TODAY Online - Attack on Singapore a matter of when, not if, says Shanmugam

The comments came after the terror attacks in Brussels that killed more than 31 people


While Singapore steps up its ability to respond to terror attacks in a significant way, major cities cannot be entirely locked down like a prison, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Wednesday (March 23), as he reiterated that it was a matter of “when” and not “if” a terror attack hits.

Mr Shanmugam was commenting on the terror attacks in Brussels on Tuesday that killed more than 31 people, on the sidelines of a community event at the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple in Yishun.

The attack underscored the difficulty of protecting cities from terror, said Mr Shanmugam. “Brussels was in a heightened state of alert, the highest state of alert, and yet it was attacked,” he said. 

Last Friday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced a raft of counter-terrorism measures to deal with the heightened threat. These include greater closed-circuit television surveillance across the island and new laws where necessary to require owners of premises and organisers of major events to put in place security measures.

In response to queries, the MHA said on Wednesday that following the Brussels attack, security agencies here immediately stepped up checks and patrols at the air, land and sea checkpoints and key transport nodes.

“We will calibrate security measures according to the threat environment,” the ministry said, adding that the public should report to the authorities any suspicious item or person promptly.

While Singapore continues to upgrade its ability to respond to potential attacks, Mr Shanmugam noted that no city is immune, and that “the nature of the threat has morphed substantially” and has become a “serious monster”.

He added: “But again I emphasise, unless you turn the entire city into a prison, it’s not going to be possible to counter every possible attack. We have to significantly rely on intelligence to deter; and in the case of Singapore, we have the ability to intervene early because we have the Internal Security Act.”

He also noted that if a place becomes a “hotbed for terrorism”, it is also because of how the different communities have been interacting with each other.

Singapore has for a very long time emphasised harmony between religions and races, but this is not the case in many cities, he noted.

Source: TODAY Online

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