SINGAPORE: Amid a heightened security landscape, the Government is doing more to prepare businesses in the event of a terror threat, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said at the National Security Conference organised by the Singapore Business Federation on Tuesday (Sep 26).
Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security, said that the terrorist threat to Singapore is at its highest since the dismantling of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group in 2001, and that Singapore's security agencies are working hard to detect, prevent and deal with potential attacks.
One major effort is the SGSecure movement which aims to sensitise, train and mobilise the community, said Mr Teo. But the Government wants to do more to prepare businesses to deal with a potential terror threat, he added.
"This means preparing our workforce to deal with the terrorist threat, creating protected workplaces with response plans ready to kick in should an incident occur, partnering the community to maintain vigilance and improve our readiness to respond," said Mr Teo.
To do this, the SGSecure Guide for Workplaces was developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Home Team and other partners to lay out what companies should do in the event of a terror attack.
MOM said the goal was to get companies to be "SGSecure engaged", which includes getting companies to appoint and register a SGSecure representative with the ministry to serve as a key point of contact.
The ministry aims to have 30,000 SGSecure-engaged companies with a registered representative by 2020.
ENHANCING BIZSAFE CERTIFICATION
Mr Teo said businesses must also develop effective contingency plans to secure their workplaces, and that the bizSAFE workplace health and safety programme has been enhanced to help them do so.
Under this enhanced framework, business leaders will learn how to identify risks and develop risk management plans for their companies. The plans will be audited by qualified personnel.
MOM aims to have 27,000 companies meet the enhanced bizSAFE requirements by 2020. Companies that are already bizSAFE-certified will be required to renew their certification and meet these enhanced requirements within the next three years.
MOM said it had also identified five priority sectors - food and beverage, retail, entertainment, hotels and transport - which tend to have a high concentration of people and a higher likelihood of being targeted.
The Singapore Business Federation's chairman Teo Siong Seng highlighted the cost of terror threats to companies here.
"The International Monetary Fund has stated that Singapore is exposed to external volatility and risks, as we are a city-state with an open economy," he said. "Terror attacks which take place in the region would also affect Singapore companies, given our connectivity and close business partnerships with foreign companies."
BUILDING RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS HARMONY, COMMUNITY TRUST
The Deputy Prime Minister also said that the business community can make significant contributions to build racial and religious harmony, social cohesion and community trust.
"This will help reduce the likelihood of social tensions, strife and security threats," he said. "This is also important for resilience for companies, communities and our nation in order to recover from an attack."
Mr Teo added that Singapore has introduced important institutions, laws and regulations to help prevent conflict, and keep all communities together.
Such efforts include the Group Representative Constituency system to assure minority communities that they will always have representation in Parliament, said Mr Teo.
"Similarly, the changes to the Elected Presidency ensure that members of the major racial communities in Singapore can hold the highest office of President if this has not happened after five continuous terms, or 30 years."
Mr Teo noted that Singapore enjoys harmony because "these guide ropes and guard rails help us progress on our journey towards our aspiration to be one united people, regardless of race, language or religion".