Imagine working and suddenly being told that the building you’re in is being placed under lockdown.
This was the reality for employees in the Environment Building at 40 Scotts Road.
On 23 August, the Environment Building at 40 Scotts Road was placed under lockdown due to a “security situation”.
Environment Building Placed Under Lockdown
The Environment Building houses the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) and its statutory boards, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and water agency PUB.
On the afternoon of 23 August, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu posted the news on her Facebook page.
She wrote, “While attending ASEAN meetings in Vientiane, Laos, I received news from back home that a security situation is ongoing at the Environment Building.
“Police had worked with security officers on premises for preliminary checks, and no threat items were found.”
She also mentioned that she was monitoring the situation closely and was in contact with her colleagues.
She added, “I would like to assure all staff and stakeholders at the Environment Building that their safety is our priority.”
Chinese news daily Lianhe Zaobao reported that Ms Fu’s Facebook came four hours after the incident began.
According to multiple sources that spoke to Channel News Asia (CNA), there was a situation at the Environment Building at about 9 am.
People were allowed to leave the building but weren’t allowed to enter.
An email sent to employees at around 10 am revealed that the building was facing an “emergency situation” and was “under lockdown”.
The email mentioned that people could leave the building.
CNA reported that similar information was seen on a sign next to the turnstiles located on the ground floor of the building.
The sign read, “We have an emergency situation. The building is under lockdown.”
According to CNA, police officers and five police cars were at the scene.
A now-deleted video was posted on the Hardwarezone forum showing groups of people leaving the building.
However, people leaving the building were observed to be calm.
Reporters from The Straits Times observed that the ground floor of the building was mostly empty by 1 pm, though some people were loitering around the information counter.
CNA reporters said they heard a security guard informing people that they were allowed to leave the building but not enter.
Speaking to TODAY, some staff said they were unsure of why there was a mass evacuation.
Some workers were unaware that the email existed and simply followed their colleagues in leaving the building.
People in Cafeteria Not Allowed to Dine in
People in the building’s cafeteria were not allowed to dine in.
They were only allowed to dabao their food.
Some stall owners at the cafeteria on the second floor of the building told TODAY that the building’s management instructed them to stop all dining-in services.
Building Closed for the Rest of the Week
According to news media, another email was sent to employees around 12.20 pm.
The email informed them that the building would be closed for the remainder of the week.
CNA reported that the email read, “The police have left the building. For today, you may dine at the cafeteria, but re-entry into the office building will not be allowed.”
The police, Singapore Civil Defence Force and MSE have been contacted for more information on the ongoing situation.
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