New law kicks in to better protect key buildings from attacks


Under the new law, security personnel at sensitive installations that have been declared as Protected Areas or Protected Places - such as immigration checkpoints - will have the powers to deal with threats in their vicinity.
Under the new law, security personnel at sensitive installations that have been declared as Protected Areas or Protected Places - such as immigration checkpoints - will have the powers to deal with threats in their vicinity.PHOTO: ST FILE

Buildings that have iconic or symbolic significance, provide essential services or have high footfall will be better protected under a new law that comes into force today.

Under the Infrastructure Protection Act passed by Parliament in October last year, owners will need to integrate security elements into building designs before construction or renovation if their buildings have been designated as "special developments" or "special infrastructures", said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

These measures include deploying security technology such as closed-circuit television cameras, security personnel and vehicle barriers, and strengthening the building against blast effects, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

"These measures are necessary to deter and deny attacks, and minimise the impact should an attack occur," it added.

MHA will also have the powers to direct owners of selected buildings to put in place additional security measures to guard against terror attacks. Emergency orders can also be issued to protect a building should a terrorist attack be imminent.

This law will enhance the ministry's counter-terrorism strategy to keep Singapore safe and secure, MHA said. It added that key infrastructure and buildings with high public footfall are "especially attractive targets for terrorists".

Under the new law, security personnel at sensitive installations that have been declared as Protected Areas or Protected Places - such as military camps and immigration checkpoints - will have the powers to deal with threats in their vicinity. This includes the power to question suspicious persons and inspect their belongings, and to require them to leave the area.

It will be illegal to take photos or videos of these installations without authorisation, a move that could prevent pre-attack surveillance and planning by terrorists.

Security personnel will be able to stop people from doing so, and will have powers to examine footage and have it deleted.

Signs will be displayed at the perimeter of these installations to indicate that these powers apply, and if photography and videography are prohibited.

The ministry said the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act will be repealed as the relevant provisions have been incorporated into the new law.

To enhance protective security in Singapore, a new department under the Singapore Police Force - the Centre for Protective Security - will be set up. It will cover regulations, training and outreach to do with protective security, and also ensure compliance under the new law.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2018, with the headline 'New law kicks in to better protect key buildings from attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe