By Finger blogger: Andrea McKenna
With mass shootings, bomb attacks and weaponized cars driving through pedestrian walkways, many expats and others around the world wonder how we can keep ourselves safe in these troubled times.
While I’d rather think we are far from harm’s way in our little utopia here in Singapore, I must be realistic - nowhere is safe nowadays.
A few years ago, I would happily tell my friends from home that there was no way Singapore would be hit with terrorism. After seeing the government’s SG Secure ads around town, I see that I may not have had the right attitude. And now it has changed.
Here in Singapore, the idea is that it’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when it happens. In fact, that is the tag line for the SG Secure effort, a program that engages citizens to be vigilant and report incidents.
According to SGsecure.sg, Singapore aims to stay one step ahead of terrorism by being ready for it. As one of the member countries in the anti-ISIS coalition, Singapore has been named by ISIS as a target of terrorism. And the web page reminds us that attempts at attacks have happened before - the law enforcement foiled a rocket attack on Marina Bay by arresting individuals in Batam, Indonesia. Not forgetting the reports of Singaporeans having gone to Syria to fight for ISIS.
And that’s where the SG Secure program comes in - this national movement aims to to sensitise, train and mobilise the community to play a part to prevent and deal with a terrorist attack. It says: "The intent of terrorists is to inject fear and weaken the psychological resilience and social fabric of our society. This is why the cornerstone of our counter-terrorism strategy must be the strengthening of community vigilance, cohesion and resilience. We can all do our part to keep Singapore safe and secure.”
I have seen advertisements on buses and MRT stations that promote the SG Secure phone app, which allows you to provide information to authorities. While we need to remain alert, united and strong in terms of prevention, we also have to know what to do when incidents occur.
To help, the SG Secure ads tell you how to report an act of terrorism and how to stay safe, such as take a picture, call the police and get yourself out of there by following the “run, hide, tell,” method. Running is first priority; and have you considered how fast you can move with your kids? Are you faster carrying them or can they run on their own? Yes, you have to think about this.
You can also learn skills and information in person on how to protect yourself in a terrorist attack by taking part in Singapore’s EP or Emergency Preparedness Days all around Singapore (find out more here).
Having said all this, we can’t live in fear. We have to get on with our lives, which is something most terrorist experts and governments tell people when terrorism or violence strikes. I am thankful that Singapore has taken strong steps to makes sure that all of us know what to do.
About Andrea McKenna
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.