The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Scholarship and Sponsorship Awards are presented to Home Team officers to acknowledge their outstanding service and affirm their potential to further contribute to keeping Singapore safe and secure. We spoke to three of this year’s award recipients to learn why they are driven to give their best.
PAVING THE WAY
As the first Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer to be awarded an MHA Postgraduate Sponsorship in Paramedicine, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Janice Oh hopes to further her knowledge of research, to better drive policies and technological innovations for the future.
Having been with SCDF for 23 years, LTC Janice is a veteran in her field. She first served as a Paramedic before enrolling in the Rota Commander Course to qualify as a Fire and Rescue Senior Officer, becoming the first SCDF Paramedic to cross over into firefighting.
LTC Janice is currently the Senior Assistant Director of SCDF’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department where she oversees SCDF’s ambulance fleet and daily operations as well as the implementation of policies such as the EMS Tiered Response Framework.
Why did you choose to study for a Master of Advanced Paramedic Practice degree with Monash University?
PHOTO: Rytasha Passion Raj
My responsibilities include developing policies, setting operating procedures and ensuring that our ambulances are operationally ready. I chose to pursue a three-year, postgraduate degree because it will provide me with an in-depth understanding of paramedicine, covering aspects such as clinical practice, research and leadership. This is important especially when moving into positions of leadership to drive policies and technological innovations, to cope with the ever-evolving EMS operational landscape. Taking up this Sponsorship also enhances my personal development, giving me a deep sense of meaning and fulfilment.
How will your studies help you in your duties?
The academic knowledge I learn will come into play when I evaluate, research and develop operational policies, such as the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to wear at different stages of the COVID-19 outbreak; the Human Factors and Ergonomics to consider when managing mass casualty incidents; or even cases involving single patients.
I hope to maximise and apply what I've learnt during my tour with SCDF. For example, one of the modules I took last semester was on Human Factors and Ergonomics, which covers the relationship dynamics between individuals and teams. Such knowledge can be recontextualised and applied to SCDF’s own practices, to enhance our service delivery and clinical efficiency.
Having served with SCDF for 23 years, how has your work evolved over the decades?
Over the course of my career, I’ve gone from serving on ambulances and fire engines to assuming a senior supervisory role. Looking back, there isn’t a particular incident that has struck me more than others, but rather, the many cases have all added up. In my various vocations, I’ve seen life and death up close – from delivering babies in the ambulance to the unfortunate loss of lives. It’s been life-changing and has provided me with a different perspective on life. I’m fortunate to be given the opportunity to go through what I have over the past two decades.
There have definitely been many changes over the years as part of SCDF’s transformation. These initiatives include the introduction of our EMS Tiered Response Framework to prioritise our resources and quicken response times; the implementation of High-Performance CPR; and the introduction of Medical-Enabled appliances to respond to time-sensitive cases under our response framework. Such cross-training initiatives empower our officers by broadening their skillsets.
What do you find most meaningful about your work?
While there are ups and downs, I find every part of my work meaningful. I love taking on different challenges and learning new things; things aren’t always easy, but it’s in such moments that we find a way to lift ourselves up again.
I’m also fortunate to have a supportive family and colleagues. My husband helps out with household chores; and taking on a postgraduate degree alongside my teenage daughter spurs her to study just that little bit harder. I know things will get tough at times. But as I’ve learned over the course of my career, it’s all about how we choose to perceive and make meaning out of the challenges we face. – INTERVIEWED BY CHLOE LOW
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
As a Deputy Team Leader with the Protective Security Team, Checkpoint Inspector (1) Muhammad Kamil Bin Mohd Mustafa is a first responder, acting swiftly to mitigate security incidents at Tuas Checkpoint. Having served with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) since 2015, he explains why adaptability is key to his team’s success.
Tell us more about your work as a Deputy Team Leader.
PHOTO: Rytasha Passion Raj
I’ve been in service for six years and, in 2018, was assigned to be a Deputy Team Leader. I was relatively new to the role and my colleagues helped me throughout my journey. As a Deputy Team Leader, I attend to security incidents with my team and ensure that the various response protocols are adhered to. I'm also responsible for maintaining the team’s morale, which is essential in carrying our daily duties efficiently.
What inspired you to pursue a degree in Public Safety and Security at the University of Social Sciences?
