On Assignment

35 Years as a Home Team Volunteer: Purpose Through Service

Mr Chia Chor Leong, BBM(L) reflects on his journey serving with various Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees for over three decades.
HTBCC LSA Mr Chia Chor Leong 01
PHOTOS: Joash Tan

An arbitrator and mediator, Mr Chia Chor Leong started volunteering in 1987 with the Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees (HT BCCs). Mr Chia first served on the Criminal Law Advisory Committee (Hearing) for 21 years. He also served on the Criminal Law Advisory Committee (Review) and the Singapore Road Safety Council for six years each. Since 2014, Mr Chia is currently serving on two HT BCCs: the Independent Review Panel (IRP) and External Placement Review Board (EPRB). 

For his many contributions over the years, Mr Chia received the Public Service Star (Bar), Public Service Star and Public Service Medal. This year marks his 35th year as a Home Team volunteer, and he received the Long Service Award (35 Years) from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Mr Chia shares his volunteering experience with us.

How did you become a Home Team Volunteer?
I was approached by Professor S. Jayakumar, who was then the Minister for Home Affairs and also my former Dean of Law School at the University of Singapore (now known as National University of Singapore). It was an honour to be asked to serve and a privilege to be given that opportunity to do so, and I readily accepted. 

How has your legal background helped you in your volunteering journey?
I am currently the Chairman of the External Placement Review Board (EPRB). We review cases and make recommendations to the Minister for Home Affairs on whether an inmate should be emplaced to serve his sentence outside the prison compounds. 

Having a legal background helps me to identify the essential considerations and analyse them in our review process. As Chairman, my background in mediation helps us to focus on working towards a practical solution when there are differing opinions during reviews. 

HTBCC LSA Mr Chia Chor Leong 02

Share with us a challenge that you face in your journey.
Over the years, I have come across cases that are not so straightforward. It is often not easy finding the balance between compassion for an individual versus the good of society. 

We each have our own attitudes and differing perceptions towards certain issues but as HT BCC volunteers, we need to ensure that our personal inclinations and beliefs do not cloud our judgement when considering public interest.

To do this, I detach myself from my emotions, be as objective as possible, and ensure that all, and only, the relevant factors are considered. This can be difficult, but our mandate to provide fair, balanced and rational recommendations takes priority.

HTBCC LSA Mr Chia Chor Leong 03
Mr Chia receiving the Long Service Award (35 Years) from Mrs Josephine Teo, Minster for Communication and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs.

What then has been a memorable highlight?
I witnessed how a recommendation we made enabled an inmate to spend his last days reunited with his family outside of prison. It was heartening to see his family’s gratitude towards the decision. 

What has kept you going as a volunteer for so many years?
I believe it is an honour to be asked to serve society and it is a privilege to be able to do so. I want to live a useful life, and I would like to think that I am being useful as a volunteer in public service. The HT BCCs that I have served on do really valuable and important work for the public good, and that knowledge keeps me going.   

Read also Stepping Up for Change.

Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees (HT BCCs)
The Home Team has 42 Boards, Councils, and Committees comprising over 450 respected professionals and community leaders, who serve as critical pillars of support to a wide array of Home Team.

An appreciation lunch was held on 29 October 2022 to thank the HT BCC members for their contributions. Second Minister Mrs Josephine Teo presented Long Service Awards to 41 recipients for their years of dedicated service. Read the speech by Mrs Teo

Written by

Joash Tan


30 November 2022

Community Engagement
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