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Southeast Asia’s Reaction to Terrorist Plot in UK

Updated On: Aug 15, 2006

News of the terrorist plot discovered in London last Thursday and the subsequent tightening of security measures in the various British airports surprisingly received rather patchy coverage in the various Southeast Asian newspapers. The main focus has been on tightening of airport security and the impact on tourism.

In Indonesia, there were few reports on the issue of terrorism in the UK. Both the Republika and Media Indonesia carried brief news reports with the headlines “Terror threats paralize [sic] London airport” on Friday.

In Malaysia, the Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy said that full body checks would be necessary for passengers heading to the US and UK. Airport security in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) has been tightened. There have been few reports focusing specifically on the terror plot in UK

In Thailand, the Prime Minister Thaksin assured journalists that, “There is nothing to worry about, the terrorists will not come to Asia.” Nonetheless, extra security personnel were deployed in Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport. Passengers were also not allowed to carry electronic devices including ipods and laptop computers. An editorial in The Nation (Thailand) called for improved cooperation and coordination in intelligence-gathering on terrorists. 

In Singapore, the coverage was rather extensive with the Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean reminding Singaporeans to stay vigilant of the ongoing terrorist threat. 

In the Philippines, the terrorist plot in UK has received greater coverage. President Arroyo has used the terror plot as an opportunity to push for the Anti-Terrorism Act. The House of Representatives has already approved a version of the anti-terrorism bill but the Senate has not yet given its approval. President Arroyo has also suggested that the Philippines would push for a convention on counterterrorism at the ASEAN summit in December. She also reiterated her call made last year for ASEAN to link up with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to tackle the issue of terrorism.

Security checks were also strengthened in other public transportation system such as the Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit. Although there is no ban on liquid on the rail services, commuters might have to show receipts or doctors’ prescription to prove that the liquid is harmless.

The Manila International Airport Authority has also prohibited passengers from carrying “any bottle, canned liquid-based substances in any form such as beverages, lotion, shampoos, creams, toothpaste, gels, astringents and any other items of similar consistency.” However, airline crew, particularly flight attendants are exempted from the no-liquid, no gel ruling. Supt Rizalino Roxas (who is in charge of police and intelligence operations at Ninoy Aquino International Airport) explained, cabin attendants could not do away with their perfumes, hair gels, toothpastes, mouth wash and other grooming necessities because part of their job was to always look and smell good.

Sources:

Strengthen Airport Security (The Straits Times, 14 August 2006)

More Security Measures in Place Around Metro (Manila Standard, 14 August 2006)

Bad Grooming Bigger Threat to Airline Crews (Philippines Daily Inquirer, 14 August 2006)

UK-Triggered Alert Spreads to MRT, LRT (Philippines Daily Inquirer, 14 August 2006)

Ban on Fluids in All International Flights (Philippines Daily Inquirer, 13 August 2006)

Singapore Travel Agencies Inundated by Calls (The Business Times, 12 August 2006)

Singaporeans Must Always Stay Vigilant to Terror Threats: Defence Minister (Channelnewsasia, 12 August 2006)

Asian Airports on High Alert (The Straits Times, 12 August 2006) 

Many Trips to US, UK Cancelled (The Nation [Thailand], 12 August 2006)

Terrorist Mind-Set Alive and Well (The Nation [Thailand], 12 August 2006)

Headlines of Indonesian Major Newspapers on Friday (Antara, 11 August 2006) 

Business as Usual in London (Malay Mail, 11 August 2006)

KLIA Tightens Security (Malay Mail, 11 August 2006)