Sunday, 20 March 2016

Countering terrorism: Enhancing Singapore's response

Singapore's major ramp-up in security in face of mounting ISIS threat
* More CCTVs * More police fast-response teams * Greater community engagement
By Zakir Hussain, Deputy News Editor, Politics, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

A major upgrade of Singapore's security architecture is in the works, as the threat of a terror attack here reaches its highest level in decades.

The use of police CCTV cameras, already in place at HDB blocks and multi-storey carparks, will be extended to more public spaces, including town and hawker centres and walkways to transport hubs.

Building owners and event organisers may also be required to impose stringent security measures as incidents abroad show that terrorists are taking aim at soft targets.

Emergency response teams of police officers trained in counter-assault skills and armed with more sophisticated weapons will also be formed to react swiftly to attacks.

Significantly, a new national programme called SG Secure will be rolled out to organise and train residents to protect society from attacks and ensure that racial and religious harmony is maintained.

These measures to strengthen defences and, most importantly, Singapore's social fabric will be put in place over the next few years.



They were outlined yesterday by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam in a speech to top officers from the Home Team, where he noted that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group poses a grave threat to the region.

And Singapore is a prime target.

"The threat of a terror attack here is at its highest level in recent times, much more so than after 9/11, and the arrest of Jemaah Islamiah members," he said. "It is no longer a question of whether an attack will take place, but really, when is an attack going to take place. And we have to be prepared for that."



Terror threat level has “morphed into a serious monster”, says Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Sc. http://bit.ly/1R3ER1X
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Friday, March 18, 2016


Mr Shanmugam's speech came two days after the Home Affairs Ministry announced it had arrested four men - three who took up arms in Yemen's sectarian conflict, and one who planned to join a Kurdish militia fighting ISIS. Last month, Singapore also deported four Indonesian visitors who had plans to travel to Syria.

Especially troubling is how attacks directed or inspired by ISIS have been carried out - most recently in Paris on Nov 13 last year, and in Jakarta on Jan 14 this year. They involved multiple shooters acting simultaneously in different locations, targeting crowded places where people gather, and seeking to inflict maximum casualties.

An attack on Singapore could also be planned outside the country, just as the Paris attacks were, he noted.

Such developments in the region and beyond have led the Home Team to review its strategies and to start to strengthen them urgently. This will also involve working closely with the private sector and the wider community of residents.

Some new measures will cause inconvenience, he said: "We will all need to get used to more security and bag checks. But I believe our people will understand and accept the need for these measures."

It is also crucial for society to remain cohesive after an attack. As such, SG Secure must be a "rallying call for Singaporeans from all walks of life to unite, to play a part in making Singapore a safe place." Residents, workers and community groups will be trained to stay vigilant to prevent an attack, stay united to safeguard the social fabric when an attack happens, and stay strong to help one another recover from it.

Dr Norshahril Saat of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute said the steps send a signal that "everyone has a role to play in Singapore's security. The vast majority of Singaporeans are moderate, and if attacks occur, they must not be quick to target any groups."

Mr Shanmugam said Singapore must also be able to recover well from an attack: "We have to emerge stronger, more united and more determined as Singaporeans."





Our Response to Terrorism____________________________Today, I outlined the way we will respond to terror. I made two...
Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Friday, March 18, 2016






The threat

INCREASED SET OF THREATS

The intent of such attacks is to achieve high, maximum public visibility, inflict maximum damage and create a climate of fear. Beyond the loss of lives, the attackers wanted to destroy the psychological resilience and social fabric of local communities. They wanted to divide and tear apart communities.

We have in place a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, which has dealt with the challenges so far and quite effectively. Now we have to deal with an increased set of threats and deal with a new modus operandi. And, there is no time to waste. We have to do this urgently.

- MR K. SHANMUGAM, Home Affairs Minister




The response

BEING BETTER PREPARED TO DEAL WITH CHALLENGES

The Home Team has studied the recent attacks. We will upgrade our capabilities and modify our operational set-up so that we can better deal with these challenges. It is critical for our security forces to arrive quickly – the current norms have to change, and they must have the capacity to take down the attackers, which means enhancing the numbers. These forces must be mentally prepared, tactically well trained, and well equipped to react quickly to the situation.

- MR K. SHANMUGAM






New security measures such as a national programme called “SG Secure” and the setting up of Emergency Response Teams...
Posted by Home Team News (Singapore) on Friday, March 18, 2016






Singapore a 'prime target' amid growing threat in region: Shanmugam
By Zakir Hussain, Deputy News Editor, Politics, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

Malaysia carried out more than 100 arrests of people suspected of having links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group and foiled seven terrorist plots last year.

Indonesia made at least 74 terror-related arrests and prevented nine plots last year - yet an attack occurred in Jakarta on Jan 14 this year.

By the year end, 150 people now imprisoned in Indonesian jails for terror-related offences will be released. And at least 100 Indonesians have returned from Syria, while 200 others have been deported by Turkey while trying to get there.

These worrying developments in Singapore's immediate neighbours were cited by Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam in a speech to some 300 senior Home Team officers yesterday, where he outlined strategies Singapore was taking to counter the growing terror threat.

