The first thing that strikes you when you meet Mr Ho Nai Chuen, Managing Director of On Cheong Jewellery, is his calm demeanour. He speaks in an assured manner, yet comes across as being warm and approachable.
As the President of the Singapore Jewellers Association, Vice President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the CCC Chairman of Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru Constituency, Mr Ho is a respected voice in his industry and community. Having served as a civil defence officer during his National Service days, he is trained to handle emergency situations and is deeply aware of the need to always be prepared.
These qualities have made Mr Ho an ideal candidate to be nominated as one of SGSecure’s Workplace Community Leaders (WCL). WCLs need to be prepared to deal with the potential impact of terror threats on their employees and the wider business community.
“I am calm because I was trained, hence I know how to handle situations. However a lot of business leaders only think of doing better business when times are good. What happens when something disrupts your business? You cannot think of a solution or engage another person to help only after things have happened.”
– Mr Ho Nai Chuen, Managing Director of On Cheong Jewellery
Without peace, there is no prosperity
On Cheong Jewellery, a Singapore Quality Class (People and Service) certified jeweller was established in 1936. A home-grown heritage brand that has won many awards for excellence, On Cheong was the first jeweller to receive an award in the Quality Jewellers of Singapore Scheme (QJS) in 2004. It was also honoured with the Singapore Prestige Brand Award in 2006 and 2008. The On Cheong name stands for peace and prosperity in Chinese. It is an apt reminder that peace is essential for businesses to thrive.
But peace can be disrupted if taken for granted. Under the SGSecure@Workplaces programme, regular events and counter-terrorism seminars were conducted and it was one of these talks that struck a chord with Mr Ho. Being reminded of the terror plots targeting Singapore made him realise that terror attacks can hit close to home.
Every business needs a plan B
On Cheong has been certified BizSafe level 3 since 2010. The audited risk management implementation plan now includes SGSecure to address terror threats. Some companies have been resistant to the idea of including security but Mr Ho believes this mindset needs to change.
“I think the most important message is that when anything happens, your business may be completely disrupted or wiped off. If you cannot operate your retail business for the next six months or so, how are you going to survive? Nobody will help you because everybody also needs help. So that is the serious message I think we have to send,” he says.
As a WCL, Mr Ho is prepared to share the learning points he took away from various SGSecure@Workplaces engagements with fellow industry players. He adds that bosses of SMEs like himself may find it challenging to make time for attending seminars so he recommends that they take the first step by downloading the SGSecure app and signing up an SGSecure Rep with the Ministry of Manpower. With information distilled down to simple steps, it is easier to remember what to do in the event of an attack or how to deal with casualties.
Staff can learn how to react to a terrorist attack in three steps:
- Run – run away from danger.
- Hide – if escape is not possible.
- Tell – connect to the right authority or agencies to speed up rescue efforts.
When there are injuries, by applying the “Press, Tie, Tell”, they will know how to stop the bleeding and call for an ambulance.
Empower your workforce
At On Cheong, there is a chart that defines everyone’s role in the event of a crisis. HR and Admin manager Ms Lee Meng Ling is the team leader who is also an appointed SGSecure representative. She is responsible for putting together the core team and liaising with the authorities and relevant parties.
“As an SGSecure rep, we play a crucial role to prepare all colleagues to respond during security threats and protect the workplace. More lives can be saved if we know how to respond during security threats.”
– Ms Lee Meng Ling, HR / Admin Manager of On Cheong Jewellery
Selected employees are sent for training in basic life-saving skills such as Occupational First Aid, Psychological First Aid and how to perform CPR-AED, among others. All employees are also guided to download the SGSecure app.
Some of the briefing sessions conducted to deal with terror threats include "what to do when there is suspected chemical agent release" and "what to do when a vehicle is used as a weapon". The company also engages a third-party service to strengthen cybersecurity and brief employees on how to prevent a cyber-attack.
Within the company building, level ICs (in-charge) are appointed to respond to emergencies on their respective levels. For instance, if there is a fire on the third floor, the level floor IC will know how to respond. The company also prepares staff on emergency evacuation route during their fire drill.
On Cheong has a workplace safety and health committee, a risk management team and a workplace health promotion team. The organisation has a learning day to go through all the processes to ensure all staff are knowledgeable on the safety protocols and crisis response plans.
On Cheong also designates a teambuilding day focusing on service excellence and brainstorming of new ideas on how to carry out activities in a more efficient manner. They also have refresher briefings to share issues faced by staff, including health and safety issues.
Continue to be engaged on SGSecure
“If everyone is prepared, they will know what to do when emergencies happen - who are the key contact persons, agencies to approach and the business partners to seek help from. I am sure there are business partners who will step forward during an emergency or disruption in the business. That is why strengthening community networks is important.” says Mr Ho.
Mr Ho believes that staying engaged on the SGSecure movement is useful for business leaders. In the event of a terror attack, businesses should already have put in place a network of people who can render help as well as a safe place that they can evacuate to.
“It can be a very simple chart that indicates the location of the nearest clinic or hospital, police post, community centres, and even who is the MP in charge of the constituency. It helps you identify the different agencies and location of nearby safe places so that you can get help in the quickest time possible. Store important emergency numbers on your mobile phone and also learn them by heart,” he advises.
Taking steps to be prepared
These are measures that every company can put in place:
- Download the SGSecure app.
- Learn basic life-saving skills:
- Occupational First Aid Course
- Psychological First Aid Course
- How to perform AED
- Conduct briefing sessions to deal with terror threats. Sample topics can include:
- What to do when there is a suspected chemical agent release
- What to do when a vehicle is used as a weapon
- Engage a third party service to strengthen cybersecurity and brief employees on how to prevent a cyber-attack.
- Appoint level ICs (in charge) to respond to emergencies on their respective levels.
- Conduct fire drills twice a year. Identify an open space to which staff can safely evacuate.
- Appoint workplace safety health committee, risk management team and workplace health promotion team.
- Set aside learning days as a time for the company to go through all the processes and ensure all staff know the importance and processes.
- Plan a teambuilding day to strengthen cohesiveness among employees.
- Set up refresher briefings for staff to inculcate the importance on safety and health at work.
Did you know
Did you know that the jewellery trade can be used by terrorists? This is because precious stones are easier to bring across the borders than large sums of cash.
Companies in the retail trade have the responsibility to stay vigilant so that they do not unwittingly help to further the interests of terror groups.