Launch of Crisis Preparedness for Religious Organisations Programme
Speech by Minister Grace Fu at the Counter-Terrorism Seminar for Religious Organisations, at Suntec City Convention Centre
14 January 2020
Ladies and Gentlemen
- It is my pleasure to join you today at the Counter-Terrorism Seminar for religious organisations. Your presence today affirms our commitment to work together to safeguard Singapore and our way of life against the threat of terrorism.
Crisis preparedness in Singapore
- Terrorism is a clear and present danger in the world today. Singapore has been a target on numerous occasions, including two ISIS-linked plots in 2016. We also face the risk of attacks by radicalised individuals who have been motivated to follow examples in other countries.
- We must therefore remain vigilant. We take the attitude of not ‘if’, but ‘when’, in preparation of a terrorist attack. And when an attack takes place, we must be ready to respond resolutely as one people and recover quickly. This is why we established SGSecure to help Singaporeans to stay alert, stay strong, and stay united in a crisis. SGSecure is an example of the broader SG Together movement where citizens and communities partner the Government on policies and programmes to build our future.
- Religious organisations (ROs) play a pivotal role in SGSecure. Around the world, we have seen terrorists and extremists targeting places of worship. These places are easy and soft targets, enabling the perpetrators to inflict pain and damage. Such attacks can easily incite hatred and conflict, and sow animosity between the different faiths and races. Therefore, ROs must stay vigilant against the threat of terrorism, be ready to respond to a crisis, and help the community stay resilient by providing the physical and spiritual support in a crisis.
Crisis Preparedness for Religious Organisations programme
- Today, I am pleased to launch the Crisis Preparedness for Religious Organisations programme. The CPRO programme aims to build capability and network in your organisation to better protect your premisesyou’re your followers, and assist the larger community, in the event of a crisis. Through CPRO, we seek to raise awareness of possible terror threats, inculcate a crisis-ready mindset, and encourage the implementation of crisis response plans in your organisation.
- In developing CPRO, we collaborated with experts and ROs to understand your needs. Representatives from over 30 ROs have helped in developing the programme through focus group discussions and co-creation workshops. I would also like to thank the participants and our partners - Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force, Temasek Foundation, and OnePeople.sg – for your support. Your participation emphasized our shared responsibility in crisis-preparedness between the government, communities and the individual leaders.
- The CPRO framework consists of three parts: self-assessment, capability building, and crisis-response exercises. ROs may first use the self-assessment checklist to gauge your crisis readiness and identify gaps in your contingency plans. Then, representatives of the RO can equip themselves in various skillsets by attending the training modules. We will provide training in emergency response, psychological resilience and crisis contingency planning. We will also invite ROs to take part in scenario-based crisis exercises. Using this platform, ROs can exercise their crisis response plans and share best practices with each other.
- Crisis preparedness of the ROs require not only the participation of the religious leaders but also their congregation. The CPRO will train the followers in emergency response skills in order to support the RO and the larger community. RO leaders should encourage your followers to attend basic training in administering CPR and AED. They can also sign up for programmes on psychological resilience and mental wellness, and mediation.
- I strongly encourage your RO to sign up for the CPRO programme. Through the CPRO, our communities will be well prepared to respond, and well connected to support one another to stay resilient in the event of a crisis. Only then can we stay united and not allow terrorism to tear apart our social fabric.
Updates to the Commitment to Safeguard Religious Harmony
- Beyond ensuring that our places of worship are crisis-ready, ROs also play an important role in building trust and respect with the other faith communities in our daily lives. In June 2019, our religious leaders came together to affirm the Commitment to Safeguard Religious Harmony in Singapore. This Commitment is a clear stand against extremist and exclusivist ideologies, which will diminish our common space and pull us apart. It is also a clear stand for multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore where we come together as one people to celebrate in each other’s festivities and participate in one another’s major life events.
- By affirming the Commitment, ROs pledged their support to a culture of mutual consideration and maintaining solidarity in times of crisis. Since the launch, a further 250 ROs and community organisations have affirmed the Commitment, doubling the number to over 500 today. This is an encouraging sign that we collectively recognise the importance of a cohesive society. I strongly urge ROs who have yet to affirm the Commitment to join us in making a firm stand, to protect, cherish and promote religious harmony in Singapore.
- I would like to conclude by emphasizing the importance of your role as religious leaders. You provide the moral compass to guide your followers as well as influence your followers through your everyday actions. With your support, I am confident that we will be able to stay strong in a crisis. I look forward to your active participation and leadership through CPRO and other initiatives, so that together we can continue to build a vibrant and united Singapore.
- Thank you and have a pleasant afternoon.
Last updated on 20 January 2020