The rise of ISIS means that the threat of a terror attack here is at its highest level in recent times. So countermeasures have to be stepped up, he told the Home Team Leaders' Forum, an annual platform for the minister to update top officers of Home Team agencies on key issues and strategic directions for the year ahead.

"In 2015, we saw the terror threat morph into a very different, newer, much more powerful large monster," he said. "It is now a qualitatively different and much more dangerous threat. ISIS presents a far graver threat than Al-Qaeda and its affiliates ever were."

Last year, ISIS directed or inspired at least 56 attacks outside Iraq and Syria. Many targeted civilians, and Mr Shanmugam cited seven major attacks this year alone.

ISIS' control of large territories and oil resources has also earned it hundreds of millions of dollars.

It also uses social media skilfully, makes people believe they need to kill in the name of God, and has recruited over 30,000 foreign fighters - some 1,000 of them from South-east Asia.

"In scale, network, finances, propaganda, ISIS is at a different level and sophistication compared with other terrorist groups," he said.

ISIS also seeks to set up a regional caliphate that includes Singapore.

Mr Shanmugam had, in a speech two months ago, set out at length how the political backdrop in the region made it fertile ground for a climate of rising extremism.

Yesterday, he said: "We have to keep that political backdrop (in mind) because when politics fails, then everything else fails, and that is unfortunately happening."

He noted how in Malaysia, some of those arrested for ISIS links were commandos, police officers and civil servants. There was also a substantial threat posed by "clean skins" - people with no criminal records and who are not under the scrutiny of security agencies.

They come together through social media, and last April, Malaysia arrested 12 such militants who could get past immigration checks undetected if they travelled.

"Every day, we have more than 400,000 persons crossing our land checkpoints in Woodlands and Tuas both ways. In Woodlands alone, we have about 90,000 travellers via motorcycles and 80,000 travellers via cars, every single day," he said.

"You can work out for yourself the nature of the threat to us, from a would-be terrorist in Malaysia."

"When we complain about jams, one has got to take it in perspective, but it is very difficult to bring this point across to the broader public. The checks are necessary," he said.

As for Indonesia, he said some pro-ISIS groups are coming together under the banner of Jamaah Ansharul Khilafah. Other groups are also competing for attention, raising the risk of one-upmanship attacks.

The situation is exacerbated by shortcomings in Indonesian law, which currently does not allow for the detention of those who want to join ISIS. As a result, home-grown terrorists, individuals who are released, and those who have returned from Syria and Iraq are coalescing.

The last group poses a significant risk as they are battle-hardened with combat skills and violent tendencies, Mr Shanmugam noted.

"They want to destroy what there is and replace (it) with what there is in Iraq and Syria, and in territories in control by them," he said.

South-east Asian militants in Syria and Iraq are also actively encouraging militants in the region to strike.

They include ISIS' Malay Archipelago Unit leader Bahrun Naim, who has encouraged attacks in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Last year, Thailand was hit by bombings in Bangkok's Siam Paragon mall in February, in Koh Samui in April, and at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok in August.

Some Philippine and Malaysian militants have reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS, which could lead to the setting up of a wilayat or province in southern Philippines.

Mr Shanmugam noted that extremist Uighur militants have also linked up with militant networks in this region, and as many as 3,500 Uighurs are fighting in Syria and Iraq.


“We are in the middle, an oasis of calm, but a prime target for all": K Shanmugam Sc says Southeast Asia is a fertile ground for breeding terrorism. http://bit.ly/1R3ER1X
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Friday, March 18, 2016


Groups sympathetic to the perceived mistreatment of Uighurs in China could also target Chinese interests in South-east Asia and elsewhere. In Turkey, the Thai consulate was attacked after Thailand deported 109 Uighurs in July last year.

The Rohingya issue also has potential security implications, with ISIS targeting some 220,000 Rohingya refugees vulnerable to radicalisation in camps in Malaysia and Thailand. Mr Shanmugam noted that the Rohingya have attempted retaliatory attacks on Myanmar interests.

"There are multiple layers of threats in this region - complex, interwoven, fusing religion with domestic political grievances," he said. "And we are in the middle, an oasis of calm, and a prime target for all."





Visited the Police Coast Guard (PCG) last Friday (March 18). Watched PCG officers demonstrate their operational...
Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Thursday, March 24, 2016






POSSIBLE TYPES OF ATTACK SINGAPORE FACES
The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

1 Attacks that can be planned just outside Singapore, before the radicals come in and carry out the attacks here. Last November's Paris attacks were planned in Molenbeek, Belgium, a three-hour drive from the French capital. "We have several possible Molenbeeks around us," Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said, noting that 200 million people pass through our checkpoints every year, with 145 million crossing Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints.

2 Attacks involving weapons which could be smuggled across the border for use by Singaporeans. This is why checks at checkpoints have to be very, very stringent, he said. "You can't trade security for convenience."

3 A lone-wolf attack by self-radicalised individuals. There has been a noticeable rise in such attacks worldwide, after ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani told followers to carry out attacks in any way. Six such attacks abroad took place in 2014 after his statement, and 11 more took place last year - excluding foiled attacks.

Adnani also told followers: If you cannot find an IED (improvised explosive device) or guns, then smash people's heads with a rock, slaughter them with a knife, run them down with a car, throw them down from a high place, choke them. Mr Shanmugam said: "Security checks at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints are not going to prevent these."

