Wednesday, 9 June 2010

SECURITY of key installations - WHOSE job is it?

The case of the MRT Graffiti incident raised a serious issue on the lack of security on key installations in Singapore. I recall that I belonged to one such reservist military unit tasked to protect one sensitive "civilian" installation, often with make-believe training at one of the Marsiling hills (which is now flattened) as simulation of the installation.

Despite attention raised about MRT stations being possible targets for terrorists, the daily announcements on the crowded trains is just "lip-service".

The reply from the CEO of the SMRT, short of an apology from SMRT, paints a bad picture of "Board and committee culture" towards the task of ensuring "security" here for such installations in Singapore,  a picture worse than that signified by the graffiti itself. It pushed the responsibility for feedback on "security" back to the general public, when the incident took place at a highly "rectricted and protected" depot, fully under the control of the SMRT. 

She said "This incident also reaffirms the importance of the public's participation and support in reporting any suspicious sightings in our system, to assist us to handle them expeditiously.”It is indeed ironical that the incident had happened in a "restricted and protected" area but was discovered by a member of the public who is a student and much later. [Note "We have 82 MRT and LRT stations across Singapore, serving 1.5 million passengers daily and five train depots covering more than 82 hectares (equivalent of 106 football fields). With such an expansive system, it is necessary to involve the public through our engagement programmes to assist us in boosting vigilance by reporting suspicious persons or articles."]

The message added "Furthermore, any intruders who attempt to sabotage the trains run the risk of being electrocuted, as the power rails that run along the tracks in our depots are 'live' throughout the day...what about the night when all the trains and rails are totally off service?

Perhaps, a new head with relevant military training should be talent-hunted for the SMRT. As the incident illustrates, it is not enough to manage the SMRT as a commercial entity just by improving the shopping experience at its various existing stations. In particular, the depots were left vulnerable and "unprotected" whether by cameras or guards.

And what about the armed security patrols in grey berets which seemed to take place just to reassure public presence? In fact, I do not seem to notice them patroling that often on the trains these days. 

What if a bomb was planted during that night for the morning crowd the next morning? This scary question was raised by many commuters in their hearts that day. While the public maybe expected to feedback on suspicious looking items left here and there on the trains or stations, the depots are certainly out of reach to the ordinary commuters.

Whose job is it to protect the depots? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that the depots are protected as a "restricted and protected" installation in normal days? Look for the number of surveillance cameras installed and/or added at the exits to the MRT stations, you would be shocked to see so many of them. But then, why not at the depots?

Is it a job for the super-salaried Senior Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security appointed just to care about security coordination or the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs taking care of the HOMETEAM or is it the direct responsibility of the SMRT CEO who is equally well-spurred in terms of salary motivation ?

No budget for SMRT? - look at the profits declared, not forgetting the numbers of surveillance cameras installed at upgraded stations like Boon MRT, and others.
Or is it an issue with "whom to spend the money and how to recover costs" ... and if more security monitoring devices are required to be installed ... SMRT must recovered their costs from the commuters ?

Just like Mas Selamat's "Great Escape", this great "security" intrusion with "graffiti art" is not just another case of "complacency" anymore !  If the public had been complacent, the graffiti and the security breach would not have been discovred. Whom and how to fix the "spurs"?

Stop wrestling with the "Leviathan" mindset,  just do the basics which is practical !
TODAY 7 June, 2010
FIDS beats a hundred pairs of eyes
Letter from Paul Antony Fernandez 05:55 AM Jun 07, 2010
 SECURITY of key installations is vital and MRT depots are perfect targets for terrorists.

In the wake of the recent intrusion in which graffiti was sprayed on a train, I wonder - as a security professional - why a Fence Intrusion Detection System (FIDS) was not installed, especially when the depot covers a very large area.

SMRT said more security personnel will be deployed.

I am of the humble opinion that a hundred pairs of eyes may not detect an intrusion but a FIDS will be able to, as it activates upon detection of any kind of motion, day or night.

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