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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Poll: 52% of youth fear terror attack

MORE than half of young people in Singapore fear being caught up in a terrorist attack here – yet few are likely to help prevent one, says a survey.

Among residents aged 16 to 35, 52% worry about personally encountering a terror attack, yet only one in five said they would investigate or report suspicious activity, a poll by the National Security Co­­ordination Secretariat (NSCS) found.

However, 68% trust the government to protect the country from such incidents.

The online survey, conducted last September and released on Wednesday, studied attitudes towards terrorism among 314 Singaporeans and permanent residents across different races and housing types.

More than seven in 10 respondents felt that terrorism is constantly changing its form.

Singapore has been the target of terrorist activities before.

In 2001 and 2002, the Internal Security Department picked up 36 men and uncovered plans to attack various targets.

In 2010, a map of the MRT network, with Orchard station circled, was found in the home of a terror suspect in Indonesia.

NSCS deputy director Loh Kean Wah said that while large terrorist organisations continue to pose threats, there is an increasing risk of “attacks perpetuated by self-radicalised individuals”.

He said: “The proliferation of radical online platforms means individuals have easier access to extreme rhetoric.”

To raise awareness about how to stay vigilant, the NSCS launched the “Let’s Stand Together” movement last year.

Last month, it launched a campaign focused on terrorism with a series of installations at Raffles Place Park and various MRT stations depicting suspicious objects that had been camouflaged.

It also launched an online game called “Terror Watch”, in which users race to foil a terrorist’s plans to cripple Singapore.

Players at the site – letsstandtogether.sg/terrorwatch – can win prizes every week until Feb 19.

Said Loh: “Protecting Singapore against this evolving self-radicalisation threat requires the concerted effort of both the government and the individual.”

However, the message does not seem to have raised the level of cautiousness among young people The Straits Times spoke to.

Civil servant Eugene Tan, 28, said: “There is the chance of a terrorist attack here but less than in other countries.”

Audrey Peng, 18, who is waiting for her A-level results, said that if she saw anything suspicious, she “would not know what to do so I wouldn’t report it”.

To provide information or seek advice on security awareness, people can call the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre 24-hour helpline on 1800-262-6473. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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