Singapore – The July 7 railway bombings in London have once again demonstrated how vulnerable a country's transportation network is to terrorist attacks. And while they may be thousands of miles away from the United Kingdom, Southeast Asian countries are not taking any chances following the bombings, with security measures being stepped up immediately in many places.
In the Thai capital, security was beefed up not only for the public transport but also popular public places such as shopping malls. Other measures introduced include stricter examination of garbage bins, public toilets and suspicious vehicles.
In the Philippines, the police raised the highest alert level in Manila as a precautionary measure. The authorities had even greater cause for worry: The commuter train network in Metro Manila was twice targeted by terror attacks – in December 2000 and on Feb 14 this year.
In Singapore, a more visible police presence could be detected in the wake of the attacks. Undercover policemen are now riding the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains while elite Special Operations Command officers armed with submarine guns have become a more familiar sight at MRT stations, the Shenton Way business district and the Orchard Road shopping belt.
Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan warned that Singapore remains an "iconic target" for terrorists. "One of these days, despite all the measures we have taken, they may succeed and we must be ready to deal with the consequences," Dr Tan said on July 8.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the attacks served as a reminder on the need for the international community to unite to combat terrorism. "We must work together with greater resolve and determination to deal with this problem and to win the fight against terrorism so that our people could live in a safe and peaceful world," he said.
* Extra security deployed in Singapore (The Straits Times, July 9)
* Bangkok and Manila step up security (The Straits Times, July 9)
* Bangkok security to be beefed up (The Nation, July 9)
* Malaysia condemns bombings in London, says Abdullah (Bernama, July 8)