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Passion and Dedication (Part 3)

It’s all about leadership and commitment – two Home Team Guardians share their most meaningful moments as officers.
Home Team News Home Team Promotion Ceremony 2021 03A
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

We spoke to two officers who were part of this year's Home Team Promotion Ceremony to learn more about their most meaningful experiences as Home Team Guardians.

Home Team News Home Team Promotion Ceremony 2021 03B

For Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Samantha Koh, it’s all about driving teamwork and enabling mission success.

DAC Samantha Koh
Deputy Director, Visitor Services Centre, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)

When did you join the Home Team, and why?  
I joined ICA in 1995 when it was known as the Immigration Department. I was attracted to the interesting and multifaceted roles as well as the prospect of working on the frontline at our checkpoints and services centres, and opportunity to do enforcement- or intelligence-related work over the course of my career.            
What’s your current role, and what’s a day of work like for you?  
As Deputy Director of ICA’s Visitor Services Centre, I’m involved in ground operations and policy implementation at the Centre. This includes providing guidance to my teams in processing entry visa applications, regulating the stay of foreigners and granting the appropriate immigration facilities to those who qualify for long-term stay in Singapore. 

Throughout the day, I meet my officers regularly to discuss operational plans, work initiatives and projects to transform our service delivery so as to provide better convenience to the public under the ambit of ICA’s Services Centre Next Generation vision.  

How do you keep yourself motivated when it comes to challenges you encounter in your career?  
It’s useful to reframe our attitude and consider challenges as unique opportunities. I find it helpful to seek advice from experienced colleagues, peers or mentors. I’ve been fortunate to receive guidance from many others in my career, and now I strive to do the same with younger officers. 

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt in the Home Team?  
It’s the power of teamwork. Working collectively, we support each other and leverage on our unique areas of expertise. This makes us better prepared to meet the security challenges of the future. One memorable case involved the arrest and extradition of a Singaporean in 2018 who was involved in a criminal syndicate responsible for defrauding an institution in Singapore. 

The operation to arrest him required speed, intricate planning and utmost coordination with many agencies because of the imminent risk that the suspect, who was overseas at that time, would abscond. If he did, it would be a difficult task to track and nab him. We coordinated closely with fellow Home Team officers as well as other strategic partners like the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I’m glad that we were able to apprehend the suspect, and he was convicted accordingly.     

What do you love most about your work? 
I’ll use my hand as an analogy. The back of my hand represents how my work contributes to making Singapore a safer place for fellow Singaporeans and residents. My palm, which is held closer to me, represents my personal satisfaction in making a positive difference to my fellow officers. In the same way that a hand functions, through my work, I help my colleagues excel in theirs. This sense of teamwork drives our mission success and, in turn, keeps Singapore safe and secure. – Interviewed by Lynn Ng

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Having joined ICA in 2011, SUPT Kalaivanan is now helping to support the Whole-of-Government effort to combat COVID-19. 

SUPT Kalaivanan S/O Pannerchilvam
Assistant Director (Crisis Preparedness Directorate, Joint Operations Group), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)

When did you join the Home Team, and why?
I’ve always desired to be a part of the Public Service. When I was studying in the university, I came across ICA’s recruitment booth at a career fair. It was interesting to learn about the different job roles  ICA officers are exposed to in their career progression, and the wide range of opportunities available. I joined ICA in August 2011, after my graduation.  

What’s your current role?
I was seconded to the MHA in 2018 and am now an Assistant Director with the Crisis Preparedness Directorate under MHA’s Joint Operations Group. I’m part of the secretariat team for the Homefront Crisis Executive Group, which coordinates the Whole-of-Government response to major crises. We’ve been supporting the Multi-Ministry Taskforce in the execution of policies and decisions related to COVID-19.
It’s heartening to see the Home Team step up and support other ministries such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower. For example, our ICA officers helped with the enforcement of the Stay-home Notice regime while the Singapore Police Force conducted contact tracing. These operations have become integral to how we manage COVID-19 today. As a Home Team officer, I’m proud of our role, which has gone beyond our usual duties and contributed to the greater good of Singapore. 

What challenges did you face in this work?
At the very start, we didn’t have much information about the nature of COVID-19, unlike now. There was urgency in putting together policies and that meant we had to gain knowledge and expertise that weren’t typically in our areas of work. We just had to adapt quickly when the button was pressed, to do what needed to be done.

How do you feel about receiving your promotion?
I'm very delighted, of course, but beyond this, I’m grateful for the faith that my supervisors have shown in me.
What advice do you have for someone who’s considering a career in the Home Team? 
After I graduated, I knew that what I wanted was a meaningful career that would allow me to contribute to Singapore. Serving in the Home Team gives me a sense of fulfilment and also many opportunities for growth, as well as exposure to different aspects of what it takes to keep Singapore safe and secure. – Interviewed by Joash Tan

Read Passion and Dedication (Part 1) and Passion and Dedication (Part 2)

Home Team Promotion Ceremony 2021
This year’s Home Team Promotion Ceremony was held on 19 May and saw 6,280 officers from across the Home Team receiving promotions. They comprise regular officers from the Home Team Departments and statutory boards; Operationally-Ready National Servicemen from the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force; and members of the Volunteer Special Constabulary and Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit. Read the speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, at the Promotion Ceremony.

Written by

Lynn Ng and Joash Tan


10 June 2021

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