SGSecure will shift focus to lifting levels of preparedness

Many people 'not mentally tuned' to being prepared in case of terror attack: Shanmugam

The focus of a movement to mobilise the community for national security will shift from boosting public awareness of the possibility of a terror attack in Singapore to raising preparedness levels in case of such an event.

Reflecting the change in focus, the SGSecure campaign will use a new tagline "Be Prepared. Our Response Matters" instead of the old "Not If, But When. Our Response Matters".

Announcing the changes on the sidelines of an award presentation ceremony yesterday, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the campaign has achieved some success but more work needs to be done as "a lot of people are not mentally tuned to preparedness".

While the SGSecure app has been downloaded about one million times since its launch in September last year, a series of attacks this year in London and Barcelona, and the recent emergence of extremist groups in South-east Asia - particularly in the Philippines' Marawi region and Myanmar's Rakhine state - underscored the urgency of the threat facing Singapore.

"It is going to attract fighters, extremists and would-be fighters to go to these places to fight. And once they come to this region, they are going to try and spread out to other targets too. It is not a pretty picture, and we're going to keep pushing on.

"We still have some ways to go. Awareness is one thing, preparedness is another," said the minister.

He said the Government has made a big push this year to raise preparedness at workplaces and schools.

In response to the recent Singaporean Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighter Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, 39, who appeared in an ISIS propaganda video, Mr Shanmugam said the authorities have been aware of Shahdan for some time, and recognise the severity of the terrorist threat here.

Mr Shanmugam said that radicalisation of Singaporeans has intensified in recent years, both overseas and locally. Between 2015 and this year, 11 people were arrested in relation to radicalisation and terrorism. This figure is much bigger compared with similar time frames across previous years.

Mr Shanmugam said it was a fact that some people will be convinced by propaganda videos. "They feature charismatic speakers who make people angry and get them to go out there and kill someone else."

The Ministry of Home Affairs also announced amendments to the Public Order Act, which will take effect on Sunday.

Under the law, organisers of public events with an attendance of 5,000 or more people at any point in time, or private events with an attendance of 10,000 or more at any point in time, must notify the police at least 28 days in advance.

This will apply to events held on or after Oct 29.

The move will allow the police to issue directions to event organisers to ensure that appropriate security measures are put in place.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline 'SGSecure will shift focus to lifting levels of preparedness'. Subscribe