Ladies and Gentlemen
As I address you on the back of a year filled with challenges, I am glad that the Singapore Police Force has continued to keep Singapore safe and secure. International agencies such as the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranked Singapore as the top city in the world for personal safety and security in 2003. Today, we pay tribute to the Singapore Police Force, that is to all of you, the officers who make up this Force for the nation.
Battling Crime, Terrorism and other threats
2 Foreigners wonder how a vibrant and busy metropolis like Singapore can keep crime at such low levels. This situation is the result of practical policing efforts and close co-operation between the community and the Police. Last year, the Singapore Police Force met the increase in crime with a significantly greater number of arrests. Your efforts have borne fruit. The number of Total Seizable Offences reported in the first quarter of 2004 registered about seven per cent decrease as compared to the same period last year. The number of public assisted arrests1 remains high, at about 44%.
3 As we focus on battling crime, we also counter terrorism. Acknowledging the need to work together, the Singapore Police Force works with its strategic partners, both locally and internationally, to combat the terror threat in this region. Training is the other crucial path to building strong capabilities. In this regard, the Singapore Police Force has, in the past year, hosted a series of workshops and seminars to learn from and exchange expertise with other experts. These were well attended by regional counterparts in the fields of counter-terrorism, post-blast investigations and countermeasures for explosives and suicide bombers. Officers who attended these seminars and workshops greatly benefited from the cross-agency dialogues.
4 We must also be vigilant against other threats, which may not come in the form of big explosions or armed robbers. For example, last year, during the SARS period, you showed commitment and decisive management of the situation. Well done.
Maintaining Personal and Organisational Resilience
5 Taking on the mantle of dealing with additional responsibilities like terrorism and SARS will tax the personal resolve and well-being of all police officers. It is therefore re-assuring that, despite the increased workload, our officers' morale, as indicated in the results of the Organisational Health Survey 2003, remains high. In the Survey, you performed better than some multi-national companies in the areas of supervision, working relationships, and leadership. The last factor is especially important. SPF's senior management must continue to provide a clear sense of direction for the Force and motivate its officers to greater heights.
6 Indeed, even as we procure the most advanced equipment and technological tools, we must never neglect our most important resource - our people. I am heartened to note that developing our officers to their full potential is a key priority of all units in the Singapore Police Force. In fact, all the units who applied for the People Developer Standard have attained that standard.
7 As the Force continues to protect Singapore, you need to reassess the way you have traditionally interacted with society and the economy. Liberalisation has been a prevalent theme in our efforts to 'remake' Singapore. Here, we have to make careful distinctions between creative enterprise which fosters innovation and reckless ventures
8 I am pleased to note that the Force has evaluated situations based on merit and not stifled creativity and initiative purely for the sake of being cautious. We have hence witnessed the lifting of the ban on bar-top dancing, followed by the designation of 24-hour entertainment zones and even the introduction of reverse bungee-jumping in the past year. A strong economy is a creative and innovative one, and it is important that the SPF does its part to support it.
The Policing of tomorrow
9 As we move into an era of change, the Singapore Police Force must continue to be vigilant against potential threats to Singapore. You have risen to great challenges before. I call on all of you to persevere in your role as the protector of our way of life and to continue to win the trust of the people. On this day, the Singapore Police Force celebrates its successes and pays tribute to its heroes. More importantly however, today, through this Parade, you reaffirm your commitment to serve your fellow citizens and country, for that, in the end, is the most honourable duty of all.
10 Thank you.
1Public-assisted arrests refer to cases where the public has provided information, made a citizen's arrest, or alerted the police to a crime in progress. The selected major offences where the public has provided assistance include cases of outraging of modesty, robbery, housebreaking, motor vehicle theft, snatch theft, rape and murder.