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     FrontPage Edition: Mon 22 March 2004

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Better safe than sorry on our MRT trains

Hallo everyone

I went about doing my usual bout of magazine reading last weekend. The main stories in international current affairs centred on the recent Madrid bombings.

Hundreds of innocent commuters on a train were bombed out of existence by fanatics. The commuters were going about their usual routine, unaware that some 13 individuals among them were on board with a different purpose. These individuals left behind bags each containing about 10 kg of explosives. 

News reports also said that nails and screws were packed into these bags to allow maximum effect. The perpetrators, after leaving their bags in different cars on the train, left the place. They then detonated their load using mobile phones. Apparently, each bag also contained a mobile phone which acted as a detonator. Crime investigators in Spain found that out because one of the bags did not explode - its timer was out of synch. The retrieval of an intact SIM card led to the arrest of five suspects.

Now, there's a reason for me pouring out all these trivial data to you chaps. It is this - what happened in Madrid, Spain, could very well have happened here in Singapore. Which is why we should take a proactive role in alerting the local authorities should we find things amiss when we go about our routine - be it taking the MRT or browsing through the bookstore in a shopping centre.

Modern technology, which made it possible for the bombings to take place, has made it convenient for us to report such sightings. Almost everyone of us has a mobile phone. Use it! All of us use the MRT one time or another. Just make sure we keep our eyes open and be alert for bags left unattended. We are not being paranoid. Modern terrorists do not give a damn who they kill. Better safe than sorry.

I am glad to learn that the Government will soon be stationing armed plain-clothes marshals on our MRT trains. This prudent step makes sense. The sooner these marshals board our trains, the better for us all. But, let us not leave everything to the Government. Let us also do our part in making sure terrorists get zero chance to announce to the world that they have made mincemeat of us too. 

It is sad that we have to punctuate routine with caution in our everyday lives, but it would be worse if, through our nonchalance, terrorists attain their goal of reaching "paradise". 

Have a good week!

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