JAYA PRAKASH's picture
Singapore passes law to secure buildings
Posted on Oct 14, 2017

In view of the worsening security situation in the world, Singapore has passed new laws to protect its infrastructure.

The new laws are designed especially to protect historic buildings, others with aesthetic appeal, and those where human footfall is the greatest.

"All buildings have to be fitted with some security measures", were the cautionary words of the nation’s Second Home Affairs Minister, Josephine Teo.

She warns that building owners must now ensure that security is considered part of the design matrix and not to be penny wise and pound foolish – as the cost of a terror attack could be hugely costly.

The last time a building was blown up in Singapore was in 1966 when the tiny city-state was embroiled in an undeclared war with Indonesia; dubbed konfrontasi or Confrontation. Then there was no closed circuit television (CCTV) and access-control systems that are now a common feature in all businesses across the nation, principally of U.S. corporations.

The new law now requires all new buildings to be fitted with security measures such as video surveillance, vehicle barriers and protection against blasts in their design before they are built. Some existing buildings are also required to comply.

Singapore has identified Changi Airport as a key example of an infrastructure that may become a prized target. Some buildings will be targeted annually, added Teo.

Additionally, it now becomes mandatory for owners to submit a security plan for approval before carrying out major construction work – failing to do so would incur a hefty fine of CAD 195,000, or even jail time.

All new works now fall under the remit of a Commissioner of Infrastructure Protection whose writ would be to watch sentinel-like over the administration of the new laws.

To back up its enforcement, Singapore will direct existing building owners, who are excluded from the “security-by-design” requirements, to roll out appropriate security measures to guard against a terror attack. All owners will be given a timeframe for compliance, but that could quickly change once it becomes known that an attack is imminent.

Observers have noted the considerable requirement for more training for security and auxiliary police officers. Unauthorized photography of protected places or areas listed under the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act (PAPPA) is now an offence.

The new measures and hardening of attitudes towards terror-related incidents comes on the back of a continued run of such incidents in Malaysia, Indonesia and the relentless fighting in the Philippines where Australia has recently promised Manila some help.

Earlier this year, the Public Order Act was also amended to require organizers of large-crowd events and higher risk events to ensure that effective security measures are in place.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Singapore adopted the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373/2001 calling for member states of the United Nations to implement a series of measures against terrorism and the financing of terrorism. To implement such requirements, the United Nations Act (A44/2001) was passed, enabling the Singapore government to pass anti-terrorism regulations which apply to any person in Singapore and any Singapore citizen outside Singapore who facilitates terrorist acts committed inside or outside Singapore.