Terrorism: Are we too blasé about the dangers?

Over the weekend the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force conducted an “Emergency Preparedness Day” in Teck Ghee. A “live” exercise was simulated right in front of the market at Blk 415.

But have a read on some of the comments:

“Wayang”, said one.

“Such exercise is not practical”, said another.

“Look more like ninja turtles on drama rehearsals lol”, laughed a third.

Overwhelmingly, comments are mocking the exercise and many offering suggestions to the team on how they can better conduct an exercise next time.

I think we’re taking our safety far too much for granted. All around us in the region, bombs have went off, people killed and their military is on perpetual alert. Us? We’re still trying to tell our citizens that it’s “not if, but when”. As if nobody thinks it will happen.

We’re known to be a safe country not merely because of a strict, no-nonsense justice system, but also because of formidable law enforcement, a strong economy that deters criminal activity and strong government-people bonding through the People’s Association.

Yet we laugh at these systems and many have even asked us to relax on these strict systems. Some want us to ease on our policing: cut down on the cameras, allow peaceful protests, police shouldn’t check our identity cards, cut down on plain clothes patrol because all these things intrude on our right to privacy.

Some politicians want us to take more antagonistic stances towards unfriendly countries. Some want us to broadcast a strong stand against particular groups, or to open our borders to refugees. All these are virtuous goals, but can end up creating more danger for our citizens. Is that a wise thing to do?

It’s quite sad to see these comments. It feels as if we have completely outsourced our security and defence to these pubic agencies. Because we’ve paid them, we’re at liberty to laugh at how they do things and even suggest how they can do it better.

The framework of defence in Singapore is built around five “pillars”: Military, Civil, Economic, Social and Psychological defence. It is only through the collective resilience can we have some measure of assurance.

Today, we’re actually unhappy for our economy to grow. Some of us seem to think that defence and protection is a matter for the military or police and not the everyday person. We seem to have lost sensitivity about how foreign powers are trying to influence local politics and create disagreement and discord.

We may be a safe country and we may have strong systems in place to guard against these elements. In fact, let’s thank our lucky stars that all we have to contend with are actors pretending to be terrorists and not the real thing.

So let’s spare them the mockery and start thinking about how we can get involved instead.



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