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Committed to Serve; Eager to Learn (Part 1)

Supporting the learning aspirations of our dedicated Home Team officers.
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Scholarship and Sponsorship Awards are presented to Home Team officers to acknowledge their outstanding service, commitment and passion in keeping Singapore safe and secure, and to affirm their potential to further contribute to the Home Team. We spoke to three of this year’s award recipients to learn why they’re driven to give their best. 

PHOTOS: Rachel Sin

WARRANT OFFICER (WO) 2 MUHAMMAD TAUFIQ BIN SHOPIEOODIN, Deputy Rota Commander, Marina Bay Fire Station, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
MHA Degree Sponsorship Award Recipient: BSc Human Factors in Safety, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)

Tell us about your journey with SCDF. 
I’ve been an officer with the Life-Saving Force for close to 17 years and am fortunate to have taken on various appointments during my time and been recognised for my efforts. I’m now a Deputy Rota Commander at Marina Bay Fire Station, which oversees the business district, the Marina Bay Financial Centre, Tanjong Pagar Terminal and Chinatown. 

Why did you decide to take up this Sponsorship? 
Human Factors is concerned with how people interact with technology and the environment, and touches on matters of workplace safety as well. Understanding Human Factors will help me to stay abreast of the latest developments in the safety industry, which is very much related to my day-to-day work as a firefighter. 

As Home Team officers, we also have to keep up with changes around us, and this requires effort and a learning disposition. After completing my studies, I aim to make a difference and contribute back to the Home Team, with the mission of saving lives.

Sharing his knowledge: WO2 Taufiq (in white helmet) conducting a training session for his team members at Marina Bay Fire Station.

How have your studies been so far? 
I started my studies in July and have been attending my modules online due to the COVID-19 safety measures. I’m still adapting to studying, fulfilling my SCDF duties and my family commitments. I’ve prepared for this by telling myself to embrace the challenge.  

What does receiving this Sponsorship mean to you?
I feel honoured to be among this year’s recipients and am very excited to embark on this learning journey. It encourages me to progress and grow both as an individual and as an SCDF officer. It will allow me gain knowledge and ultimately serve SCDF in the years to come. 

I believe in continuous learning and skills upgrading, and this sets a good example not only to my children, but the SCDF officers under my charge as well. They have high expectations of me, and it’s important that I lead by example. 


NATASHA LIM, Psychologist, Singapore Prison Service (SPS)
MHA Postgraduate Scholarship Award Recipient: Master of Psychology (Clinical), National University of Singapore

How long have you been with SPS, and what does your work involve? 
I’ve been with SPS for over five years. As a Psychologist, my core duties include conducting risk assessments and psychological interventions for offenders with mental illnesses or who have committed violent offences, to address their risks of re-offending. I also conduct research, train correctional officers and develop and implement Psychology-based correctional programmes for offenders. 

What do you love about your work?
It was my experience at the female Psychiatric Housing Unit during my first three years with SPS that truly ignited my passion for rehabilitative work. My role then was to provide interventions for inmates who had complex mental health needs and disruptive behaviours. 

One of my most challenging cases involved a client who’d previously turned to drugs as a means of coping with her trauma and stressors. She was often abrasive towards me during our rehabilitation sessions and had difficulty trusting me, as she'd rarely had positive relationships in her life. 

She was very resistant to intervention but I persisted and empathised with her pain. Over time, she began to trust me and started to exhibit a willingness to change. 

At the end of our intervention, she presented me with a letter and said to me, “I really appreciated that you took your time with our sessions. I have issues with abandonment, but the fact that you stayed on proved to me that not everyone in my life is going to give up on me when things are hard.” 

Seeing her changed narrative was really rewarding for me. Many of our offenders come with their own painful experiences, and we can help by affirming them and empowering them to take mastery over their lives. 

My work has led me to develop a keen interest in understanding mental disorders and the complexities they generate. I want to do more to equip the vulnerable with the proper skills to create long-lasting change.  

Why did you decide to take up the Scholarship?
I really hope to enhance my clinical and psychological expertise in order to improve the quality of my risk assessments and interventions for offenders. With sharpened clinical knowledge and a deeper understanding of the population’s needs, I can also develop more effective, evidence-based programmes for offenders. 

How do you feel about receiving this Scholarship?
It’s a great honour and privilege. Clinical Psychology is my passion, and I’m very excited to be able to further myself in this area. 

My studies will involve coursework, attachments with various medical institutions and completing a thesis. It’s been a little hectic for me lately; I’ve been attending my orientation sessions this week, and my classes will begin in mid-August. I’m looking forward to getting started and am deeply grateful to SPS for granting me this opportunity!


CHECKPOINT INSPECTOR (CI) (1) AMIR HAMZAH BIN MOHAMED TAHIR, Deputy Team Leader, Airport Command, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
MHA Degree Scholarship Award Recipient: Bachelor of Public Safety and Security, SUSS

How long have you been with ICA, and why did you decide to take up the Scholarship?
I’ve served with ICA for 11 years and been posted to various checkpoints. It has always been my goal to further my studies as I want to improve myself to better discharge my duties as an ICA officer. With a degree in Public Safety and Security, I’ll get new insights into the security landscape in Singapore as well as better understand the latest developments on the regional and international front. 

On a personal level, I want to sharpen my critical thinking skills, and hope also that my children will be inspired by my passion to learn earnestly. 

How did you feel when you learnt that you’d received this Scholarship? 
Grateful and immensely humbled. It fills me with pride to be recognised for the work I’ve done, and I’m looking forward to contributing even more to ICA after my graduation. My ultimate goal is to help improve the way our organisation works, no matter how small my contribution might be. This Award gives me the best chance to find my own success in my studies, and eventually in my career as well.

Safeguarding our borders: CI(1) Amir on duty at Changi Airport.

Tell us about your classes.
Our online lessons began in mid-July and I’m taking five modules this semester. We have pre-class readings, quizzes and review sessions, and it’s important that I do my revision consistently. There are about 20 students in the class, many of whom are professionals in the security industry, and it’s been interesting getting to know some of them. 

How have you been coping with your studies? 
I’m still adjusting to the pace. As a working parent with a seven-month-old baby and a three-year-old child, I need to balance my family commitments with my studies, which sometimes means deferring my personal interests. But that’s okay.

I’m grateful that ICA has granted me the opportunity to realise my dream. I’m determined to become a better person not only for myself, but for those I serve. Having dedicated a significant portion of my working life to ICA, I want to give my best to the organisation when I complete my studies.

MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship Awards 2020
The MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship Awards are presented to Home Team officers to acknowledge their outstanding service, commitment and passion in keeping Singapore safe and secure, and to affirm their potential for excellence and further contributions to the Home Team.

This year, 156 Home Team officers were awarded MHA Scholarships and Sponsorships to pursue degree or postgraduate studies in a range of disciplines at local and overseas universities. Learn more about the MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship Awards 2020 and  read the Annexes-MHA-Scholarship-and-Sponsorship-Awards-2020.

Committed to Serve; Eager to Learn (Part 2)
Committed to Serve; Eager to Learn (Part 3)

Written by

Rachel Sin and Mike Tan


7 August 2020

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