Law enforcement chiefs of 12 countries share security views

Former US deputy national security adviser Juan Zarate, an expert speaker at the event, says Singapore's efforts to shore up cyber security were uniquely "thoughtful".
Former US deputy national security adviser Juan Zarate, an expert speaker at the event, says Singapore's efforts to shore up cyber security were uniquely "thoughtful".ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Participants of new Home Team Academy course also have dialogue with Shanmugam

Senior law enforcement leaders from around the world gathered in Singapore this week for an inaugural programme on managing emerging security challenges.

The Phoenix International Programme saw 18 law enforcement leaders from 12 countries sharing their views and hearing from nine expert speakers on topics ranging from transnational crime and cyberspace security to terrorism financing.

They also had a dialogue with Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam on Singapore's views on public safety and security.

The four-day, closed-door event at Orchard Hotel Singapore, which concluded yesterday, was conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) Home Team Academy.

It saw participants from countries such as Australia, Canada, Vietnam and Malaysia.

One of the speakers, Mr Juan Zarate, who is the United States' former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, said he gained some insightful perspectives on security challenges.

He said Singapore's efforts to shore up its cyber security, following the massive data breaches in the healthcare sector, were uniquely "thoughtful".

"It's not a knee-jerk reaction... The ability of the authorities to take a step back and reflect on what the strategy and the processing should be, and to do it in a rather methodical way, is pretty unique to Singapore," said Mr Zarate, who now heads a strategic advisory firm.

He noted, however, that the cyber security problems that plagued Singapore's healthcare sector are not unique to the country, as many others have the same issues.

"I think part of the reason we have a conference like this is to share lessons learnt, and also to commiserate with one another about where we all have to do better, and perhaps help one another with best practices," he said.

Mr Zarate gave an overview of the contemporary and emerging global security challenges during the programme.

He said that the world is facing a cyber arms race, where barriers to entry for the bad guys are very low and the authorities need a lot of resources to maintain defence systems.

Assistant Commissioner Ling Young Ern, senior director of MHA's International Cooperation and Partnerships Division, said the course is a good complement to the International Programme on Crisis Leadership that the Home Team Academy also runs.

While that programme focuses on senior command leadership managing major incidents, the Phoenix programme looks at broader safety and security issues, he said.

"They offer excellent opportunities for leadership development and networking at the very senior levels."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'Law enforcement chiefs of 12 countries share security views'. Print Edition | Subscribe