4 Foreign workers in Singapore can get radicalised, as the recent arrests and deportation of 27 Bangladeshis showed. The men had met every week to discuss taking up arms, circulated hardline material secretly among themselves, and carefully targeted fellow Bangladeshis to grow their numbers.





More surveillance cameras as deterrent
By Royston Sim, Assistant News Editor, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

The network of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will expand significantly over the next four years, to ramp up surveillance and deter those plotting terror attacks in Singapore.

The Government will also, where necessary, pass laws to require building owners and organisers of major events to step up security, said Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday.

In a speech to senior Home Team officials, Mr Shanmugam laid out plans to protect key infrastructure such as government buildings, as well as soft targets like shopping malls and sports facilities.

All 10,000 Housing Board blocks and multi-storey carparks will have police cameras installed by the end of this year, he said.

Electronic eyes will be put up at common heartland areas next, especially in crowded places such as town centres and hawker centres.

The Straits Times understands that another 11,000 cameras will be installed over the next four years, on top of the 65,000 police cameras that will be in place by this year.

Apart from police cameras, footage from other CCTV cameras will be made available to police on demand, including those monitoring the public transport system and commercial and government buildings, he said.

Crowdsourcing platforms will also be set up for members of the public to send videos to the police.

Citing how tight security at the Stade de France stadium and a larger mall in Jakarta had helped foil planned attacks there, Mr Shanmugam said new laws will be passed where needed to enhance security at buildings and major events.

He said strict security checks had deterred three suicide bombers from entering the stadium in France. "Imagine the consequences if they had managed to get into the stadium and then exploded themselves," he said. Coordinated attacks in Paris killed 130 people that day.

As for the Jakarta attacks in January near the popular Sarinah mall that killed two bystanders and injured more than 20 others, Mr Shanmugam said the militants had apparently targeted a larger mall nearby but abandoned their original plan due to tight security there.

In Singapore, developers of large-scale projects will be asked to factor in security considerations at the design stage. Building owners could be asked to install CCTV cameras, and there will be security screenings at major events.

"There are good reasons for requiring these measures," Mr Shanmugam said. "Terrorist attacks in other places have focused on soft targets because there was little or no security protection."

Ramping up security will increase building and operating costs, but this cannot be avoided, he said.

Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, head of policy studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, acknowledged privacy concerns over expanding CCTV camera coverage, but said: "You can't trade security for anything else."





Specially trained emergency teams
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

New police teams that are tactically trained, mentally prepared and equipped to respond quickly to a terrorist attack will be set up to beef up Singapore's response to the terror threat.

These Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) will be able to respond to attacks happening simultaneously at multiple locations. They will be trained with counter-assault skills, and given the necessary weapons.

It is one of the three key initiatives that Singapore will roll out to fight terrorism, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told senior Home Team officials yesterday. He did not say when the teams will be introduced.

Mr Shanmugam warned that the threat of a terrorist attack may be at its highest level yet.

"When an attack takes place, the speed and manner in which we respond will be critical," he said. He noted that during the Paris attacks last November, there were substantial periods when the terrorists operated with little or no hindrance. The attacks organised by the terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria left 130 dead.

One officer had arrived at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris 15 minutes into the attack, and managed to stall the killing by shooting an attacker.

"But this officer was then ordered to withdraw in favour of a more specialised anti-terrorism unit - that unit arrived half an hour into the assault. By that time, the killing was effectively over," said Mr Shanmugam.

He added that the police will reorganise forces here, "enhance their firepower and operational capability, and deploy them in a way so they can arrive faster at any location". This was critical, as terrorists now aim to kill as many people as they can and inflict maximum fear and damage, he added.

There would be more boots on the ground, with more police officers and ERTs trained, said Mr Shanmugam.

"Day to day, (the ERTs) will patrol the terrain and engage stakeholders to build familiarity with the areas they will be in charge of. The aim is to significantly upgrade our immediate response capability," he said.

The ERTs, which will be equipped with special counter-assault skills and weapons, will engage attackers until a second wave of forces arrive. The response time of these forces - which include specialist teams from the Special Operations Command and the Gurkha Contingent - will also be enhanced.

"They will be enabled to arrive at the scene faster; on top of this, the Home Team will also work more closely with the Singapore Armed Forces to deal with the threat, where necessary," said Mr Shanmugam.

Retired police superintendent Lee Swee Thin believes that the ERTs can respond swiftly. "They will probably be based in strategic locations to cover vulnerable areas," he said.

Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng, who is on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said Singapore "must keep on enhancing our capabilities, readiness and social cohesion".

He said: "The new ERTs will help us to more quickly stop an attack in progress and minimise loss of innocent lives."





SG Secure to equip people for crises
By Royston Sim, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

A new national programme will be rolled out later this year that is designed to rally more Singaporeans, foster resilience and prepare them to handle crises in the face of the looming terror threat.

SG Secure will revamp and expand on the 10-year-old Community Engagement Programme (CEP) launched after the 2005 London bombings.

The CEP involved building a network of people of all races and groups, including schools and businesses, that would hold the multiracial, multi-religious society together against the strains of a terror attack.

