Responding to terror

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01 Jan 2018 | COMMUNITY
Melayu 华文

Responding to terror

// STORY Ong Hong Tat

// PHOTOS Chai Sian Liang & Courtesy of Monochromatic Pictures

English Melayu

Gunmen fire indiscriminately at travellers in a crowded airport; someone deliberately drives a truck into a crowd; terrorists release toxic nerve agents in the subway system.

These may sound like scenes from a movie, but they have all taken place somewhere in the world, resulting in the loss of innocent lives. Now, imagine if these attacks took place in tiny Singapore.

That is what new TV series It Will Never Happen Here aims to do: to give Singaporeans an idea how terrorist-related attacks would impact the island state if the unimaginable happens.

Local production house Monochromatic Pictures filmed the series in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Relatable stories

While the stories within the series are told dramatically, the message is decidedly serious.

"The current global climate is dominated by security issues and (how to deal with) the terrorist threat," said Mr Jeevan Nathan, founder of Monochromatic Pictures.

"One of the things we wanted to do was to tell relatable stories, so you'll see characters in each of the episodes that, hopefully, people can identify with," added the 38-year-old.

This is a narrative that has played out all over the world: A group of extremists plot and carry out attacks in high-profile cities, causing panic and fear.

"It's not hypothetical anymore. I think the mindset that 'it will never happen here' cannot be the one that Singaporeans adopt," said Mr Nathan.

Shared responsibility

The series also deals with more insidious attacks, such as the use of fake news to spread falsehoods and stir up tensions in the community. This is covered in the fourth episode that focuses on social media and misinformation.

The message here is clear as threats evolve, people's response and attitudes must also change. Security forces alone cannot keep the country safe, no matter how well trained and equipped they are.

A scene from the series - the SAF's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group troops decontaminating a lab used by terrorists to make explosives and toxins.

Expert opinions 

Each of the episodes begins with a dramatised attack (see box story below), followed by expert analyses of the attack. These experts are drawn from the academia, senior MINDEF and MHA leadership, and business leaders. 

For example, Rear-Admiral Frederick Chew speaks on hybrid threats (which undermine a nation's defence on many fronts, including military and cyberspace), inter-agency operations and how the public can play a part in the last episode. He is Deputy Secretary (Technology) at MINDEF, and former Director of Joint Operations in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). 

The head of Singapore's recently set-up Cyber Security Agency and MINDEF's Defence Cyber Organisation, Mr David Koh, appears in episode three to talk about how virtual-world attacks can cause real-world impacts, and the preventative measures that the community can take. 

The series will debut on local television from 2 Jan on Tuesdays. Remember to catch it!

It will never happen here 
Channel 5, Tues, 9.30pm 

Watch this docu-drama for gripping scenes that depict incidents across the island, and hear from security experts as they give insights and analyses into these threats. The series will also be available online through Mediacorp's Toggle portal.

Episode 1 

A marathon is taking place; there are thousands of runners. A car causes mass panic as it careens through the runners. The driver gets out and attacks those nearby with a knife.

Episode 2 

A deadly gas is released in the MRT, and a school library comes under cyanide attack. Singapore's healthcare system soon becomes strained as Singaporeans panic and flock to the hospitals.

Episode 3 

When hackers target Singapore's cyber systems, banks are crippled and traffic signals are hijacked. The ensuing chaos causes massive jams and traffic accidents all over Singapore — bringing the country to a literal standstill.

Episode 4 

Tensions rise when a hostile foreign organisation uses a local alternate news site to spread falsehoods and stir up hatred along racial lines. Conflict erupts, and a cloud of mistrust engulfs Singapore.

Episode 5 

Suicide bombers from a terrorist cell take hostages at a cafe, while their brothers-in-arms coordinate attacks and plant explosives around the country. The nation is tested as Singaporeans are seized by fear and paranoia.

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