Press Releases

75 Years of Keeping Singapore Safe, Secure and Sovereign

Published: 25 October 2023

1. The Internal Security Department (ISD) commemorated its 75th anniversary on 23 August 2023.  On Tuesday, 24 October, ISD held a closed-door dinner with past and present ISD officers at The Ritz Carlton, Millenia Singapore.  Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong was the Guest-of-Honour.  Mr Teo Chee Hean, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law and other distinguished guests were also in attendance.  

Speech by PM Lee at ISD’s 75th Anniversary Dinner

2. PM Lee spoke at length about ISD’s role in safeguarding Singapore’s internal security.  As a small, open and multiracial nation, Singapore has always been inherently vulnerable to both external and internal threats.  From the uncertain post-World War II years to the present day, it was not by sheer happenstance that Singapore has succeeded in mitigating threats to domestic security and sovereignty. PM Lee said ISD has been the steady force – often operating in the shadows, away from the limelight, but ever-present and ready to respond to keep Singapore safe and sovereign for all Singaporeans. 

Message from Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam

3. A message to ISD officers from Minister K Shanmugam is appended below.  

 Message By Minister For Home Affairs And Minister For Law K Shanmugam to ISD

The story of Singapore’s progress, from Third World to First, is well-known.  But our prosperity, and the internal stability and sovereignty that we enjoy today, did not come about by chance.  The bedrock of Singapore’s success has always been domestic stability and security.  And what is less well-known, are the many threats that could have torn us apart during this journey: communist violence and subversion, racial and religious extremism, terrorism, and foreign subversion – to name a few.

The Internal Security Department (ISD) has played a key role in keeping Singapore secure and stable, even before Singapore gained independence.  It was established as the Singapore Special Branch on 23 August 1948, shortly after a state of Emergency was declared.  Over the past 75 years, ISD has dealt with a wide range of threats to Singapore’s internal security, stability and sovereignty.  Its work helped provide the foundations of the peace and stability, which enabled Singapore to focus on nation-building. 

Today, the traditional threats of terrorism, subversion, extremism and espionage continue.  New threats will also continue to arise in the future, in tandem with the changing external environment and our domestic vulnerabilities.  ISD will continue to discharge its mission to protect the internal security of our nation, from threats both internal and external, and it will do so with its partners from the Home Team, the community, and across Singapore.  

The Department has grown its public engagement efforts in recent years, and it will continue to find ways to engage and foster trust and support with the community. 

Generations of ISD officers have worked tirelessly, behind the scenes, out of the public eye, in service of this mission.  Thank you to all officers, past and present, for a job well done, and for your unwavering dedication to Singapore. 

ISD has been, and will continue to be, a vital and trusted institution that Singapore can rely on, to preserve and safeguard our cohesion and security.  

Congratulations to ISD on its 75th anniversary.

Doing Our Part for Society

4. ISD also exercises corporate social responsibility. Through a series of internal fundraising events to commemorate our 75th Anniversary, our officers donated a total of $275,000 to the President’s Challenge to support various charitable causes in Singapore. 

75 Years and Beyond: Steadfast in Service for a Safe, Secure and Sovereign Singapore 

5. ISD officers are our organisation’s greatest asset and ISD’s success would not have been possible without the determined efforts of our officers.  Today’s cohort of ISD officers demonstrates the same passion, commitment and unwavering dedication when confronting internal security threats in an evolving operating terrain.  Together as an organisation, we strive to improve ourselves and enhance our capabilities.     

6. ISD has embarked on numerous initiatives to transform its work, workforce and workplace – developing new and cutting-edge capabilities, investing in career development and training for officers, and transforming work spaces to meet the current and future needs of our officers.  To this end, we also remain on the lookout for the best and brightest minds who wish to join the cadre of dedicated ISD officers in our special mission.

7. ISD’s organisational structure and its work are necessarily veiled in secrecy for operational security reasons.  However, ISD will continue to find ways to communicate who we are, what we do and what we stand for.  On our 75th anniversary, ISD appreciates and seeks the continued trust, support and partnership from Singaporeans in carrying out our mission and securing Singapore for the future.