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A Look Back at 2022 (Part 1)

2022 marked a return to normalcy post-COVID. Here’s how our Home Team Guardians stayed ahead of changes in the past year.
A Look Back at 2022 - (part 1) 01

As Singapore reopened our borders and transitioned to COVID-19 resilience in 2022, ICA’s focus shifted from protecting the borders from COVID-19 to supporting and managing the demands posed by the resumption of travel.

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An ICA officer at a land checkpoint. PHOTO: ICA

Facilitating Travel Resumption
To facilitate the resumption of travel, ICA worked with various government agencies to ensure that our systems and resources at the checkpoints were operationally ready and robust. For example, to facilitate cross border movement of daily commuters, ICA worked with MOH to remove the Health Declaration (eHDC) requirement (submitted via the SG Arrival Card) for fully vaccinated Singapore residents and long-term pass holders travelling via the land checkpoints from 15 April 2022.

Managing Surge in Passport Applications
When global travel restrictions further eased in early 2022, many Singaporeans were looking forward to travel, leading to a massive surge in passport applications. In June 2022, ICA issued more than 5,000 passports per day – almost thrice the number pre-COVID-19 in 2019. To meet the increased demand, nearly 300 officers from various work units were deployed to assist in processing and producing passports round the clock.

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ICA officers checking the new passports. PHOTO: ICA

Transforming Cargo Clearance Process
To manage the increasing cargo volume, ICA transformed the cargo clearance process with the New Clearance Concept (NCC). The “On-the-Fly” Clearance initiative provides a seamless and efficient cargo clearance experience for ICA’s industry partners (i.e. importers and transport companies), through greater use of automation and paperless clearance. Automating the processes will also enable ICA to redeploy officers to take on higher value tasks, for example as Image Analysts and Cargo Profilers.

Expanded Role in Border Security
To further enhance border security capabilities, ICA has taken over the protective security functions at land checkpoints from Police. From 3 January 2023, ICA will be the first responders to security incidents at the land checkpoints. This transition would enable ICA to achieve greater operational coordination and provide clearer lines of responsibility and command and control in border security incidents. 

A multi-agency ground deployment exercise codenamed “Genesis” was conducted at Tuas Checkpoint on 16 November 2022, to validate ICA’s response plan in the event of a security incident, involving over 200 personnel from MHA, ICA, SPF and SCDF.

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ICA officers at Exercise Genesis. PHOTO: ICA

Going Digital
As part of ICA’s Services Centre Next Generation’s ‘3N’ vision (No Fuss; No Visit; No Waiting) that provides greater convenience for customers, a new mobile application, MyICA Mobile was launched on 26 April 2022. 

The app provides a one-stop platform for everyone to transact with ICA anytime, anywhere. It includes access to the SG Arrival Card e-Service for residents and visitors to submit their health declaration and arrival information. The birth and death certificates were digitalised and registration processes simplified since 29 May 2022. 

Parents can register the birth of their newborns via LifeSG application following which, parents will be notified to download the digital birth certificate via the ICA website or MyICA Mobile. 

The streamlined death registration process has removed the need for the NOK of the deceased to register the death. After the death is certified by a registered medical practitioner, an NOK will be able to download the digital death certificate from the My Legacy portal.

HTX organised its first TechX Summit (TXS), themed “Transforming Tomorrow, A Safer World For Everyone" from 5 to 8 April 2022. The summit brought experts and thought leaders from around the world to share insights on leading S&T trends that are transforming public safety and security.

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Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr Teo Chee Hean speaking at the TXS. PHOTO: HTX

It also featured a wide spectrum of projects being studied, developed, and tested by HTX to force-multiply the Home Team in solving crimes, saving lives, enhancing public safety and security, securing borders, and safeguarding data and systems.

The technologies, which spanned the “Man, Machine and Mission” domains, included the Prison Automated Screening System, a first-of-its-kind urine procurement and illicit drug screening system; speech-to-text tools such as a transcription system for emergency calls; and an Unmanned Surface Vessel.

Refining Capabilities of Emergency Responders
Jointly developed by HTX and SCDF, the new Emergency Responders’ Fitness Conditioning and Enhancement Lab (ExCEL) is a purpose-built research & development and training facility that will enhance and redefine the capabilities of emergency responders across the HT.

