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Securing and Ushering in 2019: On Duty During the New Year
Meet two Police officers who were on duty to keep the festivities safe while we ushered in the New Year.

Work may be the last thing on everyone’s minds during the festive season, but on New Year’s Eve, more than 700 Police officers were deployed to ensure safe and secure celebrations at the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown.

We caught up with two officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) who were on duty that night.

Ushering into the New Year, and a New Role
When Inspector (INSP) Ngai Kuo En told her parents that she wanted to join the SPF’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), they were sceptical. An Investigation Officer at the time, she was due for an internal posting and was drawn to the ERT due to the tactical nature of the job.

“They knew it was coming and that I needed to transit into a new role. They were definitely sceptical at first. I’m the eldest and have two younger sisters, so I’m always the first one to try everything,” said the 29-year-old. “But they’re very supportive because they just want me to be happy.”

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INSP Ngai patrolling the Helix Bridge. Photo: Muhamad Khair

INSP Ngai completed her first New Year’s Eve deployment as an ERT officer at the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown. She’s been in the vocation for three months so far.

ERT officers are the first wave of responders during a terror attack and are specially trained to respond to public security incidents. Part of their job also includes working with stakeholders, such as building owners, to formulate joint response plans and beef up security measures, especially at critical locations.  

As a Team Leader, INSP Ngai also has the responsibility of taking charge of her team.
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INSP Ngai with her team. Photo: Muhamad Khair

When asked what goes through her mind while she’s on the job, she said: “Most of the time I’ll be thinking, ‘What if it’s the real thing? And if it’s the real thing, what am I supposed to do?’ I pray that that moment doesn’t come… But at the end of the day, we’re trained to handle crisis situations. There’s a risk, but I’m doing my part for Singapore.”

This year marks the third time that INSP Ngai has celebrated the New Year away from her loved ones. In fact, work gets busier with every festive season – a time when most people are free to meet up. 

“It’s harder for them to get a hold of me during the festive season. We usually arrange to meet before or after the festive periods, when I’m less busy,” she said. “I’m proud to be working alongside my colleagues, and other specialist units as well. It’s not every day that you get to be a part of such a big event!”

Gratitude Goes a Long Way
If he’s not on duty, Sergeant (SGT) Muhammad Firdaus would probably be celebrating the New Year with his family by watching the “live” broadcast of the countdown on television and try to catch a glimpse of the fireworks from home.

But SGT Firdaus hasn’t been able to do that for two years in a row – as part of SPF’s In-Situ Reaction Team (IRT), he has been involved in security arrangements during New Year Eve.
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SGT Firdaus on patrol. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

IRTs, which have been deployed for patrols since December 2017, are trained to deal with public security incidents. They conduct high-visibility patrols at locations with high footfall as part of heightened security measures, especially during festive periods.

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As a Column Leader, SGT Firdaus leads his team of Full-time National Servicemen. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Patrolling requires intense focus but, according to SGT Firdaus, also offered moments of recognition and thanks. “Members of the public will approach us to convey their gratitude. They know we’re away from our families and they understand that we have to do our jobs, especially because of the current security climate,” said the 28-year-old. “Even tourists have said ‘thank you’ – it really brightens up our patrols.”

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IRTs can often be found on patrol in locations with high human traffic. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Despite his absence, SGT Firdaus’s family understands his commitment to SPF; after all, it was his decision to sign on after his two-year stint with the Police during his National Service. 

“They see my passion as a Police officer, so they’re very supportive of me,” he said. “But I still have to assure them that I’m trained and prepared to deal with any incidents that arise.”
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 03 January 2019
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