Parliamentary Speeches

Addendum to the President’s Address 2020

Published: 27 August 2020

Mr K Shanmugam

Minister for Home Affairs

1. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) safeguards Singapore’s safety and security by maintaining a high level of operational excellence and readiness, building new capabilities to meet emerging and evolving threats, and leveraging both community and international partnerships. 


Overall Safety and Security Situation

2. There remain significant threats to our safety and security. Externally, the terrorism threat remains high. We continue to be at risk of foreign parties interfering in our domestic politics, as many countries have experienced in recent years. Technological advancements have also made it easier for criminals to operate across national boundaries, and are driving an increase in crimes such as online scams and unlicensed moneylending. The international drug situation continues to be of concern, with the emergence of new psychoactive substances, and more countries adopting a liberal stance towards drug use. Domestically, it remains imperative to ensure racial and religious harmony for the sake of our country’s peace and prosperity, given the make-up of our society.


Ongoing Fight against COVID-19

3. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MHA has been actively involved in the Whole-of-Government effort to contain the virus, deploying our officers and resources at the frontline, including at the borders and quarantine facilities. MHA will also continue to help coordinate the Government’s response to the pandemic through its chairmanship of the Homefront Crisis Executive Group (HCEG). The HCEG supports the Multi-Ministry Taskforce in planning and executing national policies and responses for COVID-19.


4. With the local community transmission situation stabilising, the Government is taking steps to gradually re-open our borders through various travel schemes with other countries. To support this, MHA has set up a Safe Travel Office (STO) under the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), to provide a single touch-point for all travellers, and also provide coordination across the many agencies involved in the various travel schemes. The STO will make for an easier and smoother traveller experience.


5. The Home Team Science & Technology Agency (HTX) will put its technological capabilities and scientific expertise to use in the fight against the virus. Currently, travellers at our land, air and sea borders are screened using HTX’s in-house designed test kit, with swab samples analysed at HTX’s laboratory. Travellers are able to obtain their results by the next day. In addition, technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), patrol robots, and remote sensors are being deployed for monitoring of key facilities to better detect crowding and ensure safe distancing.


6. As we gradually resume more activities, our police officers will continue to assist safe distancing ambassadors to ensure compliance with safe distancing measures and requirements, as well as to support the Ministry of Health (MOH) in contact tracing.


Strengthening the Home Team’s Capabilities

7. MHA will continue to enhance our capabilities to deal with emerging and evolving threats.


Strengthening Legislative Levers and Regulatory Regimes

8. We will strengthen our legislation and regulatory regimes. MHA will amend gambling-related legislations, and reconstitute the Casino Regulatory Authority to form the new Gambling Regulatory Authority, which will have an expanded mandate to regulate the entire gambling landscape in Singapore. We will review our drug laws to enhance deterrence and strengthen enforcement, including to deal with the rising threat of new psychoactive substances. We will enhance the fire safety regulatory regime and strengthen the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) investigative and enforcement powers against fire safety violations. We will consider the need for new legislation to better guard against foreign interference in our domestic politics, and counter hostile information campaigns mounted by foreign actors.


Leveraging Technology to Augment the Home Team’s Operations

9. We will leverage technology to build a stronger Home Team so that we can better protect Singaporeans. We will develop more digital forensics capabilities to tackle technology crimes. We will continue to build up our network of sensors, and use analytics to detect, deter, and solve crimes faster and more effectively. Robots and Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles (UAVs) will play a greater role in search-and-rescue, fire-fighting, and hazardous materials operations. We will make greater use of automation and video analytics to enhance safety and security in the prisons.


Enhancing Synergy in the Home Team and its Service Delivery

10. We continue to strengthen our collaboration and operational effectiveness as one Home Team. We will develop more joint operations plans and conduct more joint exercises. We will build more joint capabilities, including in the areas of command, control and communications, and logistics and other support functions. We will strengthen collaboration and deepen expertise across all parts of our Home Team. We are building a Home Team Operations Centre, which will be an integrated 24/7 coordination hub to manage and monitor Home Team operations more effectively.


11. We will enhance service delivery to the public with more convenient service touchpoints and platforms. For example, ICA will set up an Integrated Services Centre to offer one-stop services to the public, to achieve our ‘3N’ vision of “No Fuss, No Visit, and No Waiting”. Customers can expect efficient and fuss-free services, without having to make a trip to ICA for most transactions. We will also build up the capacity of SCDF’s Emergency Medical Services to deliver better emergency response outcomes while meeting growing demand.


Investing in our People

12. We will continue to invest in our people. We will equip Home Team officers with skills and knowledge to meet future challenges. We are leveraging simulation training with realistic scenarios for officers to develop competencies in a safe environment. The Ops-Tech career track will allow us to nurture uniformed officers grounded in operations and proficient in technology.


Partnering the Community for a Safe and Secure Singapore 

13. Terrorist and militant groups continue to be active, and ISIS’ propaganda remain widely available online and continue to have a radicalising influence. It is thus important that we build up our people’s resilience against the threat of terrorism. In this regard, we will deepen the community’s participation in our safety and security efforts through the SGSecure movement.


14. To better deal with the threat of scams, we recently set up the Inter-Ministry Committee on Scams, which will coordinate efforts across the Government to innovate and implement cross-cutting solutions. We will also partner the community, including stakeholders such as financial institutions, telecommunications companies, and internet platforms, to combat this growing problem.


15. The Central Narcotics Bureau will work with the community to sharpen preventive drug education efforts. The Singapore Prison Service and Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) will expand community correction efforts to better support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders. They will also step up collaboration with community partners to help ex-offenders through training and employment assistance. As part of YRSG’s recent rebranding, YRSG will be enhancing the career prospects of ex-offenders, by shifting from a training and job placement model to one that emphasises skills for long-term career development. 


Leveraging International Partnerships

16. Given the rising volume and complexity of transnational crime, it is important that the international community work more closely together. We will deepen our cooperation and partnerships with organisations such as INTERPOL, ASEAN and the UN, as well as bilaterally with partner countries.


17. Together with Singaporeans, the Home Team will continue to ensure that Singapore remains a safe and secure home for all of us.


Managing Security Threats