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An officer undergoing assessment at the ExCEL. PHOTO: HTX

Breezing Through Immigration Clearance
Travellers going to Malaysia by car may soon experience a contactless and seamless immigration self-clearance process when they return to Singapore with the Automated Passenger In-Car Clearance System (APICS).

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A summary of how APICS work. GRAPHIC: HTX

Conceptualised by HTX, APICS is a proof-of-concept project that uses automation solutions to enable travellers to perform self-clearance safely and securely in the comfort of their vehicles. A live trial was conducted at Old Woodlands Checkpoint from June to October 2022.

Similar to the current biometric immigration clearance at the airport, APICS integrates contactless biometric scanners, sensors, cameras, and other features to provide a secure, seamless, and comfortable clearance flow for drivers and their passengers.

Welcome and Goodbye
On 1 November 2022, Mr Aubeck Kam succeeded Mr Chew Hock Yong, who served as the inaugural Board Chairman from 1 December 2019 to 1 November 2022. Mr Chew retired after 31 years of distinguished service in the Singapore Public Service.

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HTX officers with Mr Chew Hock Yong (back row, 7th from left). PHOTO: HTX

During Mr Chew's tenure, he oversaw the establishment of HTX to develop science and technology capabilities for Home Team operations. Significant progress was made in the development of transformative science & tech capabilities for the Home Team such as the New Clearance Concept for more secure and automated immigration clearance, and other innovations in the areas of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives, Forensics, Human Factors and Simulation, and Robotics, Automation and Unmanned Systems.

On 1 August 2022, the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) was reconstituted to form the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) to regulate the entire gambling landscape in Singapore. Officers came together as one GRA to mark this significant milestone by affirming their commitment to GRA’s new role and they received a commemorative medallion inscribed with GRA’s mission, vision and values.

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Group photo of GRA officers. PHOTO: GRA

GRA held its Inauguration Ceremony and Workplan Seminar on 16 August 2022, with the theme “New Chapter, Renewed Purpose”. The event was graced by 2Min Josephine Teo who officially launched the GRA logo.

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Inauguration of GRA where the new GRA logo was launched. PHOTO: GRA

In her keynote address, 2Min highlighted the formation of GRA as an important next step for gambling regulation in Singapore, and commended GRA for having come a long way since its beginnings as the Casino Regulation Division in MHQ in 2005. An exhibition was also held during the event to showcase GRA’s milestones, regulatory regimes and transformation efforts.

2022 has been an eventful year for GRA officers, from laying the groundwork for the establishment of GRA, and conducting thorough probity investigations before licensing Singapore Pools and 25 Gaming Machine Room operators under the new Gambling Control Act 2022, to launching its new regulatory approval and licensing systems. GRA will continue to harness technology to enhance operational effectiveness and efficiency.

In 2022, CNB continued to intensify its efforts in enforcement, community and international engagement and preventive drug education, to tackle the drug problem. 

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Some of the buildings lit up in green as part of the DrugFreeSG Light-up 2022. PHOTO: CNB

Rallying the Local Community
On 26 June 2022, a total of 35 community partners including eight first-timers, participated in the DrugFreeSG Light-Up by illuminating their buildings in either green or white – the colours of the Anti-Drug Ribbon.

CNB also held DrugFreeSG Pop-Ups at Yishun Public Library and Suntec City East Atrium. The Pop-Ups featured immersive rooms that simulated the negative effects of drug abuse, quizzes, and an interactive pledging mechanism for the community to pledge their support for a drug-free Singapore.

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MOS Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim at the DrugFreeSG Pop-Up. PHOTO: CNB

CNB also collaborated with United Against Drugs Coalition (UADC) members and community partners to push out the anti-drug message within the community. Some of the collaborations included displaying preventive drug education (PDE) publications in community libraries for children and youth, as well as a football mentorship programme with SINDA Football Club to promote youth development and strengthen resilience through sports.

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Some members of the SINDA Football Club. PHOTO: CNB

Rallying the Global Community
In October 2022, CNB organised an inaugural Workshop on Singapore’s Drug Control, which brought together senior officials from law enforcement and drug control agencies of 17 countries.

The four-day workshop shared on Singapore’s comprehensive harm prevention strategy against drug abuse, and provided a holistic view of our drug control approach through site visits in partnership with various agencies. The workshop was part of CNB’s commitment to expand capacity building to other countries in combatting the world drug problem.

