Friday, 29 September 2017

SGSecure for Workplaces: Singapore rolls out guidelines on dealing with terrorist attacks at the workplace

Businesses have key role in anti-terror strategy: DPM Teo
He sets out ways in which they can ensure workers and workplaces are ready to handle a terror attack
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2017

Businesses are a key pillar in Singapore's overall strategy to fortify the country and keep it safe against terror attacks, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, set out ways they can get their workplace and workers ready to deal with the destruction and trauma in the event of a terror attack.

These include training workers on emergency preparedness such as first aid and in using defibrillators on people suffering cardiac arrests, as well as training business leaders to identify risks and develop risk-management plans.

To help them, SGSecure Guide For Workplaces, a guidebook that lays out in simple and concrete steps what companies can do, was launched yesterday. It will be given to about 151,000 companies by early next year.

These moves were unveiled at an annual national security conference attended by about 520 business representatives and government officials.

The moves are being made as the terrorist threat to Singapore is at its highest level since 2001, when the Jemaah Islamiah terror group was dismantled, said Mr Teo.

And this week, the authorities confirmed that a fighter in an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda video on social media is a Singaporean named Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad.

Also, 11 Singaporeans have been detained and another six issued with Restriction Orders since 2015, more than in the seven years before that.

ISIS and its affiliates are active in the region, Mr Teo said, citing the Marawi conflict in the southern Philippines, the seizure of bomb-making chemicals in Java and the arrest of ISIS supporters in Malaysia.

It was against this backdrop that the SGSecure movement was launched last year, to sensitise, train and mobilise the community to such threats. Yesterday, Mr Teo laid out key areas for businesses to work on.

First, employees must be equipped to protect themselves and their colleagues in an attack.

The public sector will take the lead in preparing its officers for such an emergency, said Mr Teo.

Second, businesses must have contingency plans to protect their workplaces from terror threats. The bizSafe framework has been enhanced to guide them.

Underlining the importance of contingency plans, Mr Teo cited how Morgan Stanley's plan and evacuation drills saved most of its employees in the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.

When the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York was struck, the firm's director of security told its employees in the South Tower to leave immediately.

Mr Teo said: "Employees were already on their way down the stairs when the South Tower was hit about 20 minutes later.''

Third, companies can partner their communities to strengthen vigilance and boost their ability to respond to crises together.

Mr Teo pointed to an exercise last month to test the finance industry's contingency plans against physical and cyber attacks. It involved financial institutions, building managements and government agencies.

He also called on the business community to help build social cohesion and trust as these will help Singapore recover from an attack.

"Our racial and religious harmony is a key strength," he said.

Other steps that the Government will take include simulation exercises, especially in five priority sectors where large crowds gather: food and beverage, retail, entertainment, hotels and transport.

Singapore Business Federation chairman Teo Siong Seng said at the conference that while businesses are more aware of the severity of terror threats, their level of preparedness is not up to par. "Companies cited difficulty getting staff buy-in as (employees) do not expect terror attacks to happen in Singapore."

SGSecure will shift focus to lifting levels of preparedness: Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam
Many people 'not mentally tuned' to being prepared in case of terror attack: Shanmugam
By Cheow Sue-Ann, The Straits Times, 28 Sep 2017

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.

Everyone's job to keep Singapore safe
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 28 Sep 2017

The new nationwide push to get workplaces better prepared for terror attacks is a welcome and vital move. It assures workers, who spend about half their waking hours at work, as well as customers gathering at their favourite eateries or nightspots, that close attention is being paid to their security.

Also, it further protects Singapore's small and open economy. A terrorist attack would severely dent its reputation as a safe country and shake business confidence, which would in turn reduce job opportunities for workers.

The dangers cannot be over-emphasised.

On Tuesday, at the launch of the national SGSecure for Workplaces programme, the Government unveiled a guidebook on important preventive measures companies should put in place. These include raising their staff's awareness of emergency procedures and having risk management plans that take into account terror threats. The Government also identified five priority sectors where it will focus its outreach programme . These are food and beverage, retail, entertainment, hotels and transport.

Companies generally support the new security drive. But small firms may worry about the extra cost of educating their staff and having more security measures like closed-circuit TV cameras.

It would be money well spent as the cost of being unprepared would be far worse. It could include loss of lives and limbs, damage and destruction of property as well as disruption of business operations.

As Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean noted at Tuesday's national security meeting, business leaders would act when they see inefficiencies or unsafe practices at their workplaces because these affect their workers' safety and well-being as well as the company's continuity and reputation.

Preparedness for potential attacks should rank just as highly among their concerns.

With the terrorist threat at its highest level since 2001, security is one area Singapore cannot afford to slip up on. From workers being alert to their surroundings to bosses making security a priority, everyone plays a vital part in keeping Singapore safe.

No comments:

Post a Comment