But with an evolving terrorist threat that is ever more complex and dangerous, Singaporeans have to play a more active role to keep the country safe. The new programme will help people understand the evolving security landscape and new threats, as well as equip them with skills to respond during an attack.

"There is a strong, urgent need for the community to be vigilant before and during an attack," said Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday at the Home Team Leaders' Forum. "A community that knows how to respond, a community that is prepared and equipped with the necessary skills to protect themselves, their families and the community."

The Home Team will work with the People's Association, labour movement, schools, businesses and other groups to develop or enhance programmes to engage and train Singaporeans in practical skills such as life-saving. Exercises on what to do in case of an actual attack will be "upgraded significantly" as well, he said.

"The ideal outcome (of the new programme) is everyone knows that he or she... is also responsible," he told reporters. "We look out for what's suspicious, we look out for telltale signs, we are able to offer emergency response, we know what to do if we are in the vicinity of a terror attack. We know how to help someone if they are victims."


“Entire community has to be galvanised. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be tough”: K Shanmugam Sc on getting Singaporeans to play a part in anti-terrorism efforts. http://bit.ly/1PfLWIz
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Friday, March 18, 2016


He acknowledged that it would not be easy to galvanise the entire community, partly because of the secure environment in Singapore that makes it hard to imagine the threats. "We have to change that and it's going to take time. It's going to take a lot of effort," he said.

MP Patrick Tay, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said there would be many more eyes and ears on the ground if members of the public become more alert to threats.

"At all levels, it's about telling the people to stay resilient and not be complacent," Mr Tay said.

Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, head of policy studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the terror threat has become more complex, and it is important that security measures keep up. The new programme will help promote a greater level of security awareness, he said.

Terrorists aim to inflict maximum fear and casualties, as well as divide society, Mr Shanmugam noted.

After the Jakarta attacks in January, Indonesians started tweeting #KamiTidakTakut, which means "we are not afraid". That same spirit of bravery and the willingness to fight back are needed in Singapore, he said.

"If an attack occurs, we need to be able to recover well," Mr Shanmugam said. "We have to emerge stronger, more united, and more determined as Singaporeans."





As the terror threat has "turned into a serious monster", the Home Team will enhance its counter-terrorism strategy in...
Posted by Home Team News (Singapore) on Friday, March 18, 2016






Bevy of cameras, high-tech sensors to secure shoreline
Police Coast Guard to beef up intruder detection capabilities at maritime borders
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

A surveillance dragnet of 314 CCTV cameras will be built around Singapore's shoreline from this year, part of the Police Coast Guard's (PCG) efforts to boost its detection of intruders.

It will add to its multi-layered defence of the island's maritime borders, already watched over by advanced electro-optic cameras, radar systems and boat patrols.

"We want to look out at our waters so we can spot enemy vessels early, as this gives us time to respond," said PCG head of operations and security Ang Eng Seng.

The closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be fully deployed by 2018.

Superintendent Ang said these detection systems would not only pick up smugglers, but also potential terrorist elements, who use the same routes to enter or leave the country.

Just last November, an electro-optic camera detected a man trying to swim away from Singapore. One of 27 wanted Bangladeshi workers who were radicalised, he was nabbed and later deported.



Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the PCG had a "very important role" in detecting terrorist elements that might try to sneak into Singapore.

"The threats can come from self-radicalised individuals inside... it can also come from a Molenbeek equivalent around Singapore," said Mr Shanmugam, referring to the district in Brussels, Belgium, where the Paris attacks last year were planned.

Speaking during a visit to the PCG headquarters yesterday, Mr Shanmugam said attackers could try to gain entry to Singapore via the sea, just as the terrorists who carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, that left 166 dead, did.


The Singapore Police Coast Guard plays an important role in preventing and deterring terror threats coming through the sea, said Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Sc during a visit to PCG's Brani base, where he observed them demonstrating their capabilities.
Posted by 938LIVE on Friday, March 18, 2016


To strengthen Singapore's maritime borders, the PCG is rolling out more advanced surveillance systems, such as new panoramic electro-optic sensors on the north and south coasts, each with a 360-degree view of its surroundings. The system can even analyse its video footage and flag suspicious activity so officers can act upon it, said the PCG.

Two types of unmanned vehicles are also in the pipeline.

The first, a tethered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is a drone carrying an electro-optic sensor that can be deployed from the decks of coastal patrol craft. Flying at a height of 50m, it gives officers a bird's eye view of the surrounding waters. It will be put into operation from 2019, said Supt Ang.


The second, an unmanned surface vessel (USV), can patrol an area autonomously, and is equipped with search-lights, loudhailers and other surveillance systems.

Trials will begin late this year. And while it would not be possible to replace manned patrol vessels completely - for instance, USVs would not be able to do boat checks - it could potentially replace some, said Supt Ang.





What would you do if a terror attack strikes Singapore? #BangkokBlast survivor Mdm Betty Ong shares why she believes increased community vigilance and readiness is a must.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Saturday, March 19, 2016






Crisis exercise for community leaders
By Ng Keng Gene, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

A bomb blast at Tampines MRT station and vandalism in places of worship were among the imaginary situations that community and religious leaders from Tampines had to deal with at a crisis preparedness exercise yesterday.

"It was emotionally disturbing to me as I realised the challenges in making a right response during a crisis. It was not easy," said Reverend Peter Koh, the pastor-in-charge of Living Hope Methodist Church.

