Published: 12 July 2018
1. Welcome to all of you, including my parliamentary colleagues Maliki and Faishal, Nee Soon MPs, Home Team NSmen and colleagues. A good morning to all of you.
Role of Our NSmen
2. This is the day that many of us have been waiting for. I am personally delighted to be here. Let me spend a few minutes talking about the clubhouses that we are coming up with, in the context of the role of our NSmen and what we are trying to do, both symbolically and on the ground.
3. If you look at all the operations we do - our day-to-day operations as well as additional special operations - I think it would be fair to say that it is near impossible to do what we are doing without our NSmen today. Working together, both our regular officers and our NSmen, they have made Singapore what it is today. Gallup just published its report. Again, for four years in a row, we have been ranked number one in the world for safety and security. That is what matters to people. If you remove the NSmen’s role in that, I don’t think we would achieve those rankings.
4. Our NSmen are deployed - they patrol our streets, they respond to fire and emergency incidents, they protect our transportation networks, they provide security at key national events, and they work side-by-side with our Police or SCDF officers. We are giving them more leadership roles, more specialist roles, and greater frontline responsibilities.
5. One example is the Geylang Serai bazaar security operations. The entire security operations, for more than a month, was conceptualised, planned and executed entirely by our Police NS officers, together with the ORNSmen. This year, Ramadan coincided with the school holidays. They sacrificed their time with their families to do this. So many of them on the ground, putting their heart and soul into it. By the end of this year, Police would have formed the first Police NSmen Public Order troops. These troops are going to be deployed, first for daily anti-crime patrols, and they can also be deployed at major security events and during national emergencies.
6. All of you know about the recent US-DPRK summit. We deployed more than 2,300 Home Team NS officers. Nearly half, more than 1,000, were ORNSmen. We recalled them, they were deployed and they did a fantastic job. Working together, it was an outstanding display of commitment and professionalism by our regular officers as well as NSmen.
7. In March this year, SCDF had to deal with the Pulau Busing fire, a massive fire.For all those who do not know, all the oil tanks were side-by-side, these are huge tanks. In most countries, they would burn for days. Many tanks would have been damaged, destroyed. The fire would have consumed the entire area. SCDF brought it under control in about six to eight hours. 130 officers were deployed, of whom 80 were full-time NSmen, another three were ORNSmen. So you can imagine, they were pretty much the backbone, together with our regular officers. The full-time NSmen who were deployed to fight the fire, some of them were 20 years old. They fought side-by-side with our regular officers. They battled through heat and exhaustion. We can be extremely proud of our SCDF officers. The team showed tremendous professionalism and clear thinking.
8. So this is the real work that our Home Team does day in day out - whether it is CNB, Police, SCDF, the others, the security side, Prisons. They face real risks to their lives, real threats, real dangers in carrying out their duties. It is not theoretical.
9. They receive support from their families. Many of you here, without your families’ support, this is not doable. So we thank you, and your families, for what you are doing. And Singapore as a whole, of course, we have had NS for more than 50 years. Our collective security depends on NS, and Singapore collectively, values you. For us in the Home Team, our NSmen, we treat you as part of our family. So how do we nurture, how do we bring together, how do we show our appreciation?
Design of New Clubhouses
10. The new clubhouses that we have conceptualised is one symbolic way of showing our appreciation. We want the clubhouses to be iconic. They need to be special, they need to be clubhouses which our NSmen will look at as fostering a sense of Home Team identity, a sense of pride, and a sense of class.
11. So when we discussed it, I told MHA we tear up all the existing plans and we start from ground zero. Let’s, first of all, look at locations. The locations have got to be the best, the designs have got to be top class, and our NSmen have to find the clubhouses a real good experience. And they have to make sure that both the physical structures and the activities that are provided are of the highest quality.
12. The three new clubhouses that we will build will try and achieve these outcomes. We encouraged NSmen to come forward, give their views on the look, the feel of the clubhouses, the facilities. Over the past year, we have consulted our NSmen. We had workshops, online surveys. Many also provided their views through the HomeTeamNS Alumni Connect portal. The Development Committee, comprising NSmen, took these ideas.
13. We also set up a highly talented, professional Advisory Panel to give their views and together, this idea for Khatib Clubhouse has been developed. I have to say the choice of Khatib and Nee Soon as the first clubhouse is entirely coincidental and it has nothing to do with me, though we welcome it. We hope the Clubhouse will be the pride of our NSmen.
14. One of the suggestions was that we have to have more facilities for unit cohesion and team building activities. The new clubhouse will have a 4-storey, 2,800 square-metres Indoor Adventure Hub. It will feature a variety of high and low obstacles. There will also be a high-tech, indoor training facility with state-of-the-art shooting simulators. So people can test themselves in an urban environment, real-time in their decision-making. It will be a realistic experience, challenging scenarios.
15. We also want the clubhouse to be a smart and green building. An intelligent building management system which will tell staff on maintenance and repairs, when they are needed, including when a simple light bulb needs to be changed. Swimming pools will feature eco-filtration technology. There will be solar panels on the rooftop, rainwater harvesting, smart lighting controls and charging stations for electric cars - futuristic.
Partnering POSB on a Smart Clubhouse Initiative
16. We will also make it a Smart Clubhouse. We have POSB who has kindly agreed to be a partner in this initiative. Digital membership will be introduced. Cashless payment system, starting with this Khatib clubhouse. So members will not need to carry physical membership cards when they visit the clubhouses. Payments can be made digitally. It will make access as well as transactions much more convenient.
17. To lay the groundwork, HomeTeamNS has partnered POSB to pilot a prototype in an existing HomeTeamNS clubhouse. We want members to try it out, access the facilities, go there, use the services, use the locker services, make payments and redeem HomeTeamNS dollars, without the need for physical cards. Try and make it a seamless and hassle-free experience. The pilot will then allow us to implement it on a broader scale in the new clubhouses, for full implementation.
18. I would like to thank POSB for partnering us.
Enhancing Digital Platforms
19. Also, in terms of digital platforms, we will enhance and try to fully integrate our online platforms to make membership services more accessible, to really improve the experience. Members already can check what courses are available online. But we want to try and make sure they can, on the go, on the mobile apps, book whatever services they want so that it is much more convenient.
Leveraging Big Data
20. Thirdly, on digitalisation. We want to leverage big data. Do people use the services? What type of services are people interested in? What is attractive? What is not attractive? What is the pattern of usage, kind of usage? I think this data should be harvested and then it allows us to better provide the services at the time that people want. Rather then we deciding what we will provide and when we will provide, we should provide it when people are able to access them. So big data, use of data will help us do that, and that will help us, I believe, serve our more than 200,000 HomeTeamNS members much better.
21. The Khatib Clubhouse promises much. It is going to be the first of three new clubhouses under the HomeTeamNS Clubhouse Master Plan. It is truly an exciting development. A lot of thought and effort has gone into the design and I thank the committee for the very hard work they have put in.
22. The clubhouse, together with the transformation that HomeTeamNS and the Home Team itself is undergoing, will see us having a very different approach within a few years. It is one small way of us thanking our Home Team NSmen.
23. On behalf of Singaporeans, the Government and the Home Team, we honour your contributions. We celebrate your contributions in making Singapore one of the safest places and let’s continue to work together.
24. Thank you very much.