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Tomorrow’s Guardians: Home Team Scholarships 2020 (Part 1)

It’s all about purpose and passion – four of this year’s Home Team Scholarship recipients share their aspirations.
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Home Team Scholarships are awarded to students who have excelled in their studies and co-curricular activities, displayed outstanding leadership qualities and have a keen interest in pursuing a career with the Home Team. Four of this year’s Home Team Scholarship recipients share why they’ve chosen to serve. Welcome to the Home Team family!

PHOTO: Mike Tan

Inspector (INSP) Sundaram Mohan Shakthi, 19, SPF
Recipient of the SPF Scholarship, studying Psychology at Yale-NUS College
INSP Shakthi chose to pursue a career with SPF because she wants to help the vulnerable in society. As the second woman officer to receive the SPF Scholarship, she brings compassion, commitment and grit to her duties. 

Why did you decide to join SPF?
When I was 16, my family had a dispute at home and had to call the Police for assistance. I saw how the officers who responded worked to ensure that my family members were okay. This made me realise that SPF is more than a crime-fighting force; it’s also an organisation that follows through to ensure the welfare of those who’ve been affected by the actions of others. As a Police officer, I’ll be pursuing a career that allows me to engage with vulnerable groups in our society.

I also completed several attachments with SPF this year and had the chance to see the next-generation Fast Response Car. To me, this vehicle represents how SPF is constantly improving to fulfil its role of keeping Singapore safe. This is aligned with my aspiration of always challenging and improving myself. To receive the SPF Scholarship is an honour, and I hope to inspire others to consider a career in the Public Service.

What are some of the experiences you’ve had in the past that you feel will be valuable to you as a Police officer?
I’ve previously tutored under-privileged students and volunteered at a hospice for the elderly. These experiences made me realise that my passion lies in helping the vulnerable. I’ve learnt to be more empathetic by engaging with people from different backgrounds and seeing the world through their lens. 

How did your friends respond when they learnt you'd joined the Home Team? 
Some of them were surprised initially, but they've been very supportive and full of encouragement. Several of my male friends who’ve gone through National Service shared that it won’t be an easy journey, and thoughtfully made sure that I was better-informed about various aspects of what lies ahead. 

One of the requirements of the SPF Scholarship is that recipients have to complete Basic Military Training (BMT). What was this experience like for you?
It didn’t deter me because I was confident in my abilities. Interestingly, I was the only trainee in my platoon who hadn't signed on with the Singapore Armed Forces, and my BMT experience helped me to learn what it’s like to work with many different people towards a common goal.

The training, field camp and so on also taught me about the culture and values of the uniformed services in general, and I’m looking forward to going through the next phase of my training with SPF.

Why did you decide to pursue a Psychology degree?
I’ve always had an interest in Psychology because it helps us understand the people around us. As Police officers, we have to practise empathy to learn why people are motivated to commit certain acts. I also believe that the knowledge and skills I’ll acquire from a Liberal Arts perspective will allow me to read, write and think even more critically.

PHOTO: Fazlee Rosli

INSP Joey Chang, 22, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
Recipient of the Singapore Government Scholarship (Home Team), studying Geography at the University of Cambridge 
Since his student days, INSP Joey has wanted to contribute to the Singapore’s security and stability. He hopes to offer fresh perspectives as ICA embraces new technological and digital solutions to meet the demands of an ever-changing operational landscape.

Why did you decide to join ICA?
I first learnt about ICA’s operations during a six-month internship in 2019 under the Corporate Communication and Services Division. As a member of the Public Communications team, I was able to get an overview of many different functions of ICA’s work, and came to recognise the valuable effort of the agency and its officers. My decision to join ICA was reaffirmed by the COVID-19 outbreak, which demonstrates how ICA operates as Singapore’s first line of defence when it comes to securing our borders.  

My family has always given me the freedom to pursue my own interests, and they’ve been supportive of me joining ICA. In fact, my father inspired me to consider a career in the Public Service as he’d previously served at the Ministry of Defence

What are some of the experiences you’ve had that you feel will be valuable to you as an ICA officer?
I’m currently serving my second internship stint with ICA, this time at Woodlands Checkpoint with the Ground Operations team, before I begin my studies. This has helped me to better comprehend how policies are translated on the ground, through the implementation of schemes like the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), for example. 

Why do you feel an affinity for the work of the Home Team?
We have to recognise and appreciate the effort that Home Team officers put into maintaining a safe and secure Singapore. They are one of the anchors that help to keep us safe, and we all have a role to play in contributing to this mission. I’m fortunate to have friends who feel the same, and you could say that the conversations we had as students made us apply for the Public Service. I’m grateful to receive the Singapore Government Scholarship so that I can do my part.

Why did you decide to pursue a degree in Geography?
It will allow me to explore a broad range of topics ranging from Physical Geography and Human Geography to Urban Studies and citizenship-related issues. This will challenge me to draw connections between these subjects, and hone my critical thinking skills. I hope to apply what I’ve learnt in both policymaking and operational matters, when we have to think of all the possible contingencies that may arise.

PHOTO: Fazlee Rosli

Kimberly Cheung, 19, Singapore Prison Service (SPS)
Recipient of the Singapore Government Scholarship, studying Politics, Law & Economics at the Singapore Management University 
Inspired by the transformative efforts of Prison officers past and present, Kimberly is keen to contribute to SPS’ vital mission. 

