"Stability does not come naturally to Singapore.
We are peculiarly vulnerable.
If our balance of security and stability is shattered
It is doubtful if we on our own can ever put Singapore together again"
--- Lee Kuan Yew
OUR MISSION is to keep Singapore safe and sovereign for all Singaporeans. To do so, we collect accurate intelligence, make impartial assessments and take timely action to counter security threats to Singapore’s internal stability and sovereignty. We do this, without fear or favour, because we passionately believe that Singapore belongs to all its citizens regardless of colour or creed and that for a small, multi-racial city state, our collective survival hinges on continued stability and security.
IN PURSUING the critical role we play to safeguard Singapore’s survival, we constantly strive to attain professional excellence in our craft and shall not yield to contented mediocrity. We recognise the value of each individual but we value the Team above him for we know that our strength and resilience and therefore, our success, must ultimately stem from the unity and synergy of the Team.
ABOVE ALL, therefore, we cherish the character qualities of Integrity, Courage, Loyalty, and Self-Sacrifice, for ours must always be a cause greater than our self.
Singapore, like every sovereign country in the world today, faces security threats from international terrorism, foreign subversion and espionage. In addition, however, Singapore being a multi-ethnic society, faces a major potential threat from communalism or racial and religious extremism. This reflects the sense of a vulnerability inherent and fundamental in our makeup as a society.
It is the task of the Internal Security Department (ISD) to confront and address these security issues and latent threats. In order to do so, the ISD has both intelligence collection and executive functions. It collects and analyses intelligence and presents its assessments and policy recommendations to the Government. It also investigates and where necessary takes direct action in relation to the defined security threats of terrorism or politically motivated violence, foreign subversion, espionage and communal extremism.
The operational charter of the ISD is confined within the sovereign territory of Singapore – it is not empowered to operate overseas. Within Singapore, the ISD’s powers of investigation and arrest are identical to Police powers and are likewise regulated and governed by the laws of the land, in particular, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Internal Security Act and the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act. The ISD also has administrative functions pertaining to the protective security of the public sector. It is responsible for setting standards and acts as the security consultant for public sector agencies (excluding the Defence Ministry). In addition, the ISD is also responsible for intelligence support and security planning functions relating to the national contingency response to incidents of terrorism or civil disorder.
History of ISD
A Special Branch was created after World War I in 1918 by the British colonial government in Singapore to specifically deal with subversion. In 1945, after the end of World War II, the Malayan Security Service was established with Singapore as the Headquarters. On 23 August 1948, ISD’s direct forerunner was established as the Special Branch.
Above: The Special Branch headquarters,
Above: ISD at Phoenix Park,
In 1963, when Singapore joined the Malayan Federation the Special Branch became part of the Malaysian Special Branch. However, after separation from Malaysia in 1965, the Special Branch became part of the Ministry of the Interior & Defence until 17 February 1966 when it was formally established as the Internal Security Department (ISD).
Above: ISD Complex at New Phoenix Park,