Hosted by Rev Koh's church, the Inject-Based Exercise allowed participants to learn how to react to fictitious scenarios that were "injected" during the course of the two-hour-long exercise.

Some participants from the five Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs) in Tampines GRC came together for yesterday's exercise, where they had to manage a mock crisis involving escalating communal and religious tensions in the aftermath of the "attack".

Participating organisations included Victory Family Centre, Darul Ghufran Mosque and Tampines Chinese Temple. Leaders had to come up with quick responses to address concerns on the ground, quash rumours and think of ways to preserve solidarity among their members during the exercise.

Such crisis preparedness exercises have been conducted since 2007, as part of ongoing efforts by government agencies to prepare religious and community leaders to deal with tensions that may affect inter-communal harmony in the wake of terrorist incidents.

All but two of the 89 IRCCs across the island have taken part in crisis preparedness exercises. The exceptions are Gambas and Limbang IRCCs, in new wards.

"Given the increase in threat around the region, the exercise is very relevant. Terrorism might happen at any time," said Mr Mohd Shariff Mohd Yatim from the Jamiyah Home for the Aged.

Mr Steven Lim, chairman of the Tampines Central IRCC, said: "Exercises of this nature keep all of us on our toes."

Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth and an MP for Tampines GRC, also attended the session.

"Despite our best efforts, we cannot guarantee that a terrorist attack will never happen in Singapore. How we respond is vital. IRCCs play an important role in maintaining Singapore's racial and religious harmony," he said.

"In times of crisis, we must all step up to play our part in restoring calm and harmony in Singapore."





Building owners, event organisers ready to beef up security
Any added cost a small price to pay, they say, after minister's warning of terror threat
By Samantha Boh and Alvin Chia, The Sunday Times, 20 Mar 2016

Building owners and event organisers say they are ready to upgrade their security measures in response to Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam's warning that the threat of terror attacks is at its highest level in recent times.

They admitted that it could add to overheads, but that was a small price to pay.

Said Mr Alejandro Helbling, general manager of luxury Sentosa resort Capella Singapore: "The value of lives far outweighs the cost of training and security infrastructure."

On Friday, Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, spelt out in stark terms that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group poses a grave threat to the region and that Singapore is a prime target. He revealed that Singapore will be strengthening its security architecture, including having more closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places, and training special response teams to react swiftly to attacks.

But alongside a new national programme called SG Secure to train residents to protect society from attacks and ensure that racial and religious harmony is maintained, he also highlighted the need for building owners and event organisers to impose stringent security measures.

This could include CCTV systems that meet baseline technical standards and more security and bag checks at entry points.

Head of security at the Esplanade Vincent Luo said it has constantly improved and upgraded its CCTV coverage over the years, which has helped strengthened overall security of its premises.

Singapore Nightlife Business Association president Dennis Foo said most pubs and clubs already have CCTV cameras, but suggested that the next step is to ensure they are being watched, instead of being used to replay incidents which have happened. "CCTVs are essential not just to record incidents but should also be used to monitor activities in the venue to detect and prevent incidents," he said. "Security personnel should be monitoring the CCTVs on the control room screens most, if not all, of the time."

Still, Mr Laurence Wee, who sits on the management council of Golden Wall Centre, a commercial building in Short Street in Rochor, said that vigilance from members of the public should go hand in hand with tighter security measures: "All must practice due diligence."

Of late, mass-participant sports events have been seen as soft targets prone to attacks, but local event organisers said they are prepared to comply with increased security requirements.

Mr Jeffrey Foo, director of Infinitus which organises The Straits Times Run, Great Eastern Women's Run and the Illumi Run, said: "There's no way we would say that because of budget, we won't step up security. We will put in the resources when it's needed."

Mr Chris Robb, managing director of Spectrum Worldwide, organiser of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, said: "We've always worked with agencies such as the police to see what security levels are needed and we'll adapt accordingly." He highlighted how heightened security measures, such as more security fences and bomb sweeps, were implemented at local running events in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three and injured over 250 racegoers in 2013.

The Sports Hub, where the National Stadium, OCBC Arena and Singapore Indoor Stadium are, said it is "in constant consultation with Singapore Police Force and the relevant security agencies, to monitor and assess risk levels".

"While we cannot discuss or disclose details of our security arrangements given the heightened sense of threat, necessary precautions are in place."





Boosting anti-terror features of buildings: Singapore government reviews security guidelines
MHA working with key agencies to update security guidelines for building owners amid rising threat of terror attack
By Danson Cheong and Lin Yangchen, The Straits Times, 4 Apr 2016

Amid a heightened alert against the threat of a terror attack here, the Government is reviewing security guidelines for building owners, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revealed.

An MHA spokesman said it has been working with key agencies - including the police, Singapore Civil Defence Force, Building and Construction Authority and Urban Redevelopment Authority - to update current guidelines. These will be brought in line with existing regulatory standards.

The ministry is also looking to offer greater clarity in the technical specifications of security measures, such as vehicle barriers, closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems and glass facade standards. "We expect to complete the review by the end of this year," the spokesman told The Straits Times.

The ministry said last month that the threat of a terrorist attack in Singapore was at its highest level in decades and that it could pass laws that may require building owners to adopt stringent security measures. But the ministry did not give a definite timeframe.

