Tackling terrorism is top of the agenda for Singapore as it chairs this year's Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM), according to Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Singapore will host a counter-terrorism symposium in October and put together a network of experts to counter chemical, biological and radiological threats within the ADMM framework.
Multinational coalition efforts have resulted in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) losing most of its territory, Dr Ng said at the Overseas Service Medal presentation ceremony at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Friday.
"Even as the coalition partners succeed against terrorists in Iraq and Syria, we must be prepared for the next phase where over 1,000 South-east Asians who have joined ISIS there may make their way home," he warned, noting that more than 25,000 people died in terror attacks worldwide last year. "Armed with battlefield experience and frustrated from the defeat of ISIS there, they can escalate violence here," he added.
Dr Ng pointed to bombings in the Indonesian city of Surabaya and the arrest of seven suspects earlier this month for plots against the Malaysian king and prime minister, as examples of regional threats.
The Republic is not immune to these threats, which could come from both foreigners as well as radicalised Singaporeans, he said.
"Between 2007 and 2017, over 30 Singaporeans have been issued restriction and detention orders under the Internal Security Act," said Dr Ng, noting that a Singaporean - odd-job worker Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, 39 - appeared in an ISIS propaganda video just last year.
Singapore recognises that terrorism needs to be tackled both overseas and at home, said Dr Ng.
He noted the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has deployed troops and assets to Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years, while locally it has partnered Home Team agencies to conduct exercises and training in responding to security threats.
The 2nd People's Defence Force Island Defence Training Institute has trained 18,000 soldiers for security operations, while a new counter-terror community response module was introduced this year to train Mindef and SAF personnel to protect themselves and others in a terror attack.
Friday's ceremony saw 64 SAF personnel awarded medals for their contributions towards the multinational effort to defeat ISIS. These efforts are part of an "important fight" that helps keep Singapore safe by attacking terrorism at its source, said Dr Ng.