Monday 30 May 2016

Emergency Preparedness Day: SG Secure in the Neighbourhood

Shanmugam calls for unity when terror strikes
He says need to come together as a community just as important as ability to cope during actual attack
By Ng Huiwen, The Sunday Times, 29 May 2016

Coming together as a society after a terrorist attack is as important as learning how to cope during the actual incident, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

Besides knowing how to respond from the outset, citizens need a sense of "community cohesiveness" to move on, he said, speaking at Chong Pang's revamped Emergency Preparedness Day, the first of a series of exercises to prepare people for possible terror scenarios.

There have been terror attacks around the region and security agencies arresting people in neighbouring countries, while the authorities here have seized plans to attack Singapore and arrested those wanting to attack the Republic and assassinate its leaders, he pointed out.

"If an attack takes place, how do we react the day after? Do we point fingers at each other in our multiracial, multi-religious society? Or are we able to come together as a society and move on?"

He added: "The aim of terrorists is to divide us... and it becomes more fertile ground for them to recruit people. We need to come together and say that this is an isolated incident by some radicalised elements."

Mr Shanmugan, who is also an MP for Nee Soon GRC, was speaking to residents after he watched a simulated terror attack yesterday morning, where two gunmen stormed a heartland coffee shop and took five people hostage.

More than 1,000 residents turned up for the event, where they learnt basic first-aid skills as well as some practical lessons on dealing with such situations: by first running away, then hiding and telling the police.

Mr Shanmugam's ward, Chong Pang, is the first of six neighbourhoods to pilot the revamped Emergency Preparedness Day.

The exercise is among new measures to increase vigilance and speed up security response under the national SG Secure programme. In the community, the hope is to have at least one trained person in every household.

This comes at a time when Mr Shanmugam reiterated that there is a "clear and present" terror threat.

Just two days ago, six Bangladeshi workers, aged between 26 and 31, were charged with financing terrorism under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act. They had been detained here last month under the Internal Security Act for planning attacks back home in hopes of toppling the Bangladeshi government.

At yesterday's event, residents toured various booths and exhibitions. About 200 of them were given a free home first-aid kit after going through the basic skills training successfully.

One of them, retiree Yee Ah Yat, 74, said in Mandarin: "Singapore is safe for now, but it is also about being prepared.

"Now, I know how to help my friends if there's an emergency."

Over the next two years, the People's Association hopes to reach out to 20,000 residents through Emergency Preparedness Days held across all 89 constituencies.

Defence of Singapore cannot be outsourced, says Desmond Lee
By Kelly Ng, TODAY, 30 May 2016

The responsibility for keeping Singapore safe in terms of education and outreach cannot be outsourced to auxiliary police officers, Senior Minister of State (Home Affairs) Desmond Lee said yesterday at the revamped Emergency Preparedness (EP) Day held at Jurong Spring.

“We’re involving community volunteers, full-time national servicemen, teachers, educators and Singaporeans from all walks of life to drive the (counter-terror) message home because it’s important to us,” he said.

“(The EP day) is not just a programme but a national movement, which everyone needs to participate in because the stakes are very high.”

The revamped EP Day, a centrepiece of the SG Secure national movement, involves staged terror attacks and workshops that aim to “sensitise, train and equip” residents with skills and information to respond to a terrorist attack.

Mr Lee’s remarks to reporters were in relation to a letter in TODAY, which suggested that police work could be optimised by having auxiliary police officers conduct public education on dealing with terror attacks.

This came after it was announced that Home Team officers will be deployed, under a new citizen engagement vocation within the neighbourhoods, to teach residents how to safely evacuate a location under attack and encourage them to participate in the EP Day.

Yesterday, Jurong grassroots members launched a pocket community emergency guide, which features various emergency contacts and basic tips such as using a fire extinguisher and administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This guide will be rolled out to all other constituencies in Singapore.

“(It) is a good example of how each of us, as residents, can play a part to reach out to fellow residents by sharing information on how we can keep ourselves, our families and friends, safe and secure,” said Mr Lee.

The revamped EP Day will also be held across all constituencies in the next two years. During yesterday’s drill at Jurong Spring, two suspicious-looking men left a bag unattended at an automated teller machine below a block of flats. Residents in the vicinity reported the matter to the police, who helped evacuate them from the block.

Meanwhile, police officers covered the suspicious article with a bomb suppression blanket. A special task force from the Singapore Armed Forces then removed it using an improvised explosive device.

Trained community volunteer Chua Boy, 66, who played a resident who had a cardiac arrest during the evacuation, said it was especially important for elderly residents to know how to react in case of an attack.

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