The current guidelines, which are not compulsory, were published in 2005 and updated in 2010.


Called Guidelines for Enhancing Building Security in Singapore, the 138-page document sets out security measures such as using an anti-ramming perimeter line or blast-resistant structural materials.

Mr Derek Chew, general manager of security firm Soverus Consultancy and Services, said it was time the guidelines were reviewed, given that the threat landscape has changed a lot since then. In older CCTV systems, recorded images are often so poor that they cannot be used for facial recognition, he noted.

The Government could require or encourage building owners to do regular security audits, he said, adding: "Building owners should at least get a security consultancy to look at their premises. It's no longer if, but when, an attack would occur."

Currently, security consultants estimate that fewer than 10 per cent of buildings here adopt MHA's existing recommendations.

They said constructing a building with blast-proof materials could drive construction costs up by as much as 15 to 20 per cent - and is the main reason for poor adoption rates among developers. These materials could include bullet- or shatter-proof glass, reinforced-concrete walls and structures that would not collapse even if one of the key supports was destroyed by a blast.

Using equipment such as X-ray machines and scanners would further drive costs up.

Mr Jasbir Singh, deputy head of Certis Cisco Consulting Services, said: "The question should not be whether we can afford to implement the measures. Rather, it should be, can we afford not to implement the security measures?"

Mr Toby Koh, group managing director of Ademco Security Group, said the economic costs and fallout from an attack would far exceed any added investment for security.

"All countries are porous; if terrorists are determined enough, they will be able to attack," he said.

He said security did not have to cost top dollar, and a properly designed building could end up saving developers money in the long run.

Placing concrete planters around a building's perimeter, for example, was a cost-effective method of preventing vehicle bombs, he said.

Buildings could also be designed from the ground up with better CCTV coverage, reducing the need for manpower on the ground.

"The mean cost of a security guard is about $3,000 to $4,000 a month. If you have 10 guards it'll cost you $40,000 a month and $480,000 a year. Let's say you could reduce this by half - that's not spare change for anyone," said Mr Koh.

Having said that, security consultants say it is difficult to mandate standard measures as each building faces its own set of risks.

"Exactly what preventive measures these should be will also be based on the threats identified during a thorough security risk assessment and the type of building concerned," said Aetos Holdings security consultant Andrew Peck.

MHA also acknowledged in its 2010 guidelines that comprehensive protection against every possible threat is too expensive, and security has to be balanced with "economic viability and sustainability".

There are signs that developers are taking greater notice of the terror threat. Security consultants said they have had more requests for their services from developers.

"Enhanced security also enables them to attract anchor tenants and clients who place a premium on the safety and security of their key assets and people," said Mr Singh.

Certis Cisco has done consultancy work on commercial buildings in the civic district and data centres for commercial institutions.

Mr Singh said clients often ask for infrastructure that allows measures such as vehicle barriers and vehicle and personnel screening.

Major developers here said they are working with the police to ensure their premises are secure.

The public is also becoming more tuned in to the issue. Many here have posted their concerns on social media in response to recent news reports of terrorist attacks.

Mr Low Chee Kin, 43, a supervisor at a semiconductor company, said: "I think the best way to prevent a terror attack is to ensure total awareness."

He suggested doing more to raise public awareness through education and multimedia, as well as ramping up existing measures like security checks and patrols.

He also suggested monitoring the Internet more closely for suspicious activities, and building better networks with other countries to coordinate anti-terror measures.





"The nature of the threat has changed ... we have to evolve some new tactics based on what we saw in Paris and Jakarta”: Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Sc.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Friday, March 18, 2016





Enhancing Singapore's response to terrorism
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam announced changes to harden Singapore against a terrorist attack at a Home Team Leaders' Forum yesterday. Here is an edited excerpt of his speech.
The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2016

It is no longer a question of whether an attack will take place but when an attack is going to take place in Singapore and we have to be prepared for that. The critical task for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is really to deal with this in the coming years.

I will deal with our response in two categories: (i) the security response that is needed; and (ii) the community response that is needed.

NEW MODUS OPERANDI

The attacks in Paris on Nov 13, last year and in Jakarta on Jan 14 this year have shown a different, more dangerous modus operandi. These were multi-shooter attacks staged almost simultaneously over different locations. Second, the targets were crowded places where people congregate, with little or no security protection, like restaurants, a sports stadium, concert hall, shopping malls. Third, in Paris, the attackers took hostages, not to negotiate but to inflict maximum casualties.

The intent of such attacks is to achieve high, maximum public visibility, inflict maximum damage and create a climate of fear. Beyond the loss of lives, the attackers wanted to destroy the psychological resilience and social fabric of local communities. They wanted to divide and tear apart communities.

We have in place a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, which has dealt with the challenges so far and quite effectively. Now we have to deal with an increased set of threats and deal with a new modus operandi. There is no time to waste. We have to do this urgently. We have to and will significantly enhance measures in two areas: security protection and vigilance, and security response.

SECURITY PROTECTION AND VIGILANCE

First, we will further enhance protective security measures for buildings and premises. These include critical infrastructure, like Changi Airport and government buildings, and also soft targets, like entertainment centres, sports facilities and shopping centres.

