MANAGING CRISES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: ARE YOU PREPARED? An earthquake and resultant tsunami have devastated coastal sections of Indonesia and Thailand; an influenza virus-like outbreak has spread across Asia, causing a near pandemic; terrorists detonate explosives in hotels within Jakarta's business district; demonstrations have turned to riots in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, while an armed disgruntled former police officer takes hostages in Manila. Events such as these are all too common place, not only in Southeast Asia but throughout the world. Security professionals must remain diligent and be prepared to respond appropriately, ensuring the preservation of life, continuity of operations and reputation of the organizations. The importance in establishing and routinely exercising a crisis management plan cannot be underestimated and needs to be an integral part of every organization’s business continuity plan.Image: AP Photo/Jakarta - Protesters throw rocks at riot police during a clash in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 14, 2010.
Southeast Asia is a sub-region of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic and volcanic activity.Southeast Asia is geographically divided into two sub-regions, namely Mainland Southeast Asia (or Indochina) and Maritime Southeast Asia (or the similarly defined Malay Archipelago).Mainland Southeast Asia includes:Cambodia; Laos; Burma (Myanmar); Thailand; Vietnam; Peninsular MalaysiaMaritime Southeast Asia includes: East Malaysia; Brunei; Indonesia; Philippines; Singapore; East TimorInfo Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Asia
The word “crisis” initially brings negative thoughts to mind, but to a seasoned security professional a crisis stirs a call to action that has been well thought out, planned for and rehearsed. BusinessDictionary.com defines a crisis as a “critical event or point of decision which, if not handled in an appropriate and timely manner (or if not handled at all), may turn into a disaster or catastrophe.” The whole of business approach, wherein each and every facet of the business is co-dependent to achieve success, requires the integration of an effective crisis management plan to heighten the organization’s ability to protect its personnel and weather the storm. Crisis management is the process by which one can identify, plan for, control and mitigate actions and events that are detrimental to the successful operation of any organization. Planning for all possibilities might seem an impossible task but this can be achieved through the development of a comprehensive understanding of the local environment, the establishment of a proper network of local, national and international contacts and a keen knowledge of your business/organization’s operating requirements. Icon source - Fire Drill: Preparing for Crisis; David Liss, 2002; http://www.brandchannel.com/images/Home/home2_img_crisis_part1.jpg.
The politically-fueled protests and riots that occurred in Bangkok, Thailand during the months of March thru May 2010 significantly impacted many businesses and governmental organizations operating from in and around the city. Political instability had been a constant concern to the Royal Thai government since the 2006 military coup and overthrow of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government. Leading up to the 2010 riots, sporadic protests and occasional violent acts had been affecting the capital city’s economic, tourist and transportation hubs, to include Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi primary international airport. Many small and large businesses/organizations were not fully prepared for an extended period of disruption, to include the possibility of staff and family evacuations, although the ongoing problems should have been enough to trigger the crisis management process long before the actual riots. Wikipedia, “2006 Bangkok Bombings,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Bangkok_bombings Thomas Fuller, “Protesters Shut Down Bangkok Airport,” The New York Times, November 25, 2008; http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/world/asia/25iht-thai.3.18136118.htmlHannah Beech, “Scores Injured as Bangkok Protests Erupt into Chaos,” Time Magazine, April 13, 2009; http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1890947,00.html
- Many small and large businesses/organizations had little to no comprehensive and/or routinely exercised crisis management plan. - Lack of a fully developed and maintained network of logistics, medical and security contacts and services, both within and outside the country. - Business continuity plans reflected foreign home office thought processes without fully taking into account the local environment. In some cases, the corporate executive office did not seem to understand or consider the customs and culture of the country, nor did they understand the nuances of actually getting things done in country, especially during chaotic times. As a result, some businesses were not able to adjust and continue full operations while others were more fortunate.
