Tackling security threats in a porous world

Tackling security threats in a porous world

RAPID advances in technology may make life easier, but they also enable extremist ideologies to travel quickly.

There is therefore a need to be aware of global developments and adapt solutions to the local context, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday. DPM Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, said: "In regional security, we also need to think global and act local. "Things can go from small to big, from far to near, or the reverse, in a very short time."

Speaking at the opening of the 9th Asia Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers, the deputy premier added: "Due to the porosity of physical and virtual borders... and the vast variety of threats, we need a robust, partnership approach to address the national security challenges that we face now, and in the future."

The five-day annual event, held at the Marina Mandarin Hotel, allows security experts and academics to discuss topics such as the new trends in radicalisation. It is organised by the Centre of Excellence for National Security at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

About 80 participants from 27 countries, including Singapore, Australia and the United States, are taking part.

Cyberspace also poses new dangers when it comes to terrorism and crime.

DPM Teo gave the example of terrorist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that use social media to attract recruits from all over the world. It is estimated that more than 90,000 messages from 46,000 Twitter accounts are sent by ISIS supporters daily.

Mr Wong Choon Bong, deputy director at the Ministry of Communications and Information's preparedness and resilience division, said: "The threat landscape in... cyberspace is real and rapidly evolving.

"We need to continually learn from security incidents happening here and elsewhere."

But solutions to such threats should be adapted to suit local conditions.

"We can learn from other countries... For example, Malaysia has set up a (committee) which brings together police, government, academia, media and other partners to address misconceptions about jihad," said DPM Teo.

Diplomat Ong Keng Yong, executive deputy chairman of RSIS, said: "We cannot always assume that what works in one location will suffice as a solution in a different place.

"But that is why networking, and sharing ideas and experiences, is so necessary."

One participant, Mr Simon Smalley, assistant secretary at the cyber policy and homeland security division of the Australian government, said: "It's very crucial for countries to be able to speak and share experiences. We certainly can learn from each other."


This article was first published on May 5, 2015.
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