Singapore to introduce new laws on building, events security: Shanmugam

Singapore to introduce new laws on building, events security: Shanmugam

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam shared these plans with Channel NewsAsia ahead of his ministries' Committee of Supply debate.

SINGAPORE: To boost public safety, Singapore plans to introduce two new laws this year that will require building owners and event organisers to follow tighter security rules, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday (Mar 1), Mr Shanmugam said: "We need to make sure that we have the right tools to make sure that there's proper infrastructure protection, so there will be legislation - the Infrastructure Protection Bill - which we will put to Parliament on how to harden our buildings."

When announcing the measures last year, he had said critical infrastructure like Changi Airport and Government buildings as well as soft targets like entertainment centres and shopping centres - will see “significant” expansion of CCTV coverage.

On Wednesday, Mr Shanmugam said the newly formed anti-terror police unit will step up patrols islandwide as well. "People may have already seen our emergency response troops on the ground, patrolling in their gear in key areas. We intend to have this in many more areas," he said.

Still, he stressed that members of the public must play their part, referencing the SGSecure movement which encourages people to be vigilant and report potential threats. So far, grassroots volunteers and officers from the police and civil defence forces have reached out to about 50,000 out of the estimated 1.2 million households in Singapore. "That's a very significant number if you look at the short runway we've had," said Mr Shanmugam.

In the wake of a breach in the Defence Ministry's Internet system, where 850 national servicemen and employees had their data stolen, Mr Shanmugam also spoke on cybersecurity threats to Singapore.

Because of cyber connectivity, public sector and even private sector agencies here could be subject to attack, he noted, "both from state actors outside of Singapore and criminals".

He warned that certain sections of the population could be targeted. "Today, the way it is done is that you have an army of people spreading misinformation ... supported by a large number of bots that will look like they are real (people), have real names and go out there and try to make certain topics trend, bring information (that is) completely false to as large a number of people as possible.

"I'm not talking about any one country. These are all becoming standard fare," he said.

And specific agencies could be targeted as well. "Your power grids, your transport networks. It can cause great disruption and loss of lives, and serious injury," said Mr Shanmugam. "It can also be used for espionage.

"You just have to be aware and have a national strategy to deal with it," he said.

Source: CNA/ly