Why It Matters

New moves to keep SG Secure

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on Friday announced a major upgrade of Singapore's counter-terrorism measures, in response to the terror threat which is at its highest level in decades.

He stressed the grave threat posed by terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the region, and said it was no longer a question of whether, but when, an attack will take place in Singapore.

The new measures to harden vigilance, speed up security response and involve the community are thus timely and necessary to tackle a threat that has grown more complex. Last November's Paris attacks saw armed terrorists target crowded places and strike multiple sites simultaneously, with the aim of maximising casualties.

New police teams trained in counter-assault skills and given more sophisticated weapons to disarm attackers will be able to react faster. Aside from these Emergency Response Teams, second wave forces like officers from the Special Operations Command and Gurkha Contingent will also have their response times enhanced.

Businesses and the public have a role to play too.

To protect infrastructure and soft targets such as shopping malls, building owners and event organisers may have to impose stringent security measures. Police CCTV cameras, already in place at HDB blocks and multistorey carparks, will also be installed at more public spaces.

In a crucial move to rally more Singaporeans to stay alert and strengthen social bonds, the Home Team will roll out a new national programme named SG Secure later this year. Building on the decade-old Community Engagement Programme, it aims to organise and train residents to guard against attacks, and maintain social harmony in their aftermath.

If a terror attack hits home, security forces must be ready to respond. The community has to stay united too. The new measures are important to ensure that when terrorists strike, Singaporeans stand up to them and reject their attempt to inflict psychological damage and disrupt our way of life.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2016, with the headline 'New moves to keep SG Secure'. Print Edition | Subscribe