Extremely good intelligence is key to averting incidents such as the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, said Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam.
It had emerged on Saturday that the plane may have taken over by someone with malicious intent. Malaysian authorities have found that someone on board may have deliberately disabled the plane's transponder and other devices with the plane continuing to fly for nearly seven hours after authorities had lost contact with it.
Speaking on the sidelines of a community event in Sembawang on Sunday, Mr Shanmugam said the latest revelations on MH370 are "quite chilling". He noted that the takeover of the plane was a very deliberate, very carefully planned operation. "It is a very sharp reminder really that we cannot take anything for granted," he said.
With Changi Airport's 50 million passengers passing through a year, doing "100 per cent checks" is not practical, he noted, as most passengers are travelling legitimately and want a good experience. "So the real answer is extremely good intelligence ahead of time, close cooperation with others," he said.
Referring to the arguments raised in the past few months about intelligence and intelligence activities, Mr Shanmugam noted that the MH370 incident brings home the need for good intelligence, and for governments to have it and be able to use it effectively.
"It doesn't mean that it will pick up everything, but with good airport security and intelligence, you should be able to avert most of the danger," he said.
Asked what assistance Singapore will provide Malaysia in the search for MH370, Mr Shanmugam said it depends on what assistance is requested. He noted that the area of search has changed and is now very wide. "We wait to hear from Malaysia and the defence ministers are in contact with each other," he added.