Without Warning, Next Month, There Will Be Explosions

SOME time in November or December, bomb blasts will be heard in as many as four MRT stations here. The Ministry of Home Affairs wants to know how well- prepared Singaporeans are if terrorists strike and, unlike other SCDF exercises, Singaporeans won’t have a choice as to whether or not they want to take part.

There will be no warning, no schedule. If you happen to be a commuter at the selected stations — and the exercise is likely to take place during peak hours — Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng is waiting to see how ready you are.

“Please cooperate with us, please carry on as normal, but at the same time please play a part. But as to when it will happen, we will not say — there is no warning by terrorists before they bomb a station,” said Mr Wong in an exclusive interview with Today.

In fact, when he heard about the July 7 terror attacks on London’s subway trains, his thoughts turned naturally to Singapore.

“I thought, despite all the preparations they’ve made, it has happened to them. Which means, despite all the preparations that we’re making, or have made, it can happen to us,” said Mr Wong, who is also the Home Affairs Minister.

He commended the London authorities and Londoners for the way in which they dealt with the attacks. Would Singaporeans be as brave? “I hope they would respond the same way,” said Mr Wong.

The exercise in November may offer some clues, though officials here started taking notes much earlier.

Soon after the London blasts, a team of police officers from Singapore visited London to see what lessons could be drawn from the tragedy.

Mr Wong was coy about sharing details. “The last thing you want to do is to let the enemy know what you’re doing.”

But he added: “We’ve learned a lot. And in time, we’ll share that with others … But looking at how Londoners reacted to the bombing, and how they went about their normal lives, I think that is something Singaporeans should learn.”

His greatest fear is that if, or when, terrorists succeed in hitting Singapore, its citizens will flee. “We have to make sure that we can’t be defeated by this,” he said. “If a bomb explodes and (people) run away, I think the terrorists will have won. We cannot let ourselves be defeated by our own doing; we have to stand up and say: ‘No, we must persist and we must carry on.'” — Teo Hwee Nak

Extracted from TODAYonline.