Security vigilance will be substantially enhanced through a significant expansion of CCTV coverage. The enhanced CCTV coverage will give us three significant advantages in our fight against terrorism:

Greater deterrence via police cameras at HDB blocks and other places;
- It will give police a better sense-making; and
- Situational awareness. This is critical.
The Home Team will develop deep data analytical capabilities to allow real-time monitoring and analysis of the CCTV data. This will allow us to plan and execute our responses much more incisively. The footage will also help us identify the perpetrators, shorten the time taken to apprehend them and prevent them from launching more attacks.

We will complete the installation of police cameras at 10,000 HDB resident blocks and multi-storey car parks this year. We will then move to cover common areas in the heartland, especially areas with high human traffic such as town centres, hawker centres, walkways linking up to major transportation nodes. Phased installation of cameras will start later this year. It will be completed progressively over the next four years. Beyond police cameras, there are other data that we can make better use of. This includes existing CCTVs islandwide.

We will set up the network infrastructure to allow CCTV data in more areas to be accessible to the police, on-demand. These include CCTVs monitoring the public transportation system, commercial buildings with high footfall and government buildings. I will speak about this in Parliament, at some point, soon. Police will work closely with premises owners to allow police access to their CCTVs. Members of public will also be able to submit videos to the police on crowdsourcing platforms.

This is a necessary, strategic and direct response to the evolving nature of the threats.

Second, we will, where necessary, enact legislation, rules to require premises owners and organisers of major events to put in place necessary security measures.

For example, MHA will engage developers of large-scale building projects which are likely to have high volume of human traffic to factor in new security considerations at the design stage. Premises owners could be asked to put in place CCTV systems that meet baseline technical standards. We will also look at existing buildings. At major events, organisers may be, will be asked to screen persons before they enter the venue. During periods of heightened security alert, these measures will be enhanced.

There are good reasons for requiring these measures. Terrorist attacks in other places have focused on soft targets because there was little or no security protection. We need to do more, to partner with the private and people sectors to better protect these soft targets. In Paris at Stade de France, strict security checks were conducted by competent personnel at the entrances. Three would-be suicide bombers who wanted to go into the stadium were deterred by the checks, so their bombs went off outside. Imagine the consequences if they had managed to get into the stadium and then exploded themselves.

In the Jakarta attacks, the primary target appears not to have been the Sarinah Mall. They apparently were targeting a larger mall nearby but that mall had tight screening measures. They were deterred by that and went to the Sarinah Mall. If that larger mall did not have security measures, the impact of the attack would have been more devastating.


“We will all need to get used to more security and bag checks prior to entry”: K Shanmugam Sc on heightened security measures to be rolled out for major events and critical infrastructure. http://bit.ly/1R3ER1X
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, March 18, 2016


The proposed increased security measures will increase building and operating costs. This unfortunately cannot be avoided. The terrorists have imposed multiple costs on society ranging from increased costs due to heightened security measures, to the costs to the social fabric.

The Home Team will work with premises owners and event organisers to safeguard the security of the people who patronise their premises and attend their events. For visitors, there will be more inconvenience. We will all need to get used to more security and bag checks prior to entry. But I believe that our people will understand and accept the need for these measures.

SECURITY RESPONSE

These are preventive, protective measures that we intend to put in place with necessary legislation. But we must assume that even with all these measures, some attacks will get through, so we will also enhance our ability to respond to these attacks. When an attack takes place, the speed and the manner in which we respond will be critical in taking down the attackers and limiting the damage.

The Home Team has studied the recent attacks. We will upgrade our capabilities and modify our operational set-up so that we can better deal with these challenges. It is critical for our security forces to arrive quickly - the current norms have to change, and they must have the capacity to take down the attackers, which means enhancing the numbers. These forces must be mentally prepared, tactically well-trained, and well-equipped to react quickly to the situation.

The Paris attacks revealed the challenges in dealing with armed violence staged at multiple locations. Paris had well-trained front-line responders and specialised units. Even then, post-incident analysis showed that there were substantial periods when the terrorists operated with little or no hindrance. One officer arrived at the Bataclan concert hall 15 minutes into the attack. He managed to stall the killing by shooting one attacker. But this officer was then ordered to withdraw in favour of a more specialised anti-terrorism unit; that unit arrived half an hour into the assault. By that time, the killing was effectively over. The specialised anti-terrorism unit initially headed towards restaurants on the Rue de Charonne where the killing had ended more than 20 minutes before that.

Police have studied these shootings. We will reorganise the police response forces to a terrorist incident, enhance their firepower and operational capability, and deploy them in a way so that they can arrive faster at any location in Singapore. This is going to be absolutely critical to deal with the mode of terrorist attacks where the aim of the attackers is to kill as many people as they can and inflict maximum damage and fear.

We will form new Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) to respond quickly, engage the attackers and minimise the casualties. This means increasing the number of personnel and the ERTs. We have to increase the number of police officers to be trained. They will be specially trained with counter- assault skills and equipped with the necessary weapons. Day to day, they will patrol the terrain and engage stakeholders to build familiarity with the areas they will be in charge of. The aim is to significantly upgrade our immediate response capability.

