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Industry Spotlight: Security Association Singapore

How our security industry partners work together with the Home Team to keep Singapore safe and secure.
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

Established in 1978 to represent the security and private investigation industry, the Security Association Singapore (SAS) now has 170 members and is a vital industry partner in helping to keep Singapore safe and secure. 

This year, SAS received the Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award (Home Team Partner) in recognition of its efforts on behalf of the security industry. We caught up with Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, President of SAS, to learn how security agencies, unions and public agencies are working together to deliver better security outcomes for Singapore.  

How did you first join the security industry, and what do you love about it? 
I joined the security agency TwinRock Pte Ltd as CEO in 2015. TwinRock was started by my dad and is family-owned; before that, I was in private practice as a lawyer. 

I love how the industry is diverse and ever-evolving. We have established agencies and start-ups; large agencies and small ones; agencies that specialise in very niche areas such as body-guarding and others that are more traditional in their approach and outlook. 

There’s also growing recognition that the security industry spans a range of services. With the implementation of the Security Industry Transformation Map (ITM) in 2018, the industry will continue to evolve, with a growing focus on – and market space for – integrated solutions that must incorporate consultancy, technology and manned guarding. This diversity will ensure that we can offer holistic, bespoke solutions to buyers. 
Tell us more about SAS.
SAS was established in 1978 as the first trade association to represent the security and private investigation industry. We now have over 170 members comprising security agencies, security systems companies, training organisations and private investigation companies. 

SAS works closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Ministry of Manpower, Enterprise Singapore, the Infocomm Media Development Authority and many other agencies. We also collaborate with our brother security trade associations like the Security Systems Association of Singapore and the Association of Certified Security Agencies, as well as the Union of Security Employees

Tech advantage: The security industry has increasingly embraced the use of technology to provide better security outcomes. PHOTOS: SAS

How has the security industry changed since the implementation of the Security ITM in 2018? 
A very significant change has been the drive to promote outcome-based contracting. Tenders for outcome-based contracts will help security buyers to source for the most efficient and effective security solutions, which almost always must include a combination of security manpower and security technology. 

This will help move the industry away from a reliance on head-count, and create space for more security technology to be deployed in Singapore. These solutions are also cost-effective and will ensure the long-term sustainability of buyers’ security operations, at the same level of effectiveness. 

SAS has strongly supported the drive towards outcome-based contracting. Together with the Singapore Police Force’s Centre for Protective Security, we’ll soon be launching an online outcome-based contracting tender generator and repository to help service buyers navigate the tender drafting process, which we believe will significantly increase the number of outcome-based contracts in the security industry. 

What are some of the signs that indicate prospects for the industry remain positive? 
There’s now a greater realisation that security solutions should include technology – this helps us to redesign our officers’ jobs, and moves them up the value chain. It also ensures better and more cost-effective outcomes for buyers. 

The Progressive Wage Model will continue to raise wages for Security Officers to ensure that these reflect the importance of their functions. We should also try to prevent these increases from being stymied by COVID-19. We’re also heartened that MHA is looking at making amendments to the Private Security Industry Act so as to better protect security officers from abuse

On the frontline: Security Officers have played a vital role as part of the national response to COVID-19. PHOTOS: SAS

Congratulations to SAS for having received the Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award (Home Team Partner) this year. How do you feel about receiving the Award?
SAS is humbled and honoured to have received the Award. We see it as recognition for the way we’ve carried out our representation of our industry, and will continue to do our best.

SAS sets out to be a responsible, substantive and realistic representative of the security industry. We see ourselves as a partner of the Government, working together with the unions, towards best outcomes for our industry, security officers and businesses. 

Ultimately, all the tripartite partners want to achieve good for our industry. This often requires compromise and negotiation. SAS has not shied away from taking positions tangential from other stakeholders when there has been a need to do so, but we’ve always done so in a considered and substantive manner. In particular, we’ve had an especially good working relationship with MHA, with a willingness on both sides to listen and understand each other, and we’re grateful for this. 

A meeting of the SAS Executive Committee (left); Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, President of SAS. PHOTOS: SAS

Finally, what’s one message you’d like to share with the public about the agencies and officers you represent? 
The security industry is dynamic and continuously evolving towards incorporating more technology and expertise. We offer many opportunities for entrepreneurs and job-seekers, at all levels. We’ve moved significantly from traditional jaga [guarding] functions to encompass sophisticated and dedicated operations. And we’ve only just started; In five to 10 years, with the widespread adoption of outcome-based contracts, a leaner and better-skilled workforce empowered by technology, and a new crop of digital-savvy leaders, the security industry will be a leading sector in Singapore.

Security Industry Transformation Map (SITM)
The SITM was launched in 2018 to transform the private security industry into one that is technologically advanced and which delivers better security outcomes and jobs. 

Minister for Home Affairs National Day Awards 2020
This year, Home Team National Day honours were given out to officers, volunteers, partners and members of the public in these categories:
• 12 Awards – Home Team Partner (this newly inaugurated honour recognises organisations for their exemplary contributions in partnering the Home Team to keep Singapore safe and secure)
• 105 Awards – Individual
• Three Awards – Team
• 15 Awards – Home Team Volunteer
• 33 Awards – Public Spiritedness

This year’s Home Team National Day Observance Ceremony was held via video conference on 29 July 2020. Read the speech delivered by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, at the Observance Ceremony. Congratulations to SAS and the other Award recipients.

Read: Industry Spotlight: Association of Certified Security Agencies

Written by

Mike Tan


31 August 2020

Security Industry
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