- Some business/organizational leaders did not fully understand the security environment, relying solely on their perception of events, routinely challenging and, at times, overriding the recommendations of the security manager despite obvious safety and security concerns. - Lack of information sharing, open and continuous dialogue with both local and foreign government security officials, making it difficult to identify the “tripwires” necessary to begin appropriate and timely courses of action (e.g. relocation of staff and business operations, evacuations). Based on the information available to each business/organization, some evacuated staff and/or family members, some relocated operations, while others did not. - Lack of a developed and routinely tested communications plan, taking into account the failure of local technology. Many businesses depended on the internet and simple mobile telephones to communicate with staff and the outside world, with no back-up communications plan in place.
The Port of Tanjung Priok handles much of Indonesia's trade in imports and is a busy center for West Java exports and transshipments with other islands in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. http://www.worldportsource.com/ports/IDN_Port_of_Tanjung_Priok_2094.php HistoryTanjung Priok was the site of a widely-publicized incident on September 12, 1984, when army forces fired on a group of Muslim protesters. The protesters were demonstrating against proposed government regulations that would require all formal organizations in the country to adopt “Pancasila” as their ideology (state philosophy). There were conflicting reports about the total death toll, but most sources indicate that several hundred protesters were killed. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanjung_PriokJAKARTA (Reuters) - Three public order officers were killed and 128 people injured in the violent clashes on Wednesday at Tanjung Priok port, marking the worst civil disturbance since 1998 when the financial crisis sparked deadly riots and the eventual resignation of then-president Suharto. Protesters thought the city government was trying to remove the tomb of HabibHasan (aka MbahPriok – 18th century Muslim Cleric), an Islamic scholar who died in the mid-1700s, from land owned by state port company Pelindo II. Riots were in the immediate vicinity of the PT Terminal PetikemasKoja (TPK Koja), an international container terminal (Hutchison Port Holdings).
Developing the Crisis Management PlanThe Bangkok and Jakarta riots are but two examples of critical events that could affect your business/organization. Events such as these highlight and remind us of the need to develop and maintain a comprehensive crisis management plan, which is routinely exercised, and takes into account a wide range of crisis event possibilities and relevant responses.
Identify and establish a crisis or emergency action/management team incorporating key personnel from each business/organizational department (e.g. management, operations, human resources, safety and security, facilities, public affairs, legal, etc.). This supports a “whole of business” approach to crisis management.
A thorough knowledge of your business/organization’s operating environment, taking into account the local history, incident trends, culture, customs and government legal/regulatory issues. Connect with and monitor risk and threat information sources and reputable services if available and budget-supported. Failure to understand your environment will likely cause or lead to problems, especially during crisis situations.
- Assess your business/organization’s strengths and vulnerabilities and include vulnerability mitigation factors. Plan for all crisis possibilities (e.g. natural disasters; man-made disasters to include civil unrest, terrorism and war; medical pandemics; internal as well external negligence and criminal activity). - Select and plan for primary and secondary crisis/emergency operations centers.
- Ensure human resource details are current and complete, to include points of contact, next of kin, insurance information, etc. Consider budget and payroll issues. - Establish procedures to respond to medical/health issues, emergencies and pandemics. Select primary and secondary evacuation sites/rally points which are easily identifiable during a crisis. Incorporate an evacuation plan that equally includes both the local and foreign staff.
Establish and maintain a sustainable communications network. Multiple means and methods are preferable (e.g. landline, mobile and satellite telephones; hand-held radios, internet; personal messenger).
Establish and maintain an extensive network of reliable contacts in both the public and private sectors, to include local and foreign governments, security and law enforcement, military, logistics, medical, legal and regulatory entities.
Identify and plan for alternate business operations sites, to include the administrative and technical information and materials necessary to ensure business continuity. This also includes the identification of alternate manufacturing, warehousing, shipping and other transportation sites. Consider the loss of key personnel and associated alternative staffing.
Establish a media response plan and identify the business/organization’s spokesperson(s).
Ensure all personnel are familiar with the base plan and understand its importance to their safety and security. Consider developing home disaster kits with emergency supplies. Conduct routine drills and exercises incorporating varied crisis scenarios. When appropriate, consider integrating local and foreign government responders into exercise scenarios. Establish enough depth in the plan to ensure continuity should key and responsible personnel become unavailable.
