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 this year’s award recipients to learn why they are driven to give their best.
A GROUND OFFICER AT HEART
Senior Staff Sergeant (SSSGT) Muhammad Andi Sufian Bin Mohd Shah, a Ground Response Force (GRF) officer with Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood Police Centre, gave up going to university for his younger siblings’ educational pursuits. Fourteen years later, he’s finally pursuing his dream of further studies, even as he lives his passion for serving the public.
You’ve been with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) for 14 years; how has the journey been for you?
I served my National Service at Bedok Police Division, then went on to sign-on with SPF. I was then posted to Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood Police Centre in 2007. In 2010, I was posted to Central Police Division to take on duties in SPF's lock-up facilities, but I missed patrolling and interacting with members of the public. I realised that I preferred being a GRF officer as I felt the difference I'd made in people’s lives. Hence, I was posted back to GRF duties at Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood Police Centre in 2013.
What do you love about your work?
It’s very fulfilling because every action that we take may seem small at the moment, but has the power to make a difference. As GRF officers, we’re often the first point of contact for members of the public during an incident. Within five short minutes, we can make an impact by lending a listening ear, arresting a suspect or saving lives. To me, the essence of being a Police officer is to help people in our community.
Share a memorable experience you’ve had as a GRF officer.
One case that I recall involved a girl who was about six or seven years old. Her mom owned a store near the Neighbourhood Police Centre and she’d left her daughter unattended for a short while. The girl then roamed around and had gotten lost.
We were notified and searched the area for about four hours, combing several 50-storey-high blocks in the neighbourhood, going floor by floor. We finally located the girl; after she'd gotten lost, she’d followed a kind stranger home. When the girl saw me, she ran up and gave me a hug. It really warmed my heart, and the sense of relief that we felt made all our hard work worth it.
Another case involved a woman who’d locked herself in her flat and threatened to hurt herself. When I looked through a window, I saw her pacing around with a knife. We drew her attention to another part of the flat before entering her unit. We made it just in time to pull her back from an open window; a second later and a tragedy might have occurred. Moments like these are a validation of my work as a Police officer.
Why did you decide to study for a Bachelor of Public Safety and Security at the Singapore University of Social Sciences?
Prior to my National Service, I’d done well enough to get into a university. However, growing up as the eldest of three siblings in a lower-income family, I decided to support my siblings’ educational pursuits instead. Now that I’m older, I hope to finally pursue my dream. I want to improve and, in turn, better contribute to SPF. That’s why I worked hard to improve myself and meet the high standards for the Scholarship.
What does receiving this Scholarship mean to you?
I’m grateful for the support that MHA has given, and I feel privileged to be granted this opportunity. I’ve never regretted becoming a Police officer and this Scholarship will motivate me to work even harder! – INTERVIEWED BY JOASH TAN
SAFEGUARDING SINGAPORE A LEGAL CLAUSE AT A TIME
Ms Caryn Wong is one of the recipients of the MHA Postgraduate Scholarship to read a Master of Law (LLM) in Columbia Law School. A Legal Counsel with MHA’s Legal Division, Caryn seeks to safeguard Singapore with her legal knowledge.
Tell us about your journey with MHA.
It has been really fulfilling. When I was young, my ambition was to be a Police officer. However, after graduating with a law degree, I went into private practice and worked on cases involving civil law, criminal law and family law. But I didn’t always get a sense of satisfaction from my work.
I joined MHA’s Legal Division six years ago and have learnt a lot through working with MHA’s Policy Development Division, Joint Operations Group and Human Resource Division, as well as the various Home Team Departments. Over the years, I’ve provided legal advice on policies and operational matters related to public order; race and religion; civil defence; Police licensing; and prison and immigration matters. Our legal knowledge helps our Home Team Departments enhance their operations and policies for the good of Singapore. Now, every day after I’ve gone home, I can tell myself that I did good work.
What prompted you to pursue an LLM?
I’m interested in studying more about international law as well as laws related to subjects such as drugs, immigration, social media, hate speech and fake news. These are ongoing issues that we face. I want to study the laws of other countries to see how they can be applied to our context. Doing an LLM will let me learn about these subjects with peers who have a similar interest and deeper knowledge.
What do you find most meaningful about your work as a Legal Counsel?
It’s when the legal advice I provide helps to solve a problem. One example is when we advised the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority
on immigration matters before COVID-19 laws were passed. In early 2020, when the number of COVID-19 cases started to rise, Singapore was concerned with securing our borders against those who could pose a public health risk. Our existing immigration laws didn’t cover public health matters of this scale, and because such issues were time-critical, we had to move fast and be very thorough in providing our recommendations. Thankfully, such issues were largely resolved once the COVID-19 laws were passed. – INTERVIEWED BY LYNN NG
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE IDEA
As part of the Exhibits Management Team, Investigation Division, Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), SSSGT Jeff Chia manages exhibits submitted by Investigation Officers (IOs) for their respective cases. A self-confessed technophile, Jeff’s consuming curiosity about how things work drove him to take up a part-time Bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security and Computer Science at Murdoch University, to further his learning journey and self-development.
What inspired you to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security and Forensics and Computer Science?
PHOTO: Rytasha Passion Raj
Having the right technical and coding knowledge can help us streamline our work and improve how we utilise our resources. This motivated me to take this specific degree. In fact, I’ve already begun applying skills that I learnt in class to my work, for example on CNB’s next-generation case management system, IDEAS II (Integrated Drug Enforcement Administrative System II) and the Mobile Diary, which allows our ground officers to make electronic records of incidents and conduct screening on persons and vehicles remotely.
What’s a day of work like for you?
Besides being involved in enhancements to IDEAS II and the Mobile Diary, I photograph, tag and document exhibits that are crucial to CNB’s investigations. I also send drug exhibits to various laboratories for analysis and arrange non-drug exhibits for safe-keeping. This work supports our Investigation Officers by allowing them to focus on time-critical investigations.
PHOTOS: Rytasha Passion Raj
I’m also a Video Recording Interview (VRI) liaison officer. VRIs provide an objective account of the interview process and help to strengthen public confidence in the integrity of our processes.
What challenges did you face while pursuing your degree?
I consider myself a late bloomer as I wasn’t academically inclined as a secondary school student. But I challenged myself to do my best for this degree.
During this period, both of my parents also fell ill and were unable to work. So I helped to take care of them and bore most of the medical fees and household expenditures. Whenever I met a setback, I bear in mind my father’s advice to face every challenge with a positive mindset. My family was very proud of me when I received the MHA Study Award. It’s a path that I never imagined myself taking, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
What do you hope to achieve in your career?
Digital transformation is important and I hope to support CNB’s ongoing efforts to provide tech-related training for our officers. This will help us to embrace digitalisation and leverage technology to keep Singapore drug-free! – INTERVIEWED BY RYTASHA PASSION RAJ
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 26 July; read the speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information & Second Minister for Home Affairs.