Preventive Drug Education
CNB launched its interactive children’s book “Be Careful! Max” on 26 January 2022. Targeted at preschoolers, the book introduces the topic of stranger danger and serves as a useful resource for parents and educators to better engage children on rejecting offers of unknown substances and encouraging them to seek help from trusted adults.

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Launch of the book "Be Careful, Max!". PHOTO: CNB

To further augment our preventive drug education outreach, CNB ran the annual Anti-Drug Ambassador Activity (AAA), which comprises an activity booklet that aims to impart anti-drug messages to upper primary school students.

On 29 August 2022, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State for the Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development, joined a class of 33 Primary 5 students from Ai Tong School participating in the AAA, and led an anti-drug ribbon folding exercise to pledge support for the drug-free cause.

MOS Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim engaging students participating in the AAA. PHOTO: CNB

Strengthening Regulations
CNB listed 13 new psychoactive substances (NPS) as Class A controlled drugs in the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) with effect from 1 June 2022. Their listing in the First Schedule empowers CNB to take decisive action against the abuse and trafficking of such substances.

Leveraging Technology
Since March 2022, CNB started the use of portable drug screening test kits to augment drug detection capabilities on the ground, for example at the checkpoints. The test kits can detect a wider variety of drugs in suspicious exhibits, and yield results up to four times faster.

Change of Command
On 1 November 2022, Mr Tee Chong Fui Sam took over as Director of CNB from Mr Ng Ser Song, who retired after a 35-year career in the Home Team where he spent 10 years leading CNB. At the Change-of-Command Ceremony, Mr Tee received the CNB Command Mace from Mr Ng.

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Mr Ng Ser Song (left) handing over command to Mr Tee Chong Fui Sam (right). PHOTO: CNB

The year 2022 marked a year of many firsts for YRSG, as it continued to engender a society of second chances.

Friends of YRSG
The “Friends of Yellow Ribbon Singapore” Telegram channel (t.me/friendsofyrsg) was launched on 17 June 2022. The channel, together with YRSG’s Facebook and Instagram pages, aims to connect and inspire the community to be each other’s advocates of second chances. Advocates are able to keep in touch with YRSG and stay updated with the latest news, volunteering opportunities, events and more.

Inaugural YR Connects
YRSG held its inaugural networking session “YR Connects – An Inclusive Society, A Nation Beyond Second Chances” in April 2022. The dialogue was attended by over 30 key industry stakeholders comprising trade associations and employers to champion an inclusive Singaporean workforce that supports second chances by hiring ex-offenders.

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A panel session during the YR Connects. PHOTO: YRSG

The attendees brought different perspectives to the discussion on how to better support ex-offenders. As part of the dialogue, YRSG also outlined its employment support initiatives over the next few years, such as the TAP (Train And Place) & Grow initiative.

Inaugural Precision Engineering Graduation Ceremony
The inaugural batch of 17 inmates from the TAP & Grow – Precision Engineering Training Programme graduated in April 2022. A ceremony was held at the Changi Prison Complex to mark the occasion.

Started in 2020, the Precision Engineering Training Programme is a collaboration between YRSG, Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). The programme is part of YRSG’s TAP & Grow initiative, which brings together like-minded employers, training institutions and community partners to set up training academies inside prisons. 

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MOS Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim meeting inmates who graduated from the TAP & Grow Precision Engineering Training Programme. PHOTO: YRSG

The Precision Engineering Training Programme aims to train and prepare inmates for jobs in the precision engineering industry after their release. After completing the required modules, participants were awarded the Workforce Skills Qualifications Advanced Certificate in Precision Engineering. Those who wish to deepen their skills in Precision Engineering were also eligible to enroll in the ensuing Diploma in Precision Engineering programme at NYP upon their release.

Yellow Ribbon Race
The Yellow Prison Run this year was rebranded to the Yellow Ribbon Race. Themed “I Race for Second Chances”, the race comprised a virtual component (Foot, Water, Wheels) and a physical run, which took place on 25 September 2022.

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Guest-of-Honour DPM Lawrence Wong at the Yellow Ribbon Race Carnival. PHOTO: YRSG

Participants showed great determination and braved the rainy weather to complete the run. Collectively with the help of all participants and community partners, Yellow Ribbon Race raised over $160,000 that will go towards developing and implementing rehabilitation programmes for inmates, ex-offenders and their families.

Read Part 2.

Written by

Elaine Lee


6 January 2023

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