Crisis management planning, to be truly effective, must be accepted and promulgated by the organization’s executives. A clear and concise presentation, based on the organization’s vulnerabilities in relation to the operating environment, is critical to success. The presentation should highlight past incidents and outcomes that have affected similar organizations, both in human and material loss. For statistically-oriented executives, a cost-benefit analysis will also serve to paint a clear fiscal picture, especially when showing the negative impact to organizations that did not have a proper plan in place. An organization that is fully prepared to deal with and mitigate a crisis shows resiliency, ultimately boosting the confidence of its clients and investors.
The necessity for crisis management planning is clearly evident. The plan should be written and incorporated into the culture of the organization, ensuring preservation of life and business continuity. Southeast Asia, with its challenging and dynamic operating environment, requires security professionals to be fully knowledgeable of the operating environment and equally engaged across all sectors of an organization’s business profile. Failure to properly plan for all possible events not only puts the organization’s continuity in jeopardy but more importantly endangers the lives of its employees. Truly effective organizations plan for and meet the challenge head on. Are you prepared to meet the challenge?
Managing Crises in Southeast Asia - Are You Prepared?
MANAGING CRISES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA ARE YOU PREPARED? AP PHOTO / JAKARTA
WHAT IS CRISIS MANAGEMENT ?• Identify, plan for, control and mitigate actions and events detrimental to the successful operation of any organization.• Develop a comprehensive understanding of the local environment, the establishment of a proper network of local, national and international contacts and a keen knowledge of your business/organization’s operating requirements.• Plan for all possibilities.• Whole of business approach.• Integrate the crisis management plan.
BANGKOK, THAILAND PROTESTS & RIOTS MARCH – MAY 2010• Politically-fueled protests & riots• 2006 – 2010 Protests / Riots / Incidents• 2006 military coup / overthrow Smoke billows from a commercial area of Bangkok where Red Shirt demonstrators had their camp in downtown Bangkok on Wednesday. Thai fire authorities said that arsonists have set 20 locations ablaze in Bangkok, including a massive• Southern Thailand unrest shopping mall and bank branches. Photo by Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images
THAILAND CONCERNS• Little to no comprehensive and/or routinely exercised crisis management plan.• Lack of fully developed and maintained network of contacts.• Plans reflected foreign home office thought processes vice local environment. Photo Credit: CHAIWAT SUBPRASOM/REUTERS
THAILAND CONCERNS• Executives/Managers did not fully understand the security environment.• Lack of information sharing, open and continuous dialogue with both local and foreign government officials.• Lack of a developed and routinely tested crisis communications plan. Photo Credit: Kat Jones/Bangkok
JAKARTA, INDONESIA COMMERCIAL PORT DISTRICT OF TANJUNG PRIOK APRIL 2010 – PORT EXPANSION RIOTS • Protest over historic Muslim tomb • Religion and local beliefs • Previous riots at Tanjung Priok • Affected business in port area • Public perception – local & international• Commercial interests• Foreign engagement• Perception of investors• Stability of area Photo Credit: ANTARA-Saptono
INDONESIA CONCERNS• Little to no comprehensive and/or routinely exercised crisis management plan specific to area of operation.• Lack of whole of organization and partnering approach to the development and maintenance of the crisis management plan.• Lack of fully developed and maintained network of contacts. Photo Credit: ANTARA / Yudhi Mahatma
INDONESIA CONCERNS• Lack of a developed and routinely tested communications plan.• Lack of information sharing, open and continuous dialogue with both local and foreign government officials.• Lack of proper training and equipment hamper government response. Photo Credit: ANTARA/Muhamad Sridipo
CONSIDERATIONS IN PLAN DEVELOPMENT WHOLE OF BUSINESS / ORGANIZATION APPROACH Establish Crisis / Emergency Action teamPlan for all crisis Primary & Secondary possibilities Tripwires & Responses Operations Centers Protect Persons & Assets Ensure Business / Organization Continuity Media & Human Resources Network of public perception Connections Communications Drills & Exercises KNOW YOUR OPERATING ENVIRONMENT
CRISIS MANAGEMENT TEAM• Establish a crisis management team incorporating key personnel from each department.• Supports a “whole of business” approach. Human Safety & Transportation & Resources Finance Security Legal Logistics Front Office CRISIS MANAGEMENT TEAM MGT (example) Operations Facilities Public Medical Communications Relations
KNOW THE BUSINESS / OPERATING ENVIRONMENT• Know your operating environment.• Monitor risk and threat information.• Failure to understand your environment will likely cause or lead to problems, especially during crisis situations. Photo Credit: ANTARA – Yudhi Mahatma
STRENGTHS, VULNERABILITIES, PLANS• Assess your organization’s strengths and vulnerabilities; include vulnerability mitigation factors.• Plan for all crisis possibilities.• Select and plan for primary and secondary crisis/emergency operations centers.
