Wake up to terror threat, Singaporeans cautioned

Singapore-Deputy-Prime-Minister-Teo-Chee-HeanSINGAPORE: Singaporeans have been advised to learn how to protect themselves and what to do in the event of a terror attack.

The region, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean reminded them last night, was becoming increasingly less safe.

Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security, said: “If you know simple things like ‘Where are the exits? What do you do if somebody starts shooting? Which are the emergency numbers to call and what are the kinds of things you should tell them?’ — (these) can make the difference on yourself and your loved ones between life and death in a serious situation and help the security forces in a very, very major way.”

He said in an interview with Channel News Asia’s Conversation With programme that the threat of terrorism had heightened in light of the “intensity and speed” with which some people in Southeast Asia were joining terror organisations overseas.

Part of the problem was the misuse of the Internet to spread extremist ideologies, he said

Today Online quoted him as saying: “If you take 1980s, 1990s, there were perhaps 200, 300 people from Southeast Asia who went to Afghanistan to take part in the fighting. But in the last two or three years, we have had something like 1,000 people from Southeast Asia join IS.

“The Internet is a qualitative difference … we’re also having more lone wolf attacks — the radicalisation of individuals who go on the Net, pick up these ideas and techniques on how to carry out simple terrorist attacks and go out and do so.”

IS, the Today Online report said, had specifically targeted the region, producing recruitment videos and newsletters in regional languages such as Bahasa Indonesia that ask people to join the battle in Iraq and Syria or do so in their own countries.

Already, some of the returning fighters have carried out successful attacks, such as in Jakarta earlier this year, while the authorities in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have arrested radicalised individuals.

Teo cautioned Singaporeans against being complacent as the threat was real and Singapore had become less safe.
“If we deal with it just as more people on the borders or more security personnel, more armed people at the airports, I don’t think we’re really getting our handle on the problem. So it has to be dealt with also at the social level,” he added.

He said society must maintain inclusiveness and understanding of other religions and cultures.

“If we want to focus on the differences between us, we can always find the differences and there will always be demagogues who will exploit these kinds of differences to carve up societies, to draw people apart, to create conflict — and often, in order to promote themselves and to become leaders of some group or organisation — and we should resist that.”