Strengthen community bonds to guard against terror threat: PM Lee

SINGAPORE – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (March 19) called on Singaporeans to strengthen community bonds as a way to thwart the menace of terrorism.

Should an attack happen here, the terrorists would be aiming not just to hurt people, but to divide Singaporeans as well, he said.

That is why Singaporeans should get to know their neighbours and make friends with people from other races. Every little act counts, he added, from holding the lift door open to offering snacks to others.

“The stronger our kampung spirit, the less able the terrorists will be to break us,” he said at the Emergency Preparedness day in his ward at Teck Ghee, which is part of the SGSecure outreach to neighbourhoods.

During the event, Mr Lee announced a new initiative to equip grassroots leaders and volunteers in all 89 constituencies with the skills and knowledge to help residents overcome the psychological trauma inflicted by a terrorist attack.

The ‘Human Emergency Assistance and Response Team’ (HEART) comprises psychologists and counsellors from the Home Team, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, and the Institute of Mental Health, who will train volunteers in psychological first aid.

Community responders from Ang Mo Kio GRC were among the first to be trained under the initiative. Over time, responders from all 89 constituencies will be trained to ensure each ward is equipped to support affected residents and their families after an attack.

Mr Lee encouraged residents to acquire life-saving skills and knowledge such as how use automated external defibrillators (AEDs), so that everyone in the community will know how to respond to a terrorist attack in Singapore.

He also urged them to download the SGSecure mobile application, which has been updated with new features.

The app can now provide users with customised alerts on emergency incidents occurring in specific locations in Singapore – such as office buildings, shopping malls or residential blocks – by keying in the relevant postal codes.

This will inform subscribers of any emergency incident near the specified location.

The SGSecure app will also send subscribers news alerts on terrorist attacks and related incidents in specific regions that Singaporeans have key interests in, for instance Southeast Asia and Europe.

The Government has stepped up its outreach to raise awareness of the terror threat and prepare residents to respond effectively in the event of an attack. It plans to engage schools and workplaces next.

Community volunteers and Home Team officers have visited more than 50,000 households since the official launch of the SGSecure movement in September 2016.

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