that their staff know how to act in crises, said Deputy Commissioner (Policy) Lim Kok Thai.

"While the Government and the security agencies help put in place measures to guard against attacks... our efforts alone will not be enough," he said at a counterterrorism seminar organised by the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force yesterday at the NTUC Centre in the Central Business District (CBD).

Attended by more than 400 members of the financial industry, the seminar is the second in a series of seven, being held this year and the next, for the private sector. It is an initiative under the SG Secure national movement, which aims to get people to be aware of their security, and stresses the importance of staying united in the event of a terror attack.

Mr Lim said the financial sector was an attractive target for terrorists as an attack will not only cause the loss of lives and psychological damage, but also have a knock-on impact and economic damage on other sectors of the country. He pointed to a poll of 500 people conducted by The Sunday Times earlier this year, where more than 200 said the financial district would be a likely target for terrorists.

Among the security measures suggested at the seminar was to train cleaners and other non-security staff to act as eyes and ears to spot suspicious items or people.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Arthur Law said most building owners in the CBD already have security measures, but could work on improving their emergency response plans.

"In terms of infrastructure, they can harden their defences, but when there is an attack, the staff must know what to do," said DAC Law, who is also commander of the police's Central Division.

Some companies such as Kingston Property Maintenance Services, owned by Hong Leong Holdings, are in the midst of developing counterterrorism response plans, said its manager Chan Seck Sung. The company manages 15 buildings here, including three in the CBD. Mrs Ong-Ang Ai Boon, director of the Association of Banks in Singapore, said the association of over 160 members has been working with government agencies and holding biannual exercises so firms can test their contingency plans. She said: "Our priority is to ensure the safety of our staff and customers as well as to recover essential banking services in the time of any attack."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2016, with the headline 'Financial industry urged to be alert to terror threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe