Published: 28 April 2023
Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to be here for this year’s Home Team Sponsorship Award Ceremony. My heartiest congratulations to all our sponsorship award recipients.
A Trusted and Capable Home Team
2. You are a step closer to joining the Home Team, which plays a direct role in ensuring the safety and security of fellow Singaporeans. Since 2015, Singapore has been ranked first in Gallup’s Global Law and Order Report, except for 2021 when the survey was not conducted due to the pandemic. In the 2022 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, Singapore was ranked one of the top three countries in “order and security”, for the sixth time in a row.
3. We are also highly trusted by the public. Over the past three years, over 9 in 10 respondents to the Home Team Perception Survey have said the Home Team has performed well in keeping Singapore safe and secure.
4. We continue to be mission focused, operationally and future ready, and united as one. In November last year, over 200 personnel from ICA, SPF, SCDF and the Ministry Headquarters took part in a multi-agency ground deployment exercise, codenamed “Genesis”. The exercise was held at Tuas Checkpoint to validate ICA’s response plans in the event of a security incident as borders re-opened following the global pandemic. Just last month, the Home Team, together with other government agencies, conducted the 11th edition of Exercise Northstar to validate Singapore’s multi-agency response to a crisis, with a simulated terrorist attack on Jurong Island.
5. Home Team officers are dedicated professionals who rise to the call of duty. SPF has robustly stepped up enforcement against scams. In 2022, 25 island-wide anti-scam operations were conducted, netting over 8,000 money mules and scammers. The SPF also worked with its foreign counterparts to dismantle 13 transnational scam syndicates. We continue to work closely with public and private sector partners, including financial institutions, in the upstream detection and restriction of banking facilities for money mules and to interrupt the flow of criminal proceeds. In 2022, the SPF froze over 16,700 bank accounts and recovered over $146 million.
6. The ICA safeguards Singapore’s borders through its detection and prevention of movement of illegal and dangerous goods. In Jan 2023, on the third day of the Chinese New Year, ICA foiled an attempt to smuggle more than 1,400 e-vaporisers into Singapore.
7. The Home Team’s dedication and professionalism were also demonstrated in our relief support efforts in Türkiye, in the immediate aftermath of the massive earthquake earlier this year. Our SCDF rescue team under Operation Lionheart, comprising 68 officers and 4 dogs from the K-9 unit, bravely worked around the clock to assist in the rescue efforts.
Challenges Faced by Home Team
8. We must, however, continue to prepare ourselves for future challenges. Singapore is a small, highly interconnected country sitting at the crossroads of the world. Our operating environment is a dynamic one, with security challenges continuously evolving.
9. Cybercrimes and scams remain persistent, and will continue to be for many years to come, as perpetrators keep changing their modus operandi. A higher proportion of our youths also have a more liberal mindset towards drugs as international interest groups advocate for the liberalisation of drug policies and regional countries adopt a more permissive position on cannabis. International terrorism and radicalisation continue to pose a serious security threat, with terrorists and radical ideologues exploiting technology, like social media and gaming platforms.
Operationally Ready and Prepared for Future Challenges
10. To remain effective in fulfilling our mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure, we need to forge on with the following efforts: Leverage Technology; Forge Close Partnerships with the Community and Stakeholders; and Strengthen the Home Team’s Culture and People. Kindly allow me to go through these points in greater detail.
11. First, on using technology, the Home Team must continue to invest in technology, to augment our capabilities, and enhance and strengthen our operational effectiveness and productivity. Under ICA’s New Clearance Concept, we are further automating our clearance processes by leveraging data analytics and technologies such as biometrics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). From 2024, residents and departing foreign visitors can look forward to contactless clearance without producing their passports as they can be identified by their biometrics, which reduces overall clearance time by 40%. ICA is also working to introduce automated clearance for car travellers, and leveraging AI to enhance detection of prohibited and contraband items.
12. We are also enhancing our Emergency Response through video technology. Last month, SPF and SCDF jointly introduced the Emergency Video System where our Operations Centres can initiate live video streaming and real-time location sharing from the caller’s mobile phone. This aids our officers in their situational assessment and decision-making.
13. The Home Team has also invested in new technologies to augment our capabilities. CNB’s automated exhibit management system has enhanced our officers’ efficiency in managing case exhibits. SCDF’s pumper firefighting machine has autonomous firefighting capabilities and can reduce the manpower required to respond to fires. SPF’s unmanned aerial systems support crowd management and search operations. The Police’s cameras network has also helped keep our public housing estates and spaces safe. It has aided our officers to solve more than 5,000 cases since its introduction in 2012. The video images captured have also significantly reduced the time taken to solve crimes.
14. With technology, the work of our officers will also change. Officers can focus on higher level work, make faster and better decisions supported by technology.
Forge Close Partnerships With the Community and Stakeholders
15. The second point I had earlier made was about forging close partnerships with the community and stakeholders. Active community involvement is key to tackling internal and external threats. In dealing with the threat of terrorism and radicalisation, our SGSecure movement has enabled us to strengthen community crisis preparedness and resilience. We also have a call to action to everyone in our society to come together to safeguard our precious way of life. We are also engaging more closely with the public and the community on key issues, to share data and research on scams and drugs.
16. We are also growing our network of volunteers. Our Home Team Volunteer Network has over 15,000 volunteers. Last year, we saw an increase in the number of cases that SCDF volunteers responded to – the SGSecure Responders and Community First Responders – and this is evidence of our strong partnership with the community. Later this year, we will be launching the Scam Public Education Office. The Scam Public Education Office is rolling out many initiatives to bring the community together, to act against scams.
Strengthening the Home Team’s Culture and People
17. The third point I had mentioned was about strengthening the Home Team’s culture and people. This is necessary in order for us to have a competent, cohesive and engaged workforce.
18. As Guardians of our Home:
(a) The SPF officers prevent, deter and detect crime, not only through enforcement but also working closely with social sector partners.
(b) Our ICA officers safeguard Singapore’s borders, ensuring that we remain connected while facilitating the smooth and safe movement of our people and goods.
(c) Our SCDF officers protect and save lives and property, and also partner the population to ensure that we are always emergency-ready.
(d) Our CNB officers not just enforce, but also educate and engage, rehabilitate.
(e) Our SPS officers are Captains of Lives who strive to build a society without re-offending.
19. Our Employee Engagement Surveys and half-yearly Pulse Surveys over the past 5 years has also shown that Home Team officers are engaged and enthusiastic about their work. In the last Employee Engagement Survey in 2021, the engagement score that MHA has improved by 2% points over 2018’s survey. Many of our Home Team Departments were amongst the highest scoring public agencies.
20. You will soon be joining an organisation that strongly believes in teamwork and provides opportunities for officers to develop and grow professionally. We support our officers with a range of learning opportunities. On formal training, there are functional training courses, and there are milestone programmes anchored at different stages of an officer’s career. When it comes to learning on-the-job, we offer structured job postings and rotation within and beyond MHA. To support officers in learning from others, officers get to participate in Home Team-wide and Public Service-wide projects.
21. We are always on the search to recruit the best young talent to join us. And we set high standards because we are investing in the future safety and security of Singapore. This year, a total of 529 candidates applied for the sponsorship awards. You know, just as we do, that there was a very rigorous selection process. Eventually, we awarded the sponsorship to 28 recipients who are receiving 30 awards today.1
22. All our recipients have demonstrated leadership qualities, the drive and resilience to take on challenges, and most importantly, the passion to keep Singapore safe and secure. Let me mention two of these individuals.
23. Mah Kuang Yi who is receiving the Diploma (Merit) SCDF award, was inspired by the professionalism of the paramedics who had attended to his late grandfather. He then chose to pursue his studies in paramedic and emergency care. Through his studies, he discovered his passion to save lives at the frontline.
24. Koh Rou Ying who is receiving the Diploma (Study) SPF award. Since young, she has aspired to be a police officer, to keep Singapore safe, uphold the law and justice. As a child, she was inspired by her interactions with police officers at the police roadshows that her parents brought her to. And she joined the NPCC during her secondary school days, which reinforced her interest to become a police officer.
25. Today’s award marks the start of your career journey with the Home Team, and I hope that you continue to find that this is a deeply purposeful one, where you get to work alongside similarly-minded individuals across Home Team Departments, united in our collective mission to keep Singapore safe and secure.
26. As you embark on your academic studies, I encourage you to widen your exposure, build new perspectives and networks, whether through internships, volunteering or exchange programmes.
27. With that, I wish all our recipients a successful journey ahead, and thank you to all our parents and teachers for being here with us today.
 There are 2 recipients receiving both the Diploma and ITE awards. Breakdown of the 30 awards: 9 Diploma (Merit), 18 Diploma (Study) and 3 ITE.