I want to learn more about border security, not just in Singapore, but in other ASEAN countries as well. I can then apply best practices from what I’ve learnt to Singapore’s context and further strengthen the enforcement efforts at our border checkpoints. I’ve always wanted to pursue a degree, so when I heard how an MHA Degree Scholarship will allow me to pursue subjects that are relevant to my job, I told myself to work hard to achieve it!
What are the leadership qualities that are most important to you?
These include being adaptable to changes and ensuring that proper guidance is given to my team, to help them navigate through the changes. One example of this is the new job role my team undertook when COVID-19 struck. When the outbreak happened, traveller volume was reduced but cargo volume remained high. In order to ensure the smooth flow of essential goods and cargoes into Singapore, my team was redeployed to assist with managing the flow of cargo traffic at Tuas Checkpoint. We adapted quickly to the new job role while still attending to security incidents at the checkpoint.
As the Deputy Team Leader, I also had to ensure that my teammates were sufficiently trained in the operating procedures required of our new role and address any concerns they had, so that we can perform our duties confidently and effectively.
Another important quality is communication. I’ve always told my team that any challenge can be solved, with open communication. If you have a problem, highlight it so that we can address it right away, together. That’s one thing we’ve established among ourselves; even if only one or two officers are attending to a case, we’ll keep the whole team informed to ensure all gaps are addressed.
What do you love most about your work as an ICA officer?
My colleagues! Shift work can be draining, but my colleagues and supervisors make the journey easier. They also push me to do better, so when there was an opportunity to apply for the MHA Degree Scholarship, they encouraged me to go for it! – INTERVIEWED BY RYTASHA PASSION RAJ
A NEW BEGINNING
A Psychologist with the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), Ms Priyathanaa d/o Kalyanasundram received the MHA Postgraduate Scholarship and will be embarking on a Master of Science in Clinical Forensic Psychology at King’s College London. She hopes the Scholarship will help her support the rehabilitation of offenders.
Tell us about your journey with SPS.
I’ve always had an interest in understanding human behaviour and the reasons behind people’s actions, and this motivated me to take up a degree in Psychology. During my undergraduate days, I developed an interest in learning about why people offend, what I can do to support their rehabilitation and, most importantly, how I can help people improve the quality of their lives.
I’ve served with SPS since 2015. As a Psychologist, I conduct risk assessments and psychological interventions for offenders with mental illnesses, or those who have committed sexual or violent offences, to address their risks of re-offending.
What made you decide to apply for the MHA Postgraduate Scholarship?
Some ex-offenders, especially those with mental health issues, can experience prejudice after they’ve completed their sentences. If they also have unresolved personal issues and trauma, or face adverse environments, they may find it hard to break away from unhelpful behaviours that lead them to re-offend. I want to better understand how offending behaviours develop and their association with mental health difficulties, so that I can better help them.
The Master programme will help to sharpen my clinical and psychological expertise, and allow me to learn from international best practices, so that I can provide effective assessment and intervention services. For me, this Postgraduate Scholarship isn’t the end of my journey, but a new beginning in terms of helping to keep Singapore safe and secure.
What difficulties do you face in your work as a Psychologist, and how did you overcome them?
The population of offenders that I work with can be clinically complex and, understandably, due to the nature of their crimes, can evoke strong emotions. While providing interventions for them, I may have to manage therapy-interfering behaviours, emotional outbursts or a low sense of motivation, which can be challenging to cope with.
Yet, as I spent more and more time on understanding the reasons behind their offending behaviours and processing their thoughts and emotions with them, I realised that I have a special opportunity to truly make a difference. By helping them on their journey of change, I’m contributing to keeping Singapore safe. This keeps me going through the difficult moments.
What do you love about your work as a Captain of Lives?
The diversity of what I do. My core role is to work with offenders to empower them with the knowledge and skills to stay away from re-offending. I also conduct research and apply my findings to develop evidence-based initiatives that enhance prison operations and correctional outcomes. Being able to facilitate authentic conversations and influence a myriad of people, processes and systems – that’s what keeps me energised! – INTERVIEWED BY JOASH TAN
MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship Awards 2021
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's Award Ceremony was held on 27 July; read the speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information & Second Minister for Home Affairs