Firms must take security measures for crowded, high-risk events

Government will take practical approach to keep costs reasonable for businesses complying to new laws


LAWS will be amended later in the year to ensure that businesses play a part in keeping Singapore safe from terrorist attacks.

The Public Order Act will be tweaked to require businesses to put in place security measures for events which draw big crowds and those deemed to be at high risk, said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee.

Speaking during his ministry's Committee of Supply debate on Friday, he said the government will also introduce a bill for a new Infrastructure Protection Act to safeguard infrastructure and buildings.

His announcements came two days after Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told Channel News Asia of plans to introduce two new laws this year, which will require building owners and event organisers to follow tighter rules.

In his speech on Friday, Mr Lee said the government is mindful of the impact of the new requirements on businesses, but added that they are necessary under a shared effort to guard against security threats.

He said the government will still take a "practical approach" to keep the costs to businesses reasonable.

"This is a cost which terrorism has imposed on society as a whole," he said. "The government has borne a significant share of this cost. Communities have been roped in to play their part through SGSecure.

"And we seek the business community's understanding that these measures are necessary as a shared effort to keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe."

(SGSecure was launched last September to educate the public on what to do in a terrorist attack.)

Among businesses, Mr Lee singled out the private security industry as an important partner in ensuring Singapore's safety and security.

He said his ministry will work with the tripartite partners to develop an Industry Transformation Map for the industry, with a strong focus on innovation and technology, as well as upgrading of jobs and skills.

In his opening remarks on Friday's debate, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam disclosed that the number of people nabbed for drug abuse fell 3 per cent last year, but that the number of new cases - especially among young people - has jumped. Two in three new abusers last year were aged below 30.

He noted that last year, the National Council Against Drug Abuse found young people under 30 years old to be more open-minded towards drugs than those who took part in a similar survey in 2013.

The minister added that the increase in the number of new drug abusers was compounded by the rise in online drug peddling.

He said: "Online black market sites allow users to buy drugs anonymously. The drugs are couriered in small parcels which are unmarked, innocuous-looking and difficult to track. The young are especially susceptible."

Many people think that only youth from low-income households are vulnerable, but Mr Shanmugam said a study commissioned by the Task Force on Youths and Drugs found most cannabis abusers to be from middle or high socio-economic backgrounds; in fact, many of them did well in school.

"The Central Narcotics Bureau will take active measures, together with our community partners, to tackle this concern," he said.


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