Organisations' support essential in keeping Singapore safe and terrorism at bay
In August 2021, SBS Transit senior technician Muhammad Hisham Muslim was boarding the Downtown line train at Chinatown when he saw a man carrying a long object.
Worried that it was a rifle, he alerted the station manager at Telok Ayer station who also reported the incident to the Public Transport Security Command.
Fortunately, it was a false alarm and the item turned out to be an umbrella.
Mr Hisham, 51, had put what he had learnt at the public transport operator into practice after undergoing a security enhancement programme, Threat-Oriented Person Screening Integrated System (Topsis), conducted by the company.
It teaches staff to identify suspicious objects and people.
Rolled out in 2009 by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Topsis aimed to enhance security levels especially in places with high human traffic.
Mr Hisham said everybody has a part to play to keep the public transport network safe. He makes it a point to stay vigilant and keep a lookout for anything that seems out of place or unusual.
For adopting Topsis successfully, SBS Transit was one of 18 organisations to win an award for its efforts in Topsis initiatives at the 11th National Safety and Security Watch Group (SSWG) Award Ceremony on Wednesday.
SBS Transit was also recognised for switching its physical training to virtual classes during the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure all 11,000 employees continued to be trained.
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, MHA and Ministry of Social and Family Development, attended the ceremony, which was jointly organised by the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
She praised Mr Hisham for his vigilance.
Said Ms Sun: "While the object was thankfully not a weapon, it serves to remind the community that everyone can contribute by reporting suspicious persons, objects and activities."
She also highlighted the importance of staying vigilant and prepared as Singapore continues to be a target for terrorists.
In July, the Internal Security Department said there was currently no specific intelligence of an imminent terrorist attack on Singapore, but noted that since 2015, 45 self-radicalised individuals - comprising 33 Singaporeans and 12 foreigners - have been issued orders of detention or restriction orders under the Internal Security Act.
Ms Sun added that many government efforts also require active participation by businesses and a wider community as part of a whole-of-society effort.
She said: "The SSWGs constitutes a crucial network that allows the police and the SCDF to work with building owners to enhance overall preparedness and readiness against attacks."
A total of 137 members received the SSWG awards for their efforts in enhancing the safety and security of their workplaces.
This includes conducting table-top exercises for contingency plans and working with the police and the SCDF to strengthen their buildings' security measures against crime and terrorism.
Organisations are also split into clusters according to their locations. Within each cluster, members will meet regularly to discuss strategies to enhance security in the vicinity.
There are more than 1,600 members and 196 clusters.
At the Merbau Cluster at Jurong Island, which includes 10 organisations, security staff have been trained to detect illegal items like contraband cigarettes.
In early 2021, a man was caught smuggling contraband cigarettes and alcohol into the compound and was handed to the authorities.