Security stepped up in region
Malaysia and Indonesia join Singapore in increasing security personnel on the ground
Shoppers across the region found themselves rubbing shoulders with armed soldiers and policemen as security kicked into high gear in the wake of the Berlin lorry attack and the suicide bombing plot foiled by the Indonesian police.
With the threat of terror attacks hanging over the festive period, Malaysia and Indonesia have joined Singapore in putting their guard up and their security personnel on the ground.
A force of 150,000 soldiers and policemen have been deployed to secure Jakarta during the year-end holiday season.
In Malaysia, armed soldiers have started patrolling high-traffic areas.
The country's malls, clubs and hotels are also taking steps to improve security to complement efforts by the authorities, reported Malaysia's The Star newspaper yesterday.
Malaysia Shopping Malls Association adviser H.C. Chan said the larger malls have more than 100 security officers as well as the auxiliary police.
TENS OF THOUSANDS
He told The Star: "A mall can have tens of thousands of people at any one time during this period, so naturally security personnel are required."
Mr Chan said closed-circuit televisions had been used in the past to identify suspects for petty crimes committed in malls and could prove useful in more complex situations.
Our main task is to anticipate terror attacks and moves that could breach public order and spark conflicts andIndonesian Police Chief General Tito Karnavian
acts of crime.
Mr Roen Cian Nagapan, operating partner of The Group, which owns the Roof Club in Bandar Utama, said patrons are subjected to patdowns to detect illegal items such as weapons or drugs.
"Personnel are also trained on security matters, and we attend to any altercations that happen in our club," he said.
Malaysian Association of Hotels chairman Cheah Swee Hee said its members have drawn up standard operating procedures to deal with emergencies and crises.
"Terror situations and how to handle them have also become topics at conferences, and we are educating ourselves," he said.
Malaysia Airports Holdings said it had taken immediate steps to further strengthen the security measures at the airports under its management.
"Some general measures include tighter controls over the issuance of airport security passes, increase in patrol frequency by our aviation security personnel and increase inspection on all access doors.
"(There will also be) a heightening of the overall security checks at all security checkpoints involving passengers, goods, and airport personnel," a spokesman said.
In Indonesia, where three militants were killed following a plot to attack Jakarta, the security is even tighter.
"Our main task is to anticipate terror attacks and moves that could breach public order and spark conflicts and acts of crime," Indonesian Police Chief General Tito Karnavian said yesterday.
He was speaking at a ceremony to officiate Operation Candle to ensure security during this period, reported Xinhua news agency.
Gen Tito said the operation will run from today to Jan 1 next year, and it could be extended depending on the situation.
In Singapore, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam warned earlier this month of the threat of a terror attack in the region this festive season.
There will be greater police presence and increased checks on bags and personal belongings, especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Police officers, auxiliary police officers and security officers will be deployed for crowd control, alongside officers from the Protective Security Command and Emergency Response Teams.
Yesterday, the police also said they will be regulating the number of people in areas around Marina Bay to prevent overcrowding.
If there is overcrowding, MRT trains may bypass the affected stations to alleviate congestion.