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Speech at The Hotel Security Conference and Security Awards Presentation 2018

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for Manpower, Furama Riverfront Hotel

Mr Albert Teo, President, Singapore Hotel Association
Mr Gerald Singham, Chairman, National Crime Prevention Council,
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Afternoon

  1. I am pleased to join you this afternoon. The Annual Hotel Security Conference and Security Awards Presentation is a key event for hoteliers to share their experiences and best practices to keep hotels safe and secure. 
  2. Singapore hosted the historic US–DPRK summit in June this year. Singapore was chosen not only because we are neutral and reliable, but also because of our security. Our ability to provide a safe environment has been a draw for tourists and businessmen from all over the world. Visitor arrivals till August this year has increased by 7.5%, compared to the same period in 20171
  3. It is thus timely and apt that the theme for this year’s conference is “Security Fortified – Enhance and Transform”. We must never take Singapore’s security for granted. We are fortunate that an attack has not yet occurred on our shores. But we cannot be lured into a sense of complacency. We need to continue with our efforts to protect the industry against the threat of terrorism.

    SGSecure@Workplaces Programme Achieves Good Progress 
  4. The SGSecure movement was launched two years ago to prepare the community to respond to the threat of terrorism. Efforts on workplaces were enhanced last year when the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) rolled out the SGSecure@Workplaces Programme. Under the initiative, we asked companies to appoint SGSecure representatives. We have also enhanced the bizSAFE programme – a structured programme to develop workplace risk management capabilities – to include SGSecure elements. Today, SGSecure representatives can help their companies to obtain resources to raise awareness and be better prepared against a terror attack. The enhanced bizSAFE programme helps companies to develop capabilities to identify workplace safety and security threats, and implement measures to mitigate the risks posed.
  5. It has been slightly more than a year since the launch of the SGSecure@Workplaces programme. We have set a three-year target of appointing 57,000 SGSecure representatives by 2020. Currently, over 27,000 SGSecure representatives have been appointed and registered with MOM. This is almost reaching the halfway mark of the target. In the past year, over 8,000 companies, or a third of our three-year target, have attained bizSAFE level three certification. This means they have developed risk management capability to manage workplace safety and security.
  6. These represent good progress and demonstrate the seriousness of our companies in protecting the safety and security of their employees and visitors.
  7. Nevertheless, we would need to sustain the momentum. One of the challenges MOM faces is reaching out to smaller businesses, particularly tenants in commercial buildings. The need to prepare against the terror threat may not be apparent to them. Commercial landlords are an important group that can help us reach out to such workplaces. Within the hotel sector, these would be the larger hotels who lease out shop spaces. They have a strong influence on the preparedness of their tenants. We want to better involve them in helping their tenants build risk management capabilities.
  8. We are working on a new scheme to make the enhanced bizSAFE more relevant for them. Under bizSAFE, tenants typically have to go through courses to build risk management awareness and capabilities. For the new scheme, we intend to partner the commercial landlords to reach out to the tenants to do so. To facilitate this approach, we will re-organise the concepts into simpler bite-size modules and gradually build the tenants’ risk management capability. This will enable tenants to learn more easily and experience minimal disruption to their business. We will work with landlords to support the tenants in developing their risk assessment capability, thus helping them to achieve bizSAFE level 3 status. This way, we can alleviate the time and manpower pressures tenants typically face. We can also help landlords improve their value to their tenants. More details will be announced when ready. 

    Hotel Sector Taking Initiative
  9. As you are aware, the hotel sector is one of five priority sectors in SGSecure efforts. We have seen hotels step up and respond to our calls to prepare the workforce, protect the workplace and partner the community. For example, last month, Crowne Plaza Hotel’s SGSecure representative Mr Charlie Wong helped the hotel coordinate SGSecure briefings to its employees and also organised a table-top exercise involving its senior management. I was told participants shared that these briefings and exercises enhanced their overall appreciation of the terror threat and helped them to prepare for an emergency situation. Crowne Plaza Hotel and Mr Wong are part of the SGSecure@Workplaces network.  They work closely with the Police too. I encourage hoteliers who have not done so to register your SGSecure representative and be part of the Safety and Security Watch Group (SSWG) scheme.
  10. Our efforts will only be successful if every last person on the ground is vigilant and able to react swiftly in an actual situation. I want to share the story of Ms Charmaine Bird, Director of Housekeeping, and Ms Laura Arkusauskaite, Service Apartment Operation Manager, from the Shangri-La Hotel. Both of them spotted a man placing an object inside the decorative pillar of a ballroom and leaving the hotel thereafter. They sought assistance from the security personnel who cordoned off the area immediately. Fortunately, the object turned out to be a GPS-enabled device used for an outdoor treasure hunting game called Geocaching instead of something more sinister. But it is reassuring to know that our people on the ground were alert and knew to do the right things in such a situation.
  11. Besides knowing how to respond, our efforts can be boosted if we leverage the use of technologies to enhance the safety and security of hotel premises. This is an area where the hotel industry has continued to place focus on. For example, JW Marriott Singapore South Beach installed an Electronic Key Management System to prevent unauthorised access to their key facilities.

    23rd Annual Hotel Security Awards
  12. Today, we will present 96 hotels with the Hotel Security Excellence Awards and Hotel Security Awards. These hotels have consistently made efforts to enhance their safety and security capabilities. I congratulate all the winners today.
  13. I also congratulate the winners of the Individual Awards for Vigilance, Bravery and Honesty. I was inspired by Guest Services Executive, Ms Nurhuda Bte Hidayatullah, one of the winners for this year’s Bravery award. Ms Nurhuda encountered a heated argument between a female cleaner on duty and a man at the lobby during an overnight shift. The man started pushing the cleaner and Ms Nurhuda promptly intervened. Eventually the man apologised and left the premises. Well done, Ms Nurhuda!

    Conclusion
  14. In closing, I thank the Singapore Hotel Association, the National Crime Prevention Council and the Singapore Police Force for organising this conference and the speakers for your sharing of insights. I am heartened to see the strong commitment from all of you present to learn more about enhancing your hotel’s safety and security. Let us work together to build a safer and more secure working environment. Thank you.

FOOTNOTE

  1. The total number of International visitor arrivals is 11,735,316 from January to August 2017 and 12,611,178 from January to August 2018. https://www.stb.gov.sg/statistics-and-market-insights/Pages/statistics-Visitor-Arrivals.aspx
Last Updated: 31 October 2018