The Ministry of Home Affairs released a Terrorism Threat Assessment Report.
The first sign that we should pay attention is that this report is not the usual run-of-mill report like the annual crime statistics which the Home Team releases regularly.
Something must have prompted it.
The report started with a bleak picture:
“The terrorism threat to Singapore remains the highest in recent years. Singapore was specifically targeted in the past year and the regional threat has heightened. Even though there is no credible intelligence of an imminent attack at this point in time, our security agencies remain on high vigilance. The public should continue to stay alert and be prepared.“
It listed the ISIS and terrorist-linked activities around the regio signalling that the threat was coming closer than ever to us.
Then the more alarming fact:
“ISIS has demonstrated that Singapore is very much on its radar. It had already plotted to carry out two attacks against Singapore that the authorities are aware of.
Last year, there was reliable information that foreign ISIS militants were considering carrying out an attack in Singapore in the first half of 2016. The Singapore authorities acted swiftly but discreetly to mitigate the threat. “
Two attacks against Singapore was planned, but thankfully thwarted last year.
Where were we when it happened? Should we care that it happened since it was last year and water under the bridge?
If we subscribe to the idea that counterterrorism is the sole responsibility of the authorities, then it would have been alright to have read this is as “Oh by the way, you know, we had some terrorists trying to blow themselves up somewhere here, but it’s ok, we got it.” and continue with our daily routines.
However, the entire government machinery has been heavily investing in a campaign to shift the worrying mindset which had been the default for many years, that the government will do it alone, and that as taxpayers, it is their responsibility to keep me safe. That is what the SGSecure Campaign has been about, changing mindsets.
Given that the threat is worsening, it makes sense that every person out there walking our streets should learn to be vigilant, and be prepared to react should something really happen.
· Rather than expect the streets to be crawling with patrol officers, and installing more and more CCTV cameras, we must train the use of our eyes and ears, and hone our instincts to suspicious behaviours and characters.
· Rather than be helpless and only knowing how to dial 995 if something happens one day, everyone should learn basic first aid.
· Rather than sit around and point fingers at the authorities questioning why the terrorists managed to get in should that day ever happen, or worse, pointing fingers at each other, we should be mentally ready to soldier on in solidarity and not let them get the better of us.
· And the most difficult of all – when the day ever comes that one of our close friends or family members are showing signs of being self-radicalised, rather than be in denial or trying to reverse the situation ourselves, we need to brace ourselves and do something to stop them before it is too late.
This threat assessment report’s signal is clear – we are on their radars, and their chances of success will only be lessened if we, the citizens of Singapore, play our role as guardians of Singapore. They only need one chance. Nonchalance and indifference could well be the root of our downfall.
This is surely one of those issues where we have to hang up our “pro-PAP” or “anti-PAP” cloaks, and don the “Pro-Singapore” one. Otherwise, #touchwood there will be no place to call home when the day ever comes.