Published: 27 April 2022
Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. I am very happy to join you today to mark this occasion, and to give out the Home Team Sponsorship Awards for many of our recipients today.
2. We are finally able to gather together in person, after two long years, and what more importance than this occasion, and happy occasion, to celebrate the successes of 18 sponsorship award recipients who are a step closer now to realising their vision and their passion of keeping Singapore, our home safe and secure. My heartiest congratulations to all of you.
3. I also want to thank all parents and teachers for your hard work in guiding and supporting our award recipients. I am sure you are equally proud of their achievements and you have every right to be so.
The Home Team Has Done Well to Ensure the Safety and Security of Singapore
4. Today, we are not just giving out an award. You are about to join the ranks of the Home Team. And, the Home Team officers have been consistently delivering the mission to maintain the safety and security for Singapore.
(a) The Gallup Global Law and Order Index in 2020 ranked Singapore in the first place for seven consecutive years. In the same report, 97 per cent of Singaporeans surveyed “feel safe walking alone at night in their area” compared with the global average of 69 per cent.
(b) In the 2021 World Fire Statistics, Singapore has one of the lowest rates of fire fatalities in the world. This is even lower than many of the developed countries such as New Zealand, USA and Japan.
5. Our officers, domestically, have also maintained a high standard of service that has sustained public confidence and trust in the Home Team. In a survey that we conducted in 2021, over nine in ten respondents felt that the Home Team has performed well in keeping Singapore safe and secure.
6. Even throughout this pandemic, our Home Team officers continue to contribute towards the national response and the fight against Covid-19. SPF officers for instance, conducted ground patrols, they stepped up enforcement of public spaces and contact tracing. SCDF has conveyed over 10,000 COVID positive patients and over 23,000 suspected cases. ICA’s SafeTravel Office had to work with many agencies to adapt to various travel schemes and lanes, and to provide seamless immigration clearances, even as the borders open. Our CNB officers also supported the Ministry of Health to manage individuals on Quarantine and Isolation Order, and investigate offences under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations.
7. Even as we have done well in the past, and through this COVID-19 pandemic, we must, however, continue to raise our levels of competence as our operating environment continues to evolve and becomes more challenging. Let me give you some challenges that we are facing today, as a society, as a nation:
(a) While physical crimes have dropped, there has been a rise in the number of scam cases in Singapore, in tandem with the increase in the general population’s online activities and transactions.
(b) Drug abuse among youths remains high and this is exacerbated by a general, more liberal attitudes towards drug consumption that is happening all over the world.
(c) Meanwhile, terrorism remains a real threat. International terrorist movements continue to radicalise individuals around the world, mainly through online methods. Singapore, being a very connected city, is not spared from this.
Home Team Must Always Be Ready for Future Challenges
8. Therefore, it is important and critical that we continue to stay vigilant and be prepared to tackle the new forms of threats and challenges. Let me highlight some of the strategies and approach that we are adopting.
9. First, we must ensure that our policy frameworks and organising structures remain relevant to address these threats, and also remain effective at the same time. For example:
(a) We have set up multi-agencies, whole-of-government entities to coordinate efforts to deal with threats like terrorism and scams.
(b) We also review and update our regulations to ensure they remain effective in dealing with these new threats. For instance, we tightened our Guns, Explosives and Weapons laws to strengthen our levers to promote its safe handling to further minimise the risks that are posed by possession of these weapons. We will also be introducing a new framework to deal with and regulate New Psychoactive Substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
(c) Finally, in enforcement. This year, we will set up the Anti-Scam Command to coordinate SPF’s anti-scam strategies and investigation and intervention efforts for swift actions against scams. We will also continue to partner global security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to share information, conduct joint-operations, and also raise our capability.
10. Other than regulatory framework and structures, we must also continue to invest heavily in technology to enhance our capabilities:
(a) The SPF, for instance, has deployed cameras in public spaces that deter, detect and solve crimes. Artificial intelligence will be applied to enhance sensemaking of these footages.
(b) Robots and drones are deployed to augment SCDF’s fire-fighting capabilities.
