Published: 02 December 2015
DPM Teo Chee Hean
Friends and colleagues
1 It is an honour and a privilege to be here tonight to pay tribute to DPM Teo for his years of contributions to the Home Team, which goes back beyond four and a half years.
2 DPM Teo shouldered a heavy load with many portfolios. In addition to being Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, his other duties included Minister-in-charge of the Civil Service, the National Population and Talent Division, the National Climate Change Secretariat and National Research Foundation.
3 For the Home Team, he steadied the ship during a difficult period. There were real and present threats for us to deal with, such as the resurgence of violent extremism. There were also crises and incidents to address, both at home and abroad.
4 We bear in mind his reminder: it is not a matter of whether a terrorist attack will happen, but a matter of when and how we respond. Bombings in Bangkok and bloody attacks in Paris remind us that such attacks can happen any time, anywhere, even when we are well prepared. We hope it will never happen in Singapore, but hope is not a strategy, not when the safety and security of Singaporeans are at stake.
5 DPM Teo played a central role in ensuring that we were not just hopeful – but that we were actually prepared. Under his watch, we have emerged as a stronger Home Team.
6 Let me briefly cover three areas. First, DPM Teo strengthened our policy framework and put in place a stronger legislative backing for our work. The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act, Remote Gambling Act, and Organised Crime Act have strengthened our law enforcement levers for the longer term. He also amended a number of Acts, including the Police Force Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act, to ensure that our legislation remains up to date.
7 Second, and quite critically: DPM Teo secured more resources and a multi-year resourcing arrangement. This has enabled the Home Team to plan for the long-term and embark on bold transformation efforts. As a result, our Home Team Departments are more effective because we can now plan and implement new concepts of operations.
8 We have fought crime across a broad front which span across tough laws, strong enforcement, and extensive community support. Under DPM's watch, the Home Team firmly brought unlicensed money lending under control. Unlicensed money lending peaked in 2009 with 18,000 reported cases. In 2014, there were 6,000 cases, back to 2004 levels. We also now work better as one Home Team. The Integrated Checkpoints Command directs the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority, Singapore Police Force, and Central Narcotics Bureau at the checkpoints under one unified command, to respond more effectively to threats and to better safeguard our borders. With DPM's guidance, the Home Team also adopted a holistic, using a throughcare approach towards rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. These transformations did not come easy — they required the nurturing of a leader who had both the vision and the resolve to see these through.
9 Third, DPM Teo built up strong partnerships both at home and abroad for the Home Team. He was particularly concerned about strengthening resilience to respond to "the day after" of a terrorist attack. He championed collaborations between different community clusters and the Home Team under the Community Engagement Programme, and actively supported the work of the Religious Rehabilitation Group. He also improved bilateral ties with many countries, particularly with our closest neighbour, Malaysia.
10 This year has been an especially hectic one for all Home Team officers. Some of the major operations include the period of national mourning for our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the 28th Southeast Asian Games, Jubilee Weekend Celebrations, and the General Elections. The Home Team under DPM Teo has risen to its calling of keeping Singapore safe and secure. Public trust and confidence in the Home Team remains high.
11 We salute the strong and steadfast leadership of DPM Teo. He has laid strong foundations for the Home Team to embark on its long term transformation journey. Because of his leadership, the Home Team is now a stronger operational outfit, more prepared for contingencies, and better ready for the future.
12 DPM Teo is leaving us with a dedicated Home Team. The work is of great importance, to ensure every Singaporean feels safe and secure, and to have the freedom and assurance to pursue their dreams. He has left us with a strong legacy of what we have achieved, overcome, and built together. We will strongly support DPM Teo in his portfolio as Coordinating Minister for National Security.
13 On behalf of all the men and women of the Home Team, Thank you.