Published: 11 August 2017
Chairman PSC, PSC members,
Scholarship recipients and families,
Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good evening to all of you. First, let me congratulate the 19 young men and women who are receiving their scholarships today. We thank their principals, teachers and their families, including their parents who have guided them and supported them.
SAFE AND SECURE BECAUSE OF THE HOME TEAM
2. We have the tagline "safe and secure Singapore" and Singapore is safe and secure because of the Home Team. We have repeatedly been ranked, both in terms of the actual crime statistics, and the way we feel about Singapore's security, as one of the safest places in the world. Our recent public perception survey, which I disclosed in Parliament, showed that over 90% of Singaporeans feel safe walking in their neighbourhoods and have confidence in the Home Team. A simple yardstick is that most of us will feel safe sending our 10-year-old on the public transport in Singapore, when we won't dare do that in most places, such as in Western Europe or the US.
3. We are there partly because of our legal framework, corruption-free environment, and backed up by enforcement of our laws through the rule of law court system, and a top grade enforcement system of which the Police, SCDF, CNB, SPS are at the sharp-end of the process.
4. Our officers put their lives on the line. I know the parents may not like to hear that, but you can be sure that we take a zero tolerance approach towards any attack on our men and women in uniform. People have very high regard and respect for our officers. Our officers do real, meaningful work that makes a difference. So the young scholars here are joining a team of highly professional and dedicated men and women.
CHALLENGES FACING THE HOME TEAM
5. Now if you look at our operating environment, the Home Team's work will be more complex and more difficult because global trends are complicating our operating environment. One example, the terror attacks that are taking place all around the world, including our neighbourhood. The internet has made it easier to commit cybercrimes. And drug consumption, you have a much more liberal attitude in many parts of the world. It is really a failure of governance because you look at lawyers, they ask for more liberal approaches in how the laws are imposed, even on drug traffickers. If you look at pharmaceutical companies, they are pushing for more liberal views of opioids. If you look at societies as a whole, they look very much at the guys who are caught and perhaps on the death row, but they don't look at the thousands of people who suffer as a result of drugs. So you have President Trump, now declaring an opioid crisis. They have 30,000 to 50,000 deaths a year, just on opioids, and hundreds of thousands hooked onto drugs. These are the hard truths, the real cost to society. But they are pushing their values on the rest, including us, but we are drawing a clear bright line in saying no.
6. Within Singapore, we have our own challenges, such as manpower constraints caused by a declining birth rate. We are already a very lean outfit in the Home Team, and we will have to do more in the future, with technology and less manpower resources.
HOME TEAM TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY
7. So we started a transformation journey to transform the way the Home Team will work, to stay ahead of these challenges. We are increasing substantially the use of technology, to better combat crime, secure our borders and save lives. For example, we are building a common communications systems across the Home Team, operationalising cutting-edge video analytics tools, using unmanned air, land and sea vessels in our operations and progressively introducing multi-modal biometric screening at our checkpoints.
8. So by the time the young people here come out of universities, we would have been well on the way towards integrating some of these, and moving along in trying to put this in place. And we will integrate our entire Home Team operations across the different Home Team departments. There will be a single Home Team Operations Centre. We've started work on that. When completed, this Operations Centre will pull together feeds from an island-wide network of cameras and sensors, and will provide the Home Team will stronger command and control ability. It will give us a very comprehensive situation picture across Singapore, and enable us to effectively coordinate actions. So, we will have sharper detection and situational awareness, improved analytical ability, stronger operational capabilities, and a quantum leap towards keeping Singapore safe and secure.
9. As we move towards new operating models, we will have to invest substantial resources to train, reskill and upskill our officers. These are challenging, but also exciting times. Upon your graduation, you will play a substantial part in this journey, moving us to where we want to be, to meet future challenges. So we are going to need very bright, dedicated young people who are willing to put their heart and soul into transforming this organisation, building your Home Team of the future.
LEADERSHIP IS KEY TO HT TRANSFORMATION
10. Our plans may sound exciting, but what is key is our leadership, our people. Strong leadership is essential for this transformation, so we are investing heavily in developing our leaders at all levels. We set up a Home Team Centre for Leadership in July last year to put in place high quality leadership development programmes. This is for junior supervisors, all the way to the top leadership ranks.
11. Last month, we introduced a new Home Team Leaders-in-Development Programme. We want to identify young talented people early on, groom them, develop them to lead the Home Team. And we want to recruit the best and brightest, and train them well. So among them are the recipients today. If you look at the Singapore Police Force Scholarship (SPFS), it is awarded by the Public Service Commission to outstanding young Singaporeans with strong leadership potential and a passion for serving in the Police Force. I congratulate Gabriel Tan, recipient of the SPFS. He will be studying law at Cambridge.
12. We introduced two new scholarships this year. These scholarships are to lead our future technology development efforts, which is at the core of our transformation. We have four recipients of the Home Team Science and Technology Scholarship – Goh Xian Fong, Li Jiawang and Samuel Sim, who will be studying in the United Kingdom, and Liang Shi Yi who will be going either to the United Kingdom or United States. They will join the Police Force after their studies. We also launched the ICA Scholarships, for ICA to develop their own leaders as well. This year, Aloysius Thum will receive the ICA Local Merit Scholarship, and study Public Policy and Global Affairs at NTU.
13. Nine other scholarship recipients will join the Police Force. Lin Mingxuan and Sean Saw will receive the Singapore Government Scholarship and study in the United Kingdom. Seven others are recipients of the SPF Local Merit Scholarship. They are Joelle Chua, John Kok, Yong Chang Jun, Rachel Lim, Zhu Jiahua, Ong Li Ying and Lee Kai Yang.
14. Two award recipients, Grace Liew and Jeremy Ang, will serve with the SCDF after graduation. Two Local Merit Scholarship recipients, Muhammad Fairuz and Jolene Ngo, will join the Central Narcotics Bureau and the Singapore Prisons Service respectively. All the scholars will study a range of academic disciplines, from engineering, law, psychology, chemistry, biotechnology and so on.
CONGRATULATIONS TO NEW SCHOLARS
15. So we welcome our new scholars. We hope they will have an exciting and interesting career which fulfils their passion and purpose. We expect the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and personal conduct from our scholars, and indeed from all our officers.
16. Work hard, study hard, and participate actively in your school community. When you return, I hope you find your work purposeful, meaningful and fulfilling. I congratulate each one of you, and your parents. Thank you.