How did you first learn about SPS’ work? 
It was when I was a student at Victoria Junior College. We attended a sharing session by Mr Jason Wong, formerly the Chief of Staff at SPS and founder of the Yellow Ribbon Project back in 2004. After the talk, I got a copy of his book, Trash of Society: Setting Captives Free, which tells stories about how ex-offenders have changed their lives for the better. This showed me the great impact that Prison officers can make.

What also touched my heart was when Mr Wong shared a lovely rendition of the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, which almost brought me to tears. I was inspired by the efforts of SPS and wanted to play my part, so I applied for an internship with SPS after I completed my “A” Levels.

What was your internship experience like? 
I interned with SPS’ Rehabilitation & Reintegration Division for five months. The officers were sincere and very welcoming, and one initiative that I had the opportunity to be a part of was working to develop rehabilitation materials for inmates at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre. During a group counselling session conducted by SPS psychologists and inmates, I also learnt more about the struggles faced by inmates during their rehabilitation journey. 

It’s important that the knowledge and expertise to keep Singapore safe is shared and passed on, and that’s why we as young people need to be ready to contribute to SPS’ mission. Receiving the Singapore Government Scholarship means a lot to me as it will give me the chance to contribute to the community.

Some people have misperceptions about what Prison officers do. How did your friends and family members when you told them about your decision to join SPS?
To be honest, some of my friends were shocked! Initially, my grandparents were also worried, but I convinced them that SPS is about providing ex-offenders with the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and start anew, and that I wanted to be part of this meaningful process. Ultimately, I’ve had nothing but support from everyone around me.

What impact do you hope to make through your work as a Prison officer? 
At the operational level, I hope to show care for inmates through my interactions with them, and to do my best to meet their rehabilitative needs. When it comes to policymaking, I want to continue building on the good work that’s been done by SPS, keep an eye out for ways to improve the rehabilitation system and create initiatives that will benefit both Prison officers and inmates.

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in Politics, Law & Economics?
It’s an interdisciplinary course with three aspects that are directly relevant to the work of the Home Team. I’ll get to learn about governance, policymaking, matters of law and economics (the latter of which touches on livelihoods and jobs, an important component in policymaking considerations). 

PHOTO: Mike Tan

Li Kangli, 22, Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) 
Recipient of the Home Team Local Study Award, studying Computer Science at the National University of Singapore
Kangli’s fascination with technology got a boost during his National Service days when he had the chance to assist with a range of research projects with HTX, sparking his passion for Digital Forensics. 

Have you always loved Science & Technology? 
Yes, I’ve toyed with electronic gizmos since I was in Primary School and was a fan of investigative shows like CSI and the Hong Kong drama Forensic Heroes. As a student at Nanyang Polytechnic, I also took part in various IT-related competitions, and won the top prize at an event sponsored by the multinational tech firm Cisco Systems. As a result, I had the chance to visit Cisco’s headquarters in California, as well as Stanford University, and the whole experience was an eye-opener. It was probably inevitable that I’d end up choosing a career in Science & Technology!

Tell us about your National Service.
During my National Service, I helped with various research projects as part of HTX’ Digital and Information Forensics team. I loved the work culture – the supervisors treated us as friends, and even though I was a Full-time National Serviceman, I was able to share my ideas openly, which I deeply appreciated. 

What were your key takeaways from being a member of HTX’ Digital and Information Forensics team? 
The team conducts forensic investigations of digital devices such as smartphones, hard drives and laptops, so I learnt about how cutting-edge technologies can help our Police officers recover data, generate leads and solve cases. It was a conducive environment for undertaking research, and it made me want to join HTX so that I can contribute in a way that directly helps others.

What are your aspirations as an HTX officer?
During my time with HTX’ Digital and Information Forensics team, I was fortunate to be able to contribute to a number of initiatives, from creating digital portals that track training routines to coding automated scripts that helped improve operational workflows. Now, as cloud technology becomes more pervasive, I’m looking forward to working in this field as well. 

HTX is an organisation that allows me to combine my passion for Research & Development with Digital Forensics. I hope to support the Home Team by becoming a subject expert in Digital Forensics, and one of the things I’m most excited about is getting to work with my former colleagues again, in a different capacity! 

SPF Scholarship and Home Team Scholarship Award Ceremony 2020 
The Home Team Scholarships are awarded annually to students who have excelled in their studies and co-curricular activities; displayed outstanding leadership qualities; and have a keen interest to pursue a career with the Home Team. 

The Home Team Scholarships comprise both uniformed and civilian scholarships, and include the Singapore Police Force Scholarship, the Singapore Merit Scholarship, the Singapore Government Scholarship, the Local Merit Scholarship and the Home Team Local Study Award. This year, the Ministry of Home Affairs awarded 14 Scholarships, and the recipients will pursue their studies in a range of disciplines at local and overseas universities. Congratulations to our Scholarship recipients for 2020.


This year's SPF Scholarship and Home Team Scholarship Award Ceremony was held via video conference on 20 August 2020. Read the address delivered by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, to the Scholarship recipients and their families.

Written by

Fazlee Rosli and Soo Jun Xiang


20 August 2020

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