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When Love Starts at Home
This Valentine’s Day, we speak to two couples who found love as Home Team officers, and learn how they balance their family commitments with their shared duty as Home Team officers.

ICA Valentine Couple 02
PHOTO: Jamie Ang

Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Cherrie Peng, 27, first met her husband ASP Poh Yueh Loong, 29, when they were assigned to work in the same team at Woodlands Checkpoint in 2014.

Four years on, ASP Yueh Loong is a Team Leader at the Integrated Checkpoints Command (Air) at Changi Airport and ASP Cherrie is a Senior Operations Planning Executive in the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) Operations Division.

Home Team News sat down with the newly-wed couple – who were married in September 2017 – to hear how they went from fellow officers to husband and wife.

How and when did you first meet?
Yueh Loong: We first met in 2014 when we were both posted to Woodlands Checkpoint as checkpoint officers. It was our first posting and since we were on the same team, we worked very closely together, and were often on the same shift.

Cherrie: He was on the ground for the full term that he was at Woodlands Checkpoint. I was on frontline duty for about six months, and during this period, we worked in the same zone.

How did your relationship develop?
Cherrie: I observed how he worked and began to notice and appreciate how meticulous, steady and calm he is. He never got worked up during stressful situations and was always cool and collected. Whenever I was with him, I felt reassured and confident.

Yueh Loong: Our relationship progressed very naturally from platonic to romantic. We started dating towards the end of 2014. I started buying her food that she enjoys, like mixed rice from the Woodlands Checkpoint cafeteria.

Cherrie: What helped us grow closer was the fact that we both stay in western Singapore, so we’d take the same bus home from Woodlands Checkpoint. This gave us plenty of time to talk and get to know each other better.

What changed after you were posted to different workplaces in 2017?
Cherrie: After I was posted to ICA Headquarters and he was posted to Changi Airport, we had to work around our different schedules, like any other couple. We understand the difficulties and stresses of the job, and when either of us have to work overtime, we understand. We also prioritise our free time and we make it a point to have dinner together.

ICA Valentine Couple 01
The couple have been together since 2014, and were married in 2017. PHOTO: Jamie Ang

How does the mission of the Home Team resonate with you as a couple?
We’re in different postings; Yueh Loong’s on the frontlines and I’m in HQ as a Senior Operations Planning Executive. Together, we have our own ways of contributing to the Home Team mission of safeguarding Singapore. He’s part of larger team that helps to keep threats at bay, and I do contingency planning to make sure that our officers are ready in times of need to handle any threats.

How do you usually spend time together?
Yueh Loong: We watch movies together and go out to eat quite often. This year, we’re preparing to celebrate our first Chinese New Year as a married couple. Giving out red packets is a new experience for us, and we’re happy to do it!

SPF Valentine Couple 03
A meeting of minds, hearts and values – Jingyi and Patrick have been married for 15 years. PHOTO: Home Team News

For Patrick Pang, 35, and Gong Jingyi, 34, a shared commitment to strong values has been essential to their work and family life. As officers in the Singapore Police Force (SPF), they know what each is going through, and strive to offer support and understanding when challenges arise.

How did the two of you first meet?
Patrick: We met in 2003, at Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood Police Centre. I was a newly posted patrol officer, and Jingyi was a trainee who was attached to my team.

Jingyi: It was a three-day attachment, and at the end of it, he asked for my number. We were married nine months later. Our colleagues were very surprised!

Patrick: It was a very fast process. But if you know the person is right for you, why wait?

What roles have you served in the SPF?
Patrick: I did patrolling and served as an Assistant Operations Officer before moving on to the International Relations portfolio. I’m currently a Team Leader in the Public Communications Division of the Public Affairs Department.

Jingyi: I was at Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre for about eight years before going to the Service Quality Branch for three years. Then I moved on to the Support and Technical Branch to do procurement and logistics for major events like F1 and the Chingay parade. Right now I’m a Court Officer with the Family Justice Courts.

Do you worry about each other when you’re on the job?
Patrick: I did worry when Jingyi did patrols, because they can be unpredictable.

Jingyi: I don’t worry about Patrick’s safety, but do think about his health because some of the events we work on are prolonged, and follow one after another. So I’m concerned that he may not be able to eat or rest well.

How do you support each other in your work as Police officers?
Patrick: We send text messages to each other, but understand that when either of us is very busy, we won’t reply. Often we can’t take calls at all, because of where we’re stationed. We may not always be able to share the details of our work with each other, but we can give a sense of how we are, and be thoughtful. It helps that we have understanding bosses too.

Jingyi: You need communication. One of us will also try to be at home with our kids, and whoever comes home earlier will check on their homework first.

Tell us about your family.
Jingyi: We have two boys aged 12 and eight, and a girl, nine. We learnt that they told their classmates that we were both Police officers. They’re very curious about what we do and how things work. It gets them excited. Once in a while, they’ll tell us they want to become Police officers too.

What are the Home Team values that are important to you, and which you share with your children?
Jingyi: Integrity.

Patrick: That’s right. It’s about doing the right thing and admitting if you’ve made a mistake. We’ve told this to our children many times; you could say that we’ve brought our work into our home. Our kids are used to it; they know I have to bring my laptop everywhere I go, and that we have to respond to calls even on Saturday and Sunday.

They ask us why we have to work late at night, and our answer is that it’s our job – we’re working to keep Singapore safe. Two years ago, Jingyi was deployed during the 2016 Marina Bay Countdown. I was watching the event on TV at home with our daughter and mentioned to her that the people there were able to celebrate because officers like her mother were there, patrolling.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Patrick: We don’t, really. But our daughter’s birthday is one day after Valentine’s, and that we celebrate for sure!
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Jaiesh Sachi
  2. 14 February 2018
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