Parliamentary Speeches

Addendum to the President’s Address 2023

Published: 13 April 2023

Mr K Shanmugam

Minister for Home Affairs

1.   The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and its Departments work as one Home Team to keep Singapore safe and secure. To fulfil our mission, we regularly update our laws, leverage technology extensively to enhance operational effectiveness, train and develop our officers for emerging challenges, and build partnerships with the public and international community. 

Safety and Security Situation 

2.   Singapore remains one of the safest countries in the world. In 2022, we were ranked first in Gallup’s Global Law and Order Report, for the seventh time since 2015.

3.   To continue keeping Singapore safe and secure, we need to address significant and emerging threats. First, terrorism continues to be a pressing and real threat. Second, criminal syndicates are making sophisticated use of technology to operate across national boundaries, resulting in notable increases in online scams and cybercrimes. Third, psychoactive substances and more liberal attitudes internationally towards drug use pose challenges to our efforts to keep Singapore drug-free. Furthermore, we must continue to safeguard Singapore’s social cohesion, in particular our racial and religious harmony, which has anchored our country’s peace and progress. 

Keeping our Laws Relevant 

4.   We will update our laws to deal with emerging threats. We have consolidated gambling-related legislation under the Gambling Control Act, and formed the new Gambling Regulatory Authority, to enable a more holistic and coherent approach to gambling regulation. We have amended the Misuse of Drugs Act to introduce a new legislative framework for psychoactive substances. 

5.   In the near term, we will introduce new legislation to better protect Singaporeans from online criminal activity, including scams and malicious cyber activity. We will strengthen the ability of our law enforcement agencies to deal with money mules who assist in the laundering of scam proceeds and to curb abuse of Singpass credentials to perpetrate scams. We will also introduce the Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act, to encourage moderation and tolerance among different racial groups, and to signal the overriding importance of racial harmony to Singapore.   

Leveraging Technology to Enhance Operational Effectiveness 

6.   The Home Team will continue to leverage technology such as data analytics, robotics, and unmanned systems to increase operational effectiveness, reduce operational risks, and enable Home Team officers to focus on higher value tasks. 

7.   The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority’s New Clearance Concept (NCC) automates passenger, conveyance, and cargo clearance. In the near future, all residents, long-term pass holders, and departing visitors will be able to clear immigration without needing to present their passport. NCC will leverage data analytics and artificial intelligence to enhance detection of anomalies and security sensitive items in conveyance and cargo clearance.

8.   The Singapore Police Force (SPF) is planning to expand camera coverage across Singapore and leverage video analytics to enhance sense-making. 

9.   The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is trialling a first-of-its-kind system – Prison Automated Screening System (PASS) – to automate urine sample collection and testing. This improves efficiency and accuracy, and also requires fewer officers for supervision.

10.   SPF and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) are already deploying unmanned systems in various operational settings. SPF uses robots to augment Police patrols and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for crowd management and search operations. SCDF has been enhancing its firefighting operations with its fleet of unmanned ground vehicles. We are also trialling UAVs which can be operated remotely from a central command and control centre. This way, SPF and SCDF commanders can receive visuals of the scene even before officers arrive, allowing them to better plan their response.

Training and Developing Our Officers to be Future-Ready 

11.   Advancements in technology will change the way the Home Team operates. To prepare our officers for evolving job roles, we will continue to invest heavily in their training, particularly in the area of digital technologies. The Home Team Academy will strengthen the Home Team’s training and learning ecosystem, such as by further developing and deploying systems for effective and realistic simulation training.

12.   Home Team officers deal with stressful situations as part of their work. We will continue to strengthen resilience and stress management, and foster a culture of support for the mental health and well-being of officers in the Home Team. 

Enhancing Partnerships

With the Public 

13.   The spread of radical ideology online has fuelled the self-radicalisation threat in Singapore, especially for susceptible young individuals. Public vigilance and preparedness through the SGSecure movement continues to be a key pillar of our defence. We will continue to engage neighbourhoods, workplaces, and schools to sensitise, train and mobilise our community to play a part to prevent and deal with any terrorist attacks. 

14.   A vigilant and discerning public is our best defence against scams. MHA has launched a new national anti-scam campaign to encourage the public to act against scams. We will launch a Scam Public Education Office to drive and expand our outreach and communication efforts.

15.   Our networks of volunteers and advocates are critical to amplifying the Home Team’s effectiveness. SCDF is enhancing the Community First Response framework through leveraging technology to improve response to cases via SCDF’s myResponder App, and will be installing fire extinguishers at HDB lift lobbies to equip the community to respond to minor fires. SPF has rolled out the Community Watch Scheme, which seeks to build an informed and vigilant community. The Central Narcotics Bureau, together with the National Council Against Drug Abuse, has broadened its community outreach through collaborations with various organisations and enhanced training for volunteers and advocates under the A3 (Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy) Network.

16.   SPS and Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) will better support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders by expanding collaborations with community partners to help ex-offenders through training and employment assistance. To enhance ex-offenders’ career prospects, YRSG has shifted from a training and job placement model to one that emphasises skills for long-term career development, through career coaching, partnerships with stakeholders, and enhanced access to career resources.

With the International Community

17.   Given the rising volume and complexity of transnational crimes and security threats, including scams and terrorism, it is imperative we work more closely with the international community. We will strengthen our bilateral relationships, and work constructively with and through multilateral organisations such as the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the United Nations. 

18.   With the support of Singaporeans, the Home Team will strive to keep Singapore a safe and secure home for all.