CENS Activities 2010
Review of CENS Activities 2010
The Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) headed by Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna covers three areas of research: (i) Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning; (ii) Social Resilience; and (iii) Homeland Defence. Established in March 2006, the centre has a total of nine permanent researchers and professors today.
CENS hosted the “Political and Social Impact of Rumours” workshop on 22 February, which aimed to explore: i) the effect of rumours on the social and political fabric of communities; and ii) whether understandings of the subject of rumours may improve strategic communication efforts within the security and policy arenas. Following this, CENS organised the Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers (APPSNO) – the fourth in the annual series – which was held on 12-16 April. A signature event of the centre, this year’s APPSNO was held under the theme of “Mainstreaming Counter-terrorism”. National security officials and experts from 16 countries including 38 officials from various ministries in Singapore participated in the programme. Two other workshops – the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) Workshop and Council for Asian Trans-National Threats Research (CATR) Workshop – were held on 12-14 and 17-19 May respectively. DNDO was jointly organised by CENS and the US Institute for Defense Analyses to introduce the concept of “Global Nuclear Architecture” to the region as well as to learn about the current evolution of opinion regarding the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism. The CATR workshop focused primarily on the field of transnational security threats in Asia, and was held to discuss research papers submitted by various authors as well as to lay down future research directions for collaboration amongst CATR network member think tanks.
The Cyber Security Workshop, jointly organized by CENS and the Emerging and Disruptive Technologies Community of Interest of the Global Futures Forum (GFF), was held on 11-13 July where the participants discussed evolving cyber threats and the possible solutions. This conference was followed by a major GFF General Meeting co-organised by CENS and GFF on 12-15 September under the theme of “Building Resilience in the Face of Future Shocks”. This General Meeting – the first to be held in Asia – involved about 300 participants from 32 countries. It focused on improving our understanding of the concept of national and societal “resilience”, and especially on how intelligence analysis and strategic foresight can help to strengthen this capability.
This year, CENS staff also produced a number of publications which received positive reviews from readers. This included policy reports, working papers, book chapters and commentaries. Of significance was a policy report jointly written by Norman Vasu and Yolanda Chin under the title “Pledging Ourselves as One United People: A Study of Social Resilience”. Based on a comprehensive study of survey and statistics, the report aimed to analyse the current condition of social resilience in Singapore and its implications for government and policy makers. The report received positive reviews from the National Resilience Division of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts and the National Security Coordination Committee. Another significant publication from CENS was Kumar Ramakrishna’s working paper and book chapter on Singapore’s “Muscular Secularism” in which he sought to explain the state’s prevailing interventionist approach to managing inter-religious relations through the years.
CENS also sought to increase its profile through conference networking and by connecting with international counterparts. Staff of the centre attended meetings in London and Oxford in January to meet with a number of think tanks, private organisations, as well as representatives of the UK government to discuss the GFF General Meeting held in September. They also took part in the GFF Business Session meeting with government representatives from approximately 20 countries at the Trinidadian High Commission in London. On 20-22 June, in Copenhagen, CENS staff participated in a GFF workshop on Counter-Terrorism organized by the Community of Interest on Practice and Organization of Intelligence where they networked with a number of participants which subsequently led to their attendance in the GFF General Meeting in September.
CENS’ public profile was also enhanced through many media engagements including interviews and panel discussions. Kumar Ramakrishna also served as a consultant and key interviewee for the History Channel documentary on the Malayan Emergency, which was first aired in August. CENS’ research was enriched through eminent scholars from overseas, including Ilan Mizrahi, formerly head of the National Security Council of Israel, and Helene Lavoix, a prominent European foresight expert, who were Visiting Fellows at the centre from March to June. Both of them also taught a course each in RSIS’ masters’ programmes as well as addressed seminars for academics and policy audiences during their tenure. Another major highlight during the year was the series of four talks on best practices in strategic foresight and early warning given by Kenneth Knight, a recently retired leading member of the US intelligence community, who was CENS’ Distinguished Visitor in September.
Lastly, CENS’ staff shared their knowledge and ideas through many talks and seminars held locally and overseas. As part of its outreach activities, some of its talks were given at community forums.
3rd APPSNO 2nd Reunion Gathering cum Learning Journey
Date: 1 July 2010 (Thursday)
Place: HQ 2nd CD Division & Tampines Fire Station
Besides contributing to the development of network between international counterparts engaged in national security, the Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers (APPSNO) proved to be an especially fruitful event for our local participants as well. Jointly organised by the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) and the National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS), APPSNO aims to not only share insights and ideas between participants, but to also strengthen the relationship and network between participants, both internationally and locally. On 1 July 2010, the local participants of the APPSNO in 2009 had their second reunion gathering cum learning journey at Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) HQ 2nd CD Division and Tampines Fire Station. Out of all the local participants who were invited to the gathering, seventy percent gave a positive response to the invitation which was considered to be an encouraging result for future gathering sessions. Organised by Philip Moorthy, one of the participants of APPSNO 2009, the gathering comprised a good mixture of educational and recreational sessions. The participants took a tour around Tampines Fire Station and Public Education Centre which was hosted by LTC Kadir Maideen from SCDF, and the gathering was concluded with a luncheon session.
Participants who attended the gathering were highly impressed with its contents and programme. One participant noted that it was not only an excellent opportunity to catch up with other participants, but also an eye opening experience which enabled him to understand how other organisations operate. He said that it turned out to be a highly fruitful experience and strongly encouraged other participants who were absent to join the next gathering. As a whole, this session was considered as a positive direction towards fostering a Whole-of-Government Mindset and inter-agency coordination habits in Singapore.
Last updated on 10/06/2015