SINGAPORE - The police will spare no efforts in securing the Marina Bay area as well as other popular spots in Singapore where merrymakers plan to enjoy the festive season, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam just as the country prepares to usher in the new year.
Speaking at the sidelines of a constituency event in Yishun to celebrate the New Year on Sunday (Dec 31), Mr Shanmugam said: "We have a very high level of security measures."
He noted that various types of officers, such as regular officers, full-time national servicemen and volunteer constables, had been deployed throughout the holiday period to keep the nation safe.
Thousands of officers are on higher alert, said Mr Shanmugam. "We are taking this very seriously."
Besides manpower, technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), CCTVs and enhanced police cameras fitted with speakers and lights, is being used at the countdown.
The police's new UAV - with its sirens, camera and speakers - took to the skies for the first time at the Marina Bay countdown.
Security measures must be comprehensive because Singapore is an "obvious target", said Mr Shanmugam.
He pointed out that terror group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has recently released another video, featuring a Singaporean, Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, on social media.
In the graphic video, Shahdan, 39, was seen executing three men by shooting them. He and two other accomplices were dressed in military fatigues.
The eight-minute long clip, which has been shared on social media and chat groups, shows footage of bombings, vehicle attacks, and scenes of stadiums and parties.
The new video is specially timed to incite attacks at New Year celebrations, Professor Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, told The Straits Times.
Mr Shanmugam said: "There will be mad people who might actually go out and try and attack, in different countries."
Nonetheless, the minister urged Singaporeans to keep Islamophobia out of this country.
Islamophobia is unacceptable but it is increasing around the world, he said, noting that this is unfair to the "peaceful nature of the vast majority of Muslims around the world".
Islamophobia arises from a deep misunderstanding of the true nature of the religion, said Mr Shanmugam. It results from the media's focus on Islamic extremism, he added.
"The terrible, regular terrorist attacks, the deaths of so many innocent people, and the wars in the Middle East have all combined to create a seriously untrue image of Islam across the world," he said.
He reminded Singaporeans that the innocent Muslim men, women and children are the "vast majority of the victims of the extremists".
Furthermore, Islam should also not be singled out for extremism, as religions - no matter the type - can have intolerant people who advocate violence, he added.
During the constituency event, Mr Shanmugam also spoke about Singapore's vote in the United Nation on Dec 21 to reject the United States' unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Singapore supported the international consensus that the status of Jerusalem can only be settled as an agreed final issue in a peace deal.
Mr Shanmugam said: "Both Israel and Palestine have rights. We have always taken that position over many years, and both sets of rights need to be recognised."