We will also enhance the response of the second wave of forces. These are the specialist teams from the Special Operations Command and the Gurkha Contingent. They will be enabled to arrive at the scene faster. On top of this, the Home Team will also work more closely with the SAF to deal with the threat, where necessary.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

Next, let me talk about community response. Our ability to deal with terrorism effectively as a country depends on how many Singaporeans face up to, and respond, to this challenge as individuals and as members of the community. I mentioned earlier that the aim of the attackers is to inflict maximum fear and casualties and divide society. This is why the cornerstone of a counter-terrorism strategy has to be a community response plan - one that enhances community vigilance, community cohesion and community resilience.

This is not a completely new strategy. After the London incidents of July 2005, we introduced the Community Engagement Programme (CEP). This was to ensure that we were better equipped to maintain social cohesion and unity should an attack take place. Just stay united in a crisis.

Over the years, through the CEP, we have built networks of community leaders and influencers. They have helped strengthen the understanding and ties between different races and religions. These are networks that can be activated when a crisis occurs. For example, after the Paris attacks, customised messages were disseminated through these networks.

Given today's threat environment, we will have to revamp the CEP considerably. There is a strong, urgent need for the community to be vigilant before and during an attack. A community that knows how to respond, a community that is prepared and equipped with the necessary skills to protect themselves, their families and the community.

SG SECURE

With these considerations in mind, the Home Team will develop and launch a new national programme, which we will call "SG Secure". SG Secure will represent our national strategy to safeguard our homeland and our way of life against this threat. Just as we have "Total Defence", which involves every Singaporean playing a part for the defence of Singapore, SG Secure must become a rallying call for Singaporeans from all walks of life to unite, to play a part in making Singapore a safe place that it is today.


"SG Secure will represent our national strategy to safeguard our homeland and our way of life": K Shanmugam Sc. http://bit.ly/1PfLWIz
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, March 18, 2016


It has to be a new national movement to sensitise, organise, train and exercise Singaporeans, so that we can better protect ourselves from attacks. SG Secure cannot be just another public awareness campaign. It has to be a call to action. It has to be a movement.

We have to execute this in a systematic, structured and sustained manner and I don't underestimate the difficulties. Training up our own forces, increasing the numbers that we have, increasing the number of ERTs, getting building premises owners to put in measures, all these we can do through legislation, through effort. But getting the community together in this new movement is a different ball game and it is not going to be easy. But we have to try and we have to do it. It can only be achieved if we can get everyone to participate. It will take time and resources from all in society. But it has to be done, to keep Singapore safe and secure.

We will reach out to Singaporeans in neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, the NS community and community groups. We will work with partners to develop or enhance programmes to sensitise, train and mobilise different groups of Singaporeans.

They will be empowered and enabled to:
- Stay alert - be vigilant and alert to unusual behaviour or items in their surroundings, know how to respond and protect themselves, their family and their friends;
- Stay united - cherish and safeguard Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious social fabric;
- Stay strong - be ready to deal with crises if they occur, be resilient as individuals and as a community, help each other bounce back quickly and overcome adversity.
There is another aspect to the community response, to which we have to pay a lot of attention and work with some of the other agencies and ministries, and that relates to, not the cases of self-radicalisation but the causes of self-radicalisation, including the influence of preachers, whether local or foreign, who advocate intolerance, and the influences from online, and how we can inoculate Singaporeans against these trends. We will pay a lot of attention to that as well. None of these is going to be easy.

The Home Team will roll out SG Secure, together with our partners, later this year. We will urge all Singaporeans to come on board and take an active role in this programme: (i) to understand the security landscape and the threats that we face; (ii) to be equipped with right skills; and (iii) to help spread the messages of vigilance, cohesion and resilience to friends, families and colleagues. There will be emergency preparedness exercises; we will have to get them upgraded significantly from where they are now.

So if an attack occurs, we need to be able to recover well. The day after is even more important. We have to emerge stronger, more united and more determined as Singaporeans. If we look at what happened in Paris and Jakarta, after the Paris attacks, social media users posted the hashtag #PorteOuverte, which means "open door", to offer shelter and help to those on the streets with nowhere to go. It was organic and a ground-up response - overwhelming. After the Jakarta attacks, Indonesians started tweeting #KamiTidakTakut, which means "we are not afraid". This goes back to the heart of the issue. The terrorists wanted to spread fear and alarm and the population responds - we open our doors to strangers because they have nowhere to go; we tell the attackers that we are not afraid; we will fight back. That is what we need. We must have that same spirit in Singapore.

The terrorism threat to us is real. We will take all precautions to prevent a terrorist attack from taking place in Singapore. We, the Home Team agencies, will do our utmost. We hope we never have an attack but if an attack occurs, we have to prepare Singaporeans with psychological and other skills, to come together and emerge stronger.

A Singapore that is even more united and determined to safeguard our way of life, our racial and religious harmony. A Singapore, where every Singaporean knows that he or she can rely on fellow countrymen. This is how we must be able to respond to terrorism.

The fight ultimately is one between Freedom and Terror; a fight between Liberty and Servitude; a fight between the spirit of Humanity and the forces of Darkness; or very simply, a fight between Good and Evil. I don't believe that the terrorists will ever win in the longer term. We must believe that we can never be kept down by terror. Liberty, Freedom and the Human Spirit will ultimately succeed. But we have to be prepared to fight for it.

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