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More Than Just Helping You Say “I Do”
Singapore’s Justices of the Peace don’t only solemnise weddings; many are also avid volunteers with the Home Team and its partners.

Most of us are only familiar with Justices of the Peace (JPs) in their capacity as wedding solemnisers appointed by the Registry of Marriages, but these distinguished Singaporeans do so much more; many are also passionate about making a difference with the Home Team and its partners.

3 May 2018 JP Appointment with President Halimah at Istana
86 Justices of the Peace were appointed by President Halimah Yacob on 24 April 2018. PHOTO: Aizil A Rahim

Take Mr Chia Ngiang Hong for instance. Now in his third term and 10th year of service as a JP, Mr Chia is also a member of the Board of Visiting Justices & Board of Inspection with the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), as well as Vice Chairman of a Home Detention Advisory Committee. 

As a Visiting Justice with the SPS, Mr Chia visits prisons to look into the welfare and general well-bring of inmates. “We talk to them, find out their problems and if they need our help,” said Mr Chia. “We then raise these issues with the prison authorities, who’ll look into them and try to facilitate our queries.”

According to Mr Chia, such sessions serve a larger purpose as well. “These visits are very meaningful because we don’t just help the prisoners, we also help their families,” he said. “If a family has been financially or emotionally affected by the incarceration of loved one, we try our best to bring this to the attention of the SPS, so that they can contact the relevant parties for assistance.”

3 May 2018 JP Appointment at Istana Mr Chia Ngiang Hong
Mr Chia has served as a Visiting Justice as well as a Registrar of Marriage for the past 10 years. PHOTO: Aizil A Rahim

As a member of a residential grassroots committee, Mr Chia is also keen on establishing support groups for families of inmates. This includes deploying trained personnel to counsel or support families, especially those with young children. “I once met an inmate whose wife and children were holding long-term visit visas,” recalled Mr Chia. “He was worried that his family would be asked to leave the country, as his wife is a foreigner. We linked the family up with a family support centre, and made sure their family life outside wasn’t disrupted.” 

In his professional life, Mr Chia is the Group General Manager of City Developments Ltd. What drives him to volunteer with the Home Team is a passion to improve the lives of Singaporeans. “You’ll see a lot of results, as you help other people,” he said. “You witness their joy and appreciation as you do something meaningful for the community. That pushes me to continue volunteering.” 

Enriching the Lives of Recovering Addicts

This commitment to making a difference drives Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta as well. She serves as a Vice-President of the Management Board for the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA), and has received her second re-appointment as a JP. 

3 May 2018 Dr Kalyani with Husband at Istana during JP Appointment
Dr Kalyani, seen here with her husband, is one of 35 women JPs. PHOTO: Aizil A Rahim

Dr Kalyani is Head of Gerontology Programmes at the School of Human Development & Social Services at the Singapore University of Social Sciences. She joined the SANA’s Management Board five years ago, and was appointed Vice-President in June 2017. “It’s very meaningful work because I’m interested in the lives of the recovering addicts,” she explained. “It’s about ensuring that those who wish to turn over a new leaf have the chance to do so, and that society will give them a second chance.” 

According to Dr Kalyani, family support is crucial in helping former addicts stay on the right path. “It’s very important that family members, especially spouses and children, have the heart to forgive someone who has made a mistake,” she said. “Unless they are accepted, it’s very hard for addicts to recover from their mistakes.”

Equally important to Dr Kalyani is working with families of former addicts to stop the next generation from making the same mistakes, and to break the cycle of drug addiction. “Any intervention that breaks this vicious cycle gives the whole family the chance to make a new life.”

Dr Kalyani recalled a recent Deepavali gathering with SANA volunteers and families of ex-offenders. The family members shared about the struggles they faced. “Finances were a challenge; making ends meet and paying school fees, for example,” she said. “So we work with many organisations on the ground to help the families receive the necessary means.”

Keeping an eye on tomorrow, Dr Kalyani is also eager to help youths realise a brighter future for themselves. “When we work with families, we need to see things from their perspective and help the children understand that having dreams is important,” she said. “They can dream big because Singapore is a land of opportunity.”
3 MAY JP Appointment Grp Shot

The 86 JPs are appointed for a term of five years commencing 24 April 2018. PHOTO: Aizil A Rahim

Justices of the Peace

Mr Chia Ngiang Hong and Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta were among 86 JPs who were re-appointed by President Halimah Yacob on 24 April 2018; there are now 185 JPs. 

JPs are outstanding Singaporeans who have made significant contributions in their professions, the public service, social services and the community at large. As JPs, they serve as Visiting Justices of our prisons, Volunteer Court Mediators in the State Courts, or marriage solemnisers appointed through the Registry of Marriages. They may also perform the duties of the Magistrate conferred on them by any written law. JPs are appointed by the President under Section 11 of the State Courts Act. 



© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 03 May 2018
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