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From Father to Son: Lessons in Duty and Service
With two sons who are also officers working at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, Senior Checkpoint Inspector 2 Abdul Hamed inspires both at home and work.

Senior Checkpoints Inspector 2 (SCI2) Abdul Hamed still keeps his first pay check from when he  started working at the Immigrations Department in 1981, now known as the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). $295 might seem little, but it was enough for the young officer. 

Ultimately, it was curiosity that drove SCI2 Hamed’s interest in the work of an Immigration Officer, which he believed was more than just “chopping passports”.

More Than Half a Lifetime with ICA
“I just wanted to give it a try, and now I’ve been with ICA for almost 40 years,” he jests. 

Altogether, he’s gone through six different postings in his 37 years in service, including positions in all three of ICA’s domains – land, air and sea. Currently, the 57-year-old plays a supervisory role at ICA’s Airport Command in Changi. As a Deputy Team Leader, his duties include managing his team's deployment schedule and handling referrals from primary screening officers stationed at ICA counters.

But SCI2 Hamed’s notable track record doesn’t end there. The highlight of his career came in 2004 when he was seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Visa Management Officer. For two years, he did immigration-related work for ICA at Singapore’s Consulate-General in Chennai, India. 

SCI2 Hamed has served as an ICA officer for almost 40 years. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

“I had to take the opportunity because being able to represent your country like that is rare. I had a Singapore flag on my desk all the time to remind myself that I had to maintain our standards,” he said. 

“You’re working in a country where the culture is very different from Singapore. So I always reminded myself that I was representing my country and my Department.”

The Commander of the House
When it comes to fatherhood, SCI2 Hamed describes himself as a “strict disciplinarian” who made sure that his two sons stayed out of trouble and didn’t mix with bad company as children.

But there’s a difference between being strict and being authoritarian, and for SCI2 Hamed, no decision is too small to discuss with his family. From minor things like choosing a new shade of paint for the flat to buying big-ticket items such as a car, he makes it a point to consult with his family so that no one feels left out.

“My father is an amazing dad – he’s a disciplinarian without actually needing to discipline,” says elder son Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Zainal Abidin. “He inculcates discipline, doesn’t use force. I always remember how he’d come to my room late at night, to explain why he scolded me and my brother.”

SSgt Zainal, 31, has been in the service for almost eight years, and has recently completed a Degree in Psychology, sponsored by the Ministry of Home Affairs. His younger brother has only been in the organisation for about 1.5 years. 

“I’m still new to the service and I do have a lot more to learn. If I need advice, the first person I’d go to is to my brother,” said the Sergeant 2 (Sgt 2) Zainul Arifin, 27. “But if I do need higher-level advice, I approach my father. You only seek the 'high judge' when the matter is serious!” 

A family in blue, keeping Singapore’s borders safe in their capacity as ICA officers. From left: Ssgt Zainal, SCI2 Hamed and Sgt2 Zainul. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

A Dedicated Officer who’s an Even More Dedicated Father and Grandfather
Known affectionately as “Abah” (meaning “Father” in Malay), SCI2 Hamed cares deeply for them despite his stern façade.

“At night, when they were very young, they’d sleep on my lap. It’s all about the personal touch,” says SCI2 Hamed, explaining that it was his way of bonding and showing affection. “I’ve seen how children can be distant if you leave them with their friends. They end up sharing more with their friends than their parents.” 

This approach has borne fruit; whether it’s a personal problem or work-related matter, SCI2 Hamed and his children share an unbreakable bond. He adds, “Even now, these grown-up boys still lie on my lap.”

Early lessons in responsibility: As an 8-year-old, SSgt Zainal (left) would be tasked with looking after the house while his father was away at work, a duty which included “taking care” of the living room carpet as his cousins had a tendency of making a mess. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

His softer side also comes out when he is the plays grandfather to his four-year-old granddaughter, SSgt Zainal’s daughter, whom he unapologetically spoils with candy and chocolate, something that he didn’t do with his two sons while they were growing up.

“As a young father, my life wasn’t as comfortable as it is right now,” he said, relating how Sgt2 Zainul would get hand-me-downs from his elder sibling. “But not for my granddaughter! She can walk into the supermarket and I’ll get her whatever she wants. I’ll never say no to her.”
The family celebrating Ssgt Zainal's birthday in May this year. PHOTO: Zainal Abidin

Father’s Day: Spending Quality Time with the Family
For SCI2 Hamed, it’s the little things that matter most, and Father’s Day is usually a simple but wholesome affair. The family will usually go bowling and have a meal together at their favourite Indian restaurant; it reminds SCI2 Hamed of his childhood days growing up in Little India. 

But this year will be a little different – with Hari Raya and Father’s Day falling on the same weekend this year, SCI2 Hamed has plans to cook a special dish for his family. It will also be a time to pay respects to his late wife, who passed away two years ago.
“I intend to celebrate Father’s Day with a small prayer at home, and then pay an early visit to the cemetery,” he said, getting visibly emotional as he talks about her. “I wouldn’t have been a good father without her support.”

“In the evening, I plan to cook my very own lontong recipe for my family - it’s a very special moment, especially when all of them will receive green packets for Hari Raya!”
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 14 June 2018
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