Our Community
Women in Blue: An Inspiration to the Home Team
On the frontlines or behind the scenes, female officers are an essential part of the Home Team. This International Women’s Day, we speak to two women officers about how they keep Singapore safe and secure.

Having joined ICA in 2004, SUPT Kong has taken on a range of different appointments. PHOTO: Home Team News

An officer with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for 14 years, Superintendent (SUPT) Kong Yong Sin, 37, has done it all – from being on the ground at Tuas Checkpoint and handling media queries to heading the Identity Card (IC) Unit. The mother of three shares her experiences as a proud Home Team officer.

Tell us about yourself and the work that you do at the ICA.
In my 14 years of service with the ICA, I have had the privilege of performing different roles. Every portfolio played a part in moulding me into who I am today.

In 2004, I first went through a foundation posting at Tuas Checkpoint where I was a Duty Officer on the ground, and later, a Ground Operations officer, where I learnt hands-on about border security.

After that, I went to the Corporate Communications Division (CCD), where I worked on public relations and internal communications. My portfolio included media and stakeholder relations, preparing public response materials in times of crisis, and working on coverage with media outlets. During my five years with CCD, my most memorable assignment was working with MediaCorp on the ICA’s first drama series, Point of Entry. It was a star-studded experience, but the glitz and glamour was what viewers see on the surface. What went on behind the scenes was endless preparation – working out the storyline to ensure that cases were portrayed accurately, selecting officers for roles, coordinating scenes and overseeing the editing.

After CCD, I moved on to the Passports Unit of the Citizen Services Centre. Here, officers process applications, oversee the production and issuance of passports, and look into appeals cases. In 2013, the team launched the iCollect initiative which lets applicants collect their passports, Identity Cards (ICs) and Long Term Pass cards without being attended to by an officer.

Today, I head the IC Unit at the ICA. In January, the team launched the Optional NRIC Re-registration exercise with the Passports Unit. This allows for the combined processing and collection of ICs and passports at a single touchpoint.

How else is the ICA improving its processes as part of the Home Team Transformation 2025 initiative?
At the Citizen Services Centre, processes have been revamped to transform the way we serve customers. Where document collection used to take place at manned counters, it’s now possible to do so in an automated, self-serve manner. Through such initiatives, we’ve changed our processes to serve the public better. And in the future, we can expect more automation, better digital experiences and greater empowerment, for officers and the public.

Supt Kong and her family. PHOTO: ICA

Share an on-the-job experience that changed you as a person.
With every portfolio comes a different set of challenges that have pushed me to go beyond my limits.

There was a 15-year-old boy who’d lost his mother to cancer, and whose father later met with a fatal accident in the Philippines. As the boy’s passport had only five months of validity left, his family friend brought him in to apply for a new passport, to travel to the Philippines to bring his father’s body back to Singapore.

Unfortunately, the boy didn’t have a legal guardian to give consent to the application, and we were unable to accede to the request. This was one of the most emotional cases I’ve ever had to handle.

What we did was to work with the relevant authorities in the Philippines and Singapore, to seek their assistance for this case. Through such instances, I saw the importance of going beyond our scope of duty to help those in need.

How have things changed over the years in your time as an ICA officer?
With younger officers joining the workforce, it’s important to set aside time to listen to them and take in their ideas. It’s good for officers to feel a sense of belonging and ownership, in order to transform the organisation. When we’re earnest in hearing them out, they’ll be inspired and engaged to work harder, and come together to move ICA forward.

What advice do you have for younger Home Team officers?
In my years here, I’ve seen how every officer has a voice to be heard, through dialogues between senior management and ground officers. I always encourage younger officers to be bold and to stand up and speak about what’s important to them.

I’d also like to say:
  -  Take the time for self-reflection. It helps you learn from your mistakes.
  -  Trust others, but also verify things for yourself, objectively and independently.
  -  Be grateful always, because gratitude begets happiness in a virtuous cycle.

How do you balance your work as a Home Team officer with your family commitments?
It’s all about setting priorities. When I’m at work, that comes first; when I leave for home, I slide into the role of a daughter, wife and mother. It’s a daily routine for me and, I’m sure, a familiar one to many women. Without my family’s wholehearted support, I wouldn’t be who I am.

WO1 Tan joined the SCDF right after completing her polytechnic studies, and has been with the Force for 13 years. PHOTO: SCDF

WO1 Cynthia Tan, 35, had wanted to be a part of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) since she was 14 years old. She shares how she answered the call to become a Paramedic Specialist.

Tell us about yourself and the work that you do at the SCDF.
It all started when I signed up as a Civil Defence volunteer (now known as the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit). As a volunteer, I was able to go on ambulance attachments, respond to real emergency calls and assist the ambulance crew. Through that experience, I knew it was my calling to be a Paramedic Specialist.

For nine years, I was at the frontlines, responding to a myriad of medical emergencies. Today, I’m based at the SCDF Operations Centre, the first point of contact for members of the public who call the 995 hotline.

As a Paramedic Specialist, I make assessments about the nature of a medical emergency quickly and dispatch the appropriate resources to the incident. While waiting for the emergency resources to arrive, I also advise callers on what to do (such as starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation in cardiac arrest cases).

WO1 Tan is grateful for the support of her husband, parents and parents-in-law in caring for her children while she’s on duty. PHOTO: SCDF

How do you balance your work as a Home Team officer with your family commitments?
My family has given me their utmost support. I’m thankful to my husband, parents and parents-in-law in for caring for my two young children while I’m on duty. As I work on shifts, I make it a point to have quality time with my family whenever possible, especially on my off-days.

Share with us an on-the-job experience that changed you as a person.
As a Paramedic Specialist, I’ve attended to incidents ranging from medical emergencies to trauma cases. One moment I could be attending to a cardiac arrest; the next, a maternity case.

Being in this line has taught me that life is unpredictable, and we should treasure what we have. Don’t forget to appreciate the people around us, especially our family members and loved ones.

How do you feel about your experience with the SCDF so far?
Officers are given the opportunity to upgrade ourselves, and we’re constantly encouraged to share our opinions and ideas. I always tell myself that the only thing that can stop me from moving forward is myself, and that’s what I tell my fellow officers too. We should empower, inspire and support one another. At the end of the day, progression in the organisation is based on meritocracy, not gender.

How is the SCDF improving its processes as part of the Home Team Transformation 2025 initiative?
We have advanced technology and processes that value-add and enhance the Force’s capabilities in carrying out our core mission.

In April 2017, the SCDF launched the new Emergency Medical Service (EMS) response framework to optimise our resources in dealing with 995 calls. By 2025, we’ll be equipped with more advanced technology and approaches to meet the high demand for EMS.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Yuslina Aziz
  2. 08 March 2018
Back to top