(c) Facial and iris recognition technology is used in the Multi-Modal Biometric System at the checkpoints to facilitate safe and smooth immigration clearances.
(d) SPS also uses facial recognition technology to allow inmates at Selarang Park Complex to have unescorted access around the area within specific and secured zones. The smart cameras are equipped with video analytics to detect irregular behaviour and to ensure a safer environment for our inmates.
11. I am happy to hear that five of our award recipients today will be pursuing courses in the Science and Technology domain, and you will be able to apply and to contribute towards the Home Team’s technological transformation in time to come.
12. Other than regulatory framework and technology, we must also continue to strengthen our stakeholder engagement with various community partners. We have close collaboration with some of these partners including our Home Team volunteers, even our students from schools’ uniformed groups and I know that some of you have been members of our schools’ uniformed groups, community watch groups as well as first responders. These are important stakeholders and partners that we work closely as a whole of society and a whole of multi-pronged approach in achieving our mission and success to keep Singapore safe and secure.
A Strong Organisation with an Engaged and Skilled Workforce to Ensure Mission Success
13. At the core of our Home Team’s success is, and always, will be our people – our skilled and highly dedicated and highly committed workforce.
14. It is important that we continue to recruit individuals who possess the right values of integrity and courage, and who are committed to and passionate about safeguarding Singapore.
15. Several of our Award recipients were inspired to join the Home Team after learning about what we do through the various touchpoints and the experiences in their lives so far. Let me name a few of you:
(a) Pearlyn Chee Siew Peng, an SCDF Home Team Diploma (Study) recipient, witnessed the professionalism of the paramedics who provided pre-hospital care to her grandfather after he fell at home. The dedication of the paramedic team in tending to her grandfather, motivated her to join SCDF.
(b) Nurul Athirah Binte Abdullah, a recipient of the ITE Sponsorship awarded by SCDF, grew up listening to the exciting experiences of her father and sister who are both Police officers. Their recounts fuelled her passion to be part of the Home Team. Although she will be joining a different department, but still part of the Home Team.
(c) Kliffin Tan Jing Ning was encouraged by her father, who used to be a Police officer, to consider an SPF career. Today, she is awarded the SPF ITE Sponsorship.
(d) A’Aqil Zhafif Bin Syed Abdul Hafiz, an SPF Diploma Sponsorship recipient, was exposed since young to the Home Team’s work by his father, a Police officer. A’Aqil’s father would bring him to events such as the Home Team Festival, which gave him deep appreciation of the Home Team’s work. These experiences cemented, till today, his desire to serve our nation and finally he took a step. I just can’t help but notice that many of fathers and family members who are Police officers have had such a positive influence on the children, and now they are joining your footsteps, to secure Singapore.
(e) Lastly, Chong Wei Xian, the recipient of the ICA Diploma Sponsorship, was impressed by the positivity and professionalism of our ICA officers at the checkpoints, and therefore decided on an ICA career.
16. I’m sure many of you have your own stories. I can’t possibly name all your experiences with the Home Team that triggered your decision to join us, but suffice to say, I’m quite confident that every Singaporean and every resident of Singapore would have been impacted by the good work of the Home Team in one way or another through our lives.
17. Today’s award marks the start of your personal growth and development with the Home Team. In the Home Team, we place strong emphasis on continuous training, and we support our officers in their upskilling throughout their career. Our officers will be given opportunities to attend certifying courses to upgrade themselves through seminars and even Degree programmes at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.
18. Throughout your career, there will be different career pathways for specialisation and progression and exposure. These will be made available to ensure our officers have a meaningful career with the Home Team.
19. Let me conclude. I am very happy that our award recipients have chosen to join the Home Team. My heartiest congratulations to all of you. This is an important achievement in your academic journey, but more importantly, it is an even more significant milestone as you have chosen to pursue a noble and meaningful career upon your graduation.
20. I warmly welcome you, together with my Home Team colleagues to join the Home Team family and I wish every one of you, every success in your studies and in your career.
21. Thank you.