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Be A Guardian: Investigating Immigration Offenders

How ICA upholds our laws on immigration and national registration.
PHOTO: Ashley Tuen

Be A Guardian showcases fulfilling career, scholarship and sponsorship opportunities in the Home Team.

Like most Singaporeans, I visited the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) headquarters at Kallang Road over the years to renew my passport. Each time I was there, I was struck by how ICA had improved its service delivery.

A few weeks ago, I visited ICA again, this time to learn about an aspect of ICA’s work that’s just as important as securing our borders and issuing Identity Cards and passports – enforcing our laws on immigration and registration.

Sharing his experiences on the subject was Sergeant (SGT) 2 Lee Geng De, an Investigation Officer (General Investigation Branch) with ICA’s Enforcement Division.

Why did you choose to join the Home Team?
I was looking for a job that allows me to contribute towards Singapore’s safety and security. I came to realise that one aspect of safeguarding Singapore was through border security. As an ICA officer, I play a direct role in maintaining our country’s security.

Tell us about your Home Team journey.
I joined ICA in 2016 and have had several different deployments. I started out as a Primary Screening Officer at Tuas Checkpoint, performing immigration duties such as assessing the eligibility of travellers before granting immigration clearance and conducting forward checks on vehicles.

I was also part of Tuas Checkpoint's Ground Operations staff unit where I managed requests from other public agencies and contributed to projects that enhanced the work processes at our checkpoints. One project that I was involved in was the establishment of dedicated staff lanes at Tuas Checkpoint. This allows our officers to reach and assist travellers with immigration-related issues without disrupting operations.

In 2019, I was posted to ICA’s Enforcement Division.

What are your day-to-day tasks as an Investigation Officer?

We investigate offenders under the Immigration Act, the Passports Act and other related regulations. There isn’t a typical workday for me; it can be an adventure sometimes and we have to always be ready to respond to unexpected challenges.

When we’re out in the field, one of the tools that we use is MAVIS (Mobile Automated Verification and Identification System), a handheld screening device that allows us to verify the identity and immigration status of the person we're checking. This makes our investigative work more efficient.

Tech tool: SGT2 Geng De demonstrating the use of MAVIS, a mobile, handheld biometric screening device that allows ICA officers to perform screenings in the field to check a person's identity and immigration status. PHOTOS: Ashley Tuen 

What’s a common misperception that the public has about the work of ICA officers?
One common stereotype of ICA officers is that we’re only stationed at checkpoints to stamp passports and conduct bag checks on travellers. This is perhaps what the public sees on the surface. In fact, we perform a range of roles, serving as Task Force Officers, First Response Officers, Image Analysts, Profiling Specialists, Investigation Officers and many more. Each of these roles is crucial in safeguarding Singapore’s borders.

Share three qualities that are important to you as an Investigation Officer.
We need to have strong sense-making skills and situational awareness to foresee critical situations as they unfold and consider alternatives. We also need to stay calm and composed when dealing with all sorts of scenarios. Lastly, we should be selfless and place the needs of those we serve above our own.

Be A Guardian of Our Home
A recipient of the Home Team Diploma Study Sponsorship (ICA), SGT2 Geng De pursued a Diploma in Business Informatics at Nanyang Polytechnic.

Keen to become a Home Team Guardian? Visit the MHA Careers webpage to find out more about available Sponsorship and Scholarship opportunities.
- Be A Guardian: Walking the Beat in Queenstown
- Be A Guardian: Saving Lives, with Professionalism and Passion
- Be A Guardian: Helping Young Offenders Embark on a New Chapter in Their Lives
- Be A Guardian: Enforcement and Beyond

Written by

Ashley Tuen


22 October 2019

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