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Guardians of Our Home: Internal Security, from the Inside

An ISD Research Analyst shares how he helps to safeguard the present, with History as a guide.
PHOTOS: Soo Jun Xiang

Guardians of Our Home is a series that features civilian careers in the Home Team. Check out the MHA Merit Scholarship to learn how you can pursue a fulfilling career and jumpstart your leadership journey as an Internal Security officer.

Research Analyst, Internal Security Department (ISD)
Mention “ISD” and one thinks of top secret assignments and dedicated officers working in the shadows to keep Singapore safe.

That’s not far off the mark; Singapore faces a range of domestic threats to our security, among them the threat of terrorism. To counter these, it’s vital that ISD officers make sense of a plethora of information, surface actionable intelligence and take pre-emptive steps to neutralise threats to Singapore's internal stability. We had the opportunity to learn more about these vital roles from Paul (not his real name), a Research Analyst with ISD. 

Safeguarding the Present, with History as a Guide
Paul’s first encounter with matters of national security occurred during his days as a History undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University. Through an internship with ISD, Paul got to learn how Internal Security contributes to keeping Singapore safe. This experience filled him with a sense of purpose, and he joined ISD after graduating in 2017.


As an ISD Research Analyst, Paul continues to draw on his knowledge of History. “This may come as a surprise to some people, but my work now is heavily based on what I studied in university,” he explained.

According to Paul, his duties involve conducting research on past events in order to reveal information that’s relevant to current threats, such as terrorism. “Understanding threat assessments and policy considerations of the past helps us to make better-informed decisions now,” he said, “and to adapt to fresh challenges.”

At the same time, Paul noted the importance of not being bound by ideas of the past. “We shouldn't be afraid of changing how we operate and respond to new threats,” he shared. “We must be ready to question our assumptions and shift our thinking, given the complex, ever-changing security landscape.” 

Of Sense-making and Information Management
Paul’s duties also include assisting with investigations, identifying radicalised individuals and studying global security trends that may impact Singapore. Sense-making is a daily undertaking for Paul and his fellow officers, one he excels in by having a strong foundation in information management. 

“Information management is part of our daily work,” he explained. “When we draft or amend policies, we need to assess in detail the security threat that an individual and organisation may pose. Many different factors need to be taken into account, and no consideration is left out.”

Another little-known aspect of Paul’s work is its strongly collaborative nature. “We work as a team, and I have supportive supervisors and colleagues who encourage me to share my views and opinions,” he explained. “They are more than happy to hear what I have to say, and I’m glad to share.”

A Well-rounded Perspective

Aside from the supportive team culture and on-the-job training, ISD officers are given many opportunities to grow professionally. Officers may go for courses to develop a more well-rounded perspective on security matters. 

“It’s about broadening our knowledge and being exposed to issues that may not necessarily be related to Internal Security,” said Paul. “This helps us to have a more holistic point of view.”


What drives Paul to give his best is knowing his work saves lives. “In the field of counter-terrorism, we deal with individuals and organisations that pose a genuine threat to Singapore, where lives may be at stake,” he said. “Our work has a direct impact on ensuring public safety, and this is what makes me proud of what we do.” 

Reflecting on his career journey with ISD, Paul had these words of advice for others keen to make a difference: “If you’re interested in a career with the Home Team, keep in mind what’s most important to you. If you find that what speaks to you most corresponds to the Home Team’s mission, then you’re on the right track.” 

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Merit Scholarship 
The MHA Merit Scholarship is awarded to outstanding individuals who are passionate about strengthening Singapore’s security and public safety. 

Recipients of the MHA Merit Scholarship may choose from a variety of exciting and rewarding Home Team careers according to their interests and aspirations. This civilian scholarship offers six career tracks: a generalist track as a Home Affairs Senior Executive and five specialist tracks in Intelligence; Psychology; Commercial Affairs; Science and Technology; and Internal Security. 

Applications are now open! Click here to learn more about the MHA Merit Scholarship.

Guardians of Our Home
- Home Affairs Senior Executive career track: An Eye on the Future
- Intelligence career track: A Police Analyst at Work
- Commercial Affairs career track: Taking a Global View of Fighting Crime
- Psychology career track: Busting Myths About Being a Home Team Psychologist
- Science and Technology career track: At Work with a Crime Scene SpecialistRecovering Digital Evidence to Fight Crime

Written by

Ashley Tuen


9 February 2021

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