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The Home Team’s Science and Technology Guru
Get to know the visionary behind the expert scientific authority of the Ministry of Home Affair, whose office of Chief Science and Technology is strengthening the safety and security of Singapore.

Meet Dr Lee Fook Kay, the man who’s been upping the ante in the use of complex science and technology advances and capabilities an average Singaporean would unlikely be aware of. 

If any Singaporeans were, they would heartily thank him for putting it to use in Home Team departments’ safety and security measures for the past five years. The Chief of the Science and Technology Office of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Dr Lee is the force behind many such initiatives rolled out in recent years by many Home Team departments.
Recently promoted to grade MX 7 on the 23rd May 2011 at the Home Team Promotion Ceremony, the accomplished scientist was also awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2009. 
PHOTO: Charissa Tan

A major project that was implemented in 2009 was the Protective Analytical Facility (PAF) in Tuas Checkpoint.

 Equipped with bio-chemical labs to analyse and detect toxic chemical agents, bio-terrorism agents (like anthrax, plague, and tularaemia), radiological as well as primary and secondary explosives, the facility can analyze hazardous materials can be analysed within 30 minutes to an hour. “Couple that with the Hazmat tagging and tracking system, even if the vehicle has left the checkpoint, we can intercept it because we know exactly where it is,” said the scientist who set up the facility from scratch within a year.

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the facility played a critical role detecting flu viruses that crosses the border in a very timely fashion using the environmental and molecular biology technologies in the bio-chemical labs.

Before joining MHA, Dr Lee worked in Ministry of Defence (Mindef) for 17 years.
He helped the ministry built up the chemical biological radiological explosive (CBRE) programme, of which the time spent had cultivated a love for science and technology.
Dr Lee was Mindef’s Director of CBRE Research, and Deputy Director of the Defence Medical & Environmental Institute at Mindef.

While peers of the 51-year-old would prefer slowing down at the apex of their career, Dr Lee clearly prefers to go full steam ahead. “I was managing Research and Development (R & D) projects at Mindef, which took about 3-5 years to complete each project. But the Home Team faces security threats every day and that challenges me to source for the best science and technology in the market and fine-tune the technology, so that it can be used by the Home Team as quickly as possible,” he said.

This is a man who is so sold on science and technology he spends any free time he has reading relevant scientific journals, lamenting that “it’s a good thing these days that journals are readily available online.”

His only other indulgence is collecting antiques, especially old watches of antiquated brands, an interest which his late father groomed in him.

Dr Lee and his team have actively engaged the United States Department of Homeland Security, the British Police and the United Kingdom Home Office, and the Australian Science and Technology Organisation. “These collaborations are good, because we get to benchmark ourselves,” said Dr Lee. “Though we don’t have examinations to peg us at a standard, but each time we work with our collaborators, we exchange views and know that we are at that level internationally.”

One of the newest projects that Dr Lee’s office is spearheading with the Singapore Police Force is the development of Home Team’s forensics lab. “We are in the midst of building the physical capabilities, having completed the concept and design. That will take some time, especially the training and procurement,” said Dr Lee, who targets the lab to be ready by the end of 2012. 
Another milestone project would be the development of a mega-Protective Analytical and Analysis Facility (PAAF) at ICA’s Ports Command, the theme to detect Security Sensitive Materials like CBRE materials and nuclear waste. When probed further about future projects, the scientist went tight-lipped, just like a veteran general before his next leg of battle.
But without a doubt, the visionary was clear about his game plan. “I just want to continue to transform the S &T universe of the Home Team… to enhance the professional capabilities and strength of the Home Team departments to achieve our shared mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure,” he said.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Charissa Tan
  2. 15 June 2011
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