HUMAN RESOURCES• Ensure human resource details are current and complete; Consider budget and payroll issues.• Establish procedures to respond to medical/health issues, emergencies and pandemics.• Select primary and secondary evacuation sites/rally points.• Incorporate an evacuation plan that equally includes both the local and foreign staff.
COMMUNICATIONS• Establish and maintain a sustainable communications network.• Multiple means and methods are preferable: - landline - mobile and satellite telephones - hand-held radios - internet - person to person messenger
NETWORK OF CONTACTS• Establish and maintain an extensive network of reliable contacts.- Local and foreign governments- Security and law enforcement- Military- Private sector- Logistics- Medical- Legal and regulatory entities
Alternate Operations Sites• Identify and plan for alternate business operations sites, to include the administrative and technical information and materials necessary to ensure business continuity.• Includes the identification of alternate manufacturing, warehousing, shipping and other transportation sites.• Consider the loss of key personnel and associated alternative staffing. Photo Credit: FPD Thailand
MEDIA RELATIONS• Establish a media response plan and identify the organization’s spokesperson(s).• Control Your Message• Cannot keep them in the dark• Turn them into allies• They will tell a story with you, or without your input Photo Credit: FPD Thailand
EXERCISE THE PLAN• Ensure all personnel are familiar with the base plan and understand its importance. Home disaster kits with emergency supplies are important.• Conduct routine drills and exercises incorporating varied crisis scenarios. Consider integrating local and foreign government responders.• Establish depth in the plan to ensure continuity should key personnel become unavailable.
WINNING OVER THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE• Crisis management planning must be accepted by the organization’s executives to be effective.• A clear and concise presentation, based on the organization’s vulnerabilities in relation to the operating environment, is critical to success.• Highlight past incidents and outcomes that have affected similar organizations, both in human and material loss.• For statistically-oriented executives, a cost-benefit analysis will also serve to paint a clear fiscal picture, especially when showing the negative impact to organizations.
ARE YOU PREPARED ?• Incorporate the plan into the culture of the organization.• Security professionals should be knowledgeable of the operating environment and engaged across all sectors of an organization’s business profile.• Failure to properly plan for all possible events endangers the lives of employees and puts the organization’s continuity in jeopardy.• Truly effective organizations plan for and meet the challenge.
Crisis Management Planning Resources Southeast Asia• Asia Crisis and Security Group (ACSG) ASIS International http://acsgroup.org/ http://www.asisonline.org• Australian Government U.S. Department of State http://www.dfat.gov.au https://www.osac.gov• Consolidated Services International G2 Ops, Inc. http://www.consolsvcs.com http://www.g2-ops.com Recommended Reading: “Blindsided: A Manager’s Guide to Catastrophic Incidents in the Workplace” Blythe, Bruce T., Penguin Group Publisher, Copyright 2002
CONTACT INFORMATIONScott M. BernatDirector of Maritime SolutionsG2 Ops, Inc.2700 Avenger Drive, Suite 103Virginia Beach, VA 23452+1 757 761 6655scott.bernat@G2-Ops.com