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Singapore wants communications blackouts at terror attack sites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2018, 8:52pm

Singapore on Tuesday proposed expanding police powers so they can block all communications from the scene of a terror attack to avoid jeopardising security operations, amid fears militants may target the city state.

The interior ministry, which supported a bill in parliament putting forward the measure, said live broadcasts of attacks in other parts of the world had unwittingly revealed police positions and other tactical details.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said an attack on the wealthy island, home to thousands of multinational corporations, is not a matter of if but when.

Fears have been heightened by support for Islamic State (IS) in the financial hub’s mainly Muslim neighbours. In 2016 police foiled a plot to fire a rocket at Singapore from an Indonesian island.

The bill authorises police to stop everyone in the vicinity of an incident from taking photos and video or sending them. It bans sending text or audio messages about security operations and authorises police to take down or disable drones in the area.

The ministry said the proposed new powers were necessary as the city state faces “a clear and present security threat” from self-radicalised citizens and “foreign terrorists who view Singapore as a prized target”.

Those who contravene a police order to stop communicating could face two years in jail or a fine of up to S$20,000 (US$15,000), The Straits Times newspaper reported.