The recent terror attacks in Paris are a sobering reminder that Singapore's safety and security cannot be taken for granted, said Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung.
"(If) something like that can happen in Paris, it can happen here as well... It can happen in any urban city around the world. We must always be on high alert," said Mr Ong . The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the Nov 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.
Mr Ong said the Singapore Armed Forces is always on standby to stop such attacks from happening here. "If there is any terrorist threat or external incursion, any trouble, we stand ready to react."
But he added that the SAF can only do so much, and Singaporeans also have a role to play in defending themselves.
Mr Ong was speaking to reporters yesterday after he witnessed how soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (2 SIR) were activated to test how they responded to a mock invasion. It is among several army ground units, like the armour and artillery units, that have been rostered and asked to stand by.
Mr Ong noted that Singapore has been stepping up its security vigilance since the Sept 11 attacks in 2001, with uniformed personnel deployed in key installations, and security agencies working together and conducting frequent anti-terror drills.
Accompanied by the army's senior officers, Mr Ong, who is also Acting Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills), saw nearly 400 soldiers in Amoy Quee Camp go through drills that tested how quickly they can get ready to suppress an enemy that has invaded Singapore. They drew their equipment, loaded ammunition and simulated how they would be deployed for action.
It was Mr Ong's second visit to a military camp since he was sworn into office on Oct 1. Previously, he visited the Basic Military Training Centre on Pulau Tekong.
Asked if soldiers should also be roped in to help manage crowds during rail disruptions, a plan that was reported by The Straits Times in August, Mr Ong said the SAF's "first and foremost priority" is to safeguard the safety and security of Singapore.
"Of course, there are demands for us to do other things, but this is our priority and that must be the principle that we operate on."