Downloading the SGSecure mobile application is a must for Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel, Mindef has said, after some disgruntled full-time national servicemen (NSFs) complained that they were forced to download it.
The NSFs wrote in app reviews that they were made to download the free app, and many of them rated it poorly with complaints.
"In the first phase, Mindef/SAF personnel are required to download the SGSecure mobile application and complete the e-learning modules embedded within," said the statement.
"Subsequently, Mindef/SAF personnel will be put through scenario-based community response training, to provide them with the knowledge to protect themselves and those around them in the event of a terror attack."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Sunday Times that it encourages everyone to download the app, including NSFs and Home Team officers.
NSFs also serve in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force, which are under the purview of MHA.
The app "allows members of public to download useful information on counter-terrorism, and to receive alerts in the event of major emergencies and terror incidents in Singapore", said the spokesman.
"It also allows the public to send information to the police via text, pictures or videos."
Screenshots of bad reviews left on the app have been circulating on social media since last week. The app, which has 106 reviews as of 9pm yesterday, is rated 1.5 out of five stars on the Apple App Store.
One review by a person with the username Forced NPCO rated the app one star and said: "The management of SPF forced their officers to download, or be blacklisted, no consumption of leave and have your team leader nagging you 24/7 until you download on your phone."
Another user Twig Ng wrote: "Later during morning RO (Routine Order), my Encik will check if everyone downloaded this app. No download no book-out."
Mindef said the counter-terrorism training programme is in line with the stepping up of Singapore's national counter-terrorism efforts.
"Global and regional terror threats are persistent and long-term issues that should not be taken lightly," said its statement. "Singapore is just as susceptible to these threats as any other country."
A national service platoon sergeant, who declined to be named, told The Sunday Times that he was told a few weeks ago to instruct the men to download the SGSecure mobile app after they had booked out of camp, and to ensure that they had done so. But he was not told to punish his subordinates if they fail to download the app.
•Additional reporting by Clement Yong and Jose Hong