Parliament: Tighter security measures proposed for large-scale events

Fans snapping photos during One Direction's concert at the National Stadium.
Fans snapping photos during One Direction's concert at the National Stadium.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Event organisers will soon have to put in place stringent security measures for public events that draw crowds of more than 5,000 at any one time.

These measures include placing barricades, engaging security officers and conducting bag checks on those attending, in light of the heightened threat of terrorism.

The requirements are part of amendments to the Public Order Act that were tabled in Parliament by Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee on Thursday (March 9).

Under the proposed changes to the law, event organisers must notify the police at least 28 days before their event if they expect a crowd of such a size.

Examples of these events include large sporting events, football matches, concerts, and New Year's Eve celebrations.

The police will then decide if the event should be declared a "special event", after assessing the risk of a terror attack or public order incident, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement on Thursday.

"The police will issue directions to the event organiser to ensure appropriate security measures are in place," said the ministry.

Private events - those where attendance is by invitation only - that draw crowds of 10,000 will also be subject to these regulations.

Events that may not attract such crowds, but are deemed to be of higher risk of terror attack or public order incident, will also be declared special events, based on the police's assessment, the ministry said.

If the changes to the Act are passed, event organisers that do not implement security measures would be guilty of an offence.

In such a scenario, the police can step in to put in place security measures they deem necessary, and recover costs from the organisers.

The Act is also being amended to give the Commissioner of Police power to reject applications for public assemblies and processions that involve foreigners using these events for political ends.

"This will help prevent Singapore from being used as a platform by foreigners to further political causes," said the ministry.

The MHA signalled its intention to amend the law to boost security at large scale public events in Parliament last week.

Speaking during the debate on the ministry's budget, Mr Lee said the Government would be adopting measures that will "require businesses to adopt certain measures to guard against security threats".

He acknowledged that the ministry was mindful of the impact these laws would have on businesses, and would take a "practical approach" to keep costs reasonable.

But he pointed out that these costs were what terrorists have imposed on the whole of society, and while the Government has borne a significant share of this so far, communities have to be roped in to help.

"We seek the business community's understanding that these measures are necessary as a shared effort to keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe," he said.