Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good morning.
2. I am very pleased to join you for today’s award presentation ceremony.
3. Since the introduction of the Home Team Diploma Sponsorship Awards in 2009, and the ITE Sponsorship Awards in 2012, a total of 378 award recipients have already graduated from the polytechnics or ITE and are now serving in the Home Team.
4. Today, we have another 55 award recipients to add to those ranks. Amongst the Home Team Diploma Award recipients, 4 are in fact former Home Team ITE Award recipients. We are very happy that they are able to further their education, and to continue their careers with the Home Team.
5. My heartiest congratulations to all award recipients, your family members, teachers and principals. We are all very proud of you.
Meaningful Career in Home Team
6. You will probably know by now that a career in the Home Team is unlike any other. The Home Team is entrusted with the responsibility for Singaporeans’ safety and security.
7. Fortunately, the Home Team has been successful, in achieving this. In the Gallup Global Law and Order Report 2017, Singapore was again ranked first. The Economist Intelligence Unit Safe Cities Index 2017 ranked us second, just behind Tokyo. From the public perception survey conducted in 2016, Singaporeans, a vast majority of them, 93%, felt safe walking in their neighbourhoods at night. Our overall drug situation remains under control and is the envy of the world. Our fire fatality rate is among the lowest in the world. In 2017, our recidivism rates and immigration offending situation have improved.
8. But we must not take the present state of affairs for granted. Our environment is getting much more complex. Terrorism as a threat to Singapore has probably reached the highest level unseen in recent times. Transnational syndicated crimes, such as online scams and trafficking of drugs are more prevalent. The Home Team will be under strain
from the increase in workload. Criminals are not about to take a break and they are becoming more innovative and sophisticated. So we must be ready. The increase in workload will come on many fronts.
* For example, demand for SCDF’s emergency medical services is expected to double in around a decade.
* The number of travellers to Singapore will increase with the development of the High Speed Rail with Kuala Lumpur and Changi Airport Terminal 5. ICA, Police and CNB will have to deploy more officers at these checkpoints and to help them to become more effective.
9. The Home Team has to deal with these challenges, even as we grapple with resource constraints.
10. I would just like to share with you three major areas that we are working on.
11. First, we will innovate and leverage heavily on technology to improve our operational effectiveness, by helping our officers to do more, and to do better. An example is the use of unmanned vessels or robots.
* The SCDF has already begun using Unmanned Firefighting Machines, or UFM since 2014.The UFM is a remote controlled fire-fighting unit built to operate in extreme heat and hazardous environments. In other words, we want to be able to put out the fires but not put our officers through so much risk and to try and reduce the dangers that they face.
* The Police Coast Guard has also been deploying unmanned surface vessels (or USVs) in trials, since 2016. These USVs can patrol Singapore waters autonomously and help to project police presence to deter crimes at sea or even potential terrorist acts.
* More recently, SPF has trialed the deployment of the patrol robot at this year’s Chingay parade. The robot can be used to help the Police detect threats and suspicious characters – more pairs of eyes at the event.
12. Second, we will build stronger joint capabilities across the Home Team. We can do more, if we pool our resources together. The ICA’s Integrated Checkpoints Command (or ICC), launched in 2015, is a clear example. With a unified command and control structure, clearer lines of responsibility are provided for ICA, Police and CNB officers working together at the checkpoints. We have different teams but one command. This has allowed them to achieve greater operational coordination. Everyone knows what they are in charge of and everyone knows who else they can count on in order to be effective. We are also working on a Home Team Operations Centre. The Home Team Ops Centre will pull together the ops centres of the different Home Team agencies. The Centre will have access to cameras and sensors across the island. This will allow Police, SCDF and other agencies, including sister agencies like LTA and so on, to coordinate their responses to an emergency. For example, you have a traffic situation, is it continuing to build up or are you able to dissipate it? So you have to work across the different HTDs but also with other sister agencies.
13. Third, we will strengthen our partnerships with the community. The Home Team cannot achieve a safe and secure Singapore on its own. We need the community’s active participation. A prime example is SGSecure, to prepare the public against the threat of terrorism. We are working with various agencies to raise public awareness and preparedness against the threat of terror attacks. Our aim is to have a prepared citizen in every household. If we can achieve that, it will make a real difference. We have made good progress, having reached out to more than 300,000 households. But, I remind you, in Singapore we have one million households. So we still have some way to go, before reaching our target of a prepared citizen in every household.
People as Our Priority
14. Over and above all of these strategies, MHA must maintain a workforce that is highly skilled, effective and committed.
15. Our officers remain the most important asset of the Home Team. The Home Team is not the same without you. The Home Team must continue to provide an attractive career to ensure that we are able to recruit talented individuals, such as yourselves, to join us.
16. We will continuously invest in the development of our officers to upgrade and upskill them. For example, we introduced the Mobile Classroom. It is literally a classroom on wheels – a large truck, where the back of the truck can be expanded to become a classroom, to reach our officers wherever they may be. The Mobile Classroom can enable learning anytime, anywhere. We also use Virtual Reality technologies for more immersive scenario training, so that you are better able to appreciate the circumstances that you have to operate in, and have that situational awareness, and they help to hone the judgment skills of our officers.
17. We will provide attractive career pathways to our officers. All Home Team Departments (HTDs) have introduced the Unified Single Scheme. With the single rank structure, diploma holders with good performance can have more advancement opportunities. To develop key capabilities, we introduced expert tracks in SPF, and will be doing likewise for the other HTDs. For good performing officers with potential, they can look forward to sponsorship opportunities to upgrade themselves further, both academically and professionally.
18. Let me share just one example of First Sergeant Tan Rui Wen from the SCDF. Rui Wen received the Home Team ITE sponsorship for Higher NITEC in Paramedic & Emergency Care in 2016. After his graduation, he was deployed to Yishun Fire Station as a paramedic. As a paramedic, Rui Wen responded and attended to many cases, including cardiac arrest, where it is a fight against time to save a life. To enhance his medical knowledge, the SCDF has sponsored him to pursue a diploma. Rui Wen started his Health Sciences (Nursing) programme at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2017, and is expected to complete his diploma in 2020.
19. So let me conclude. All of our sponsorship recipients can look forward to a career that is meaningful, rewarding and exciting with the Home Team. You will learn new skills, be challenged by new situations and make a difference to keeping your family, loved ones and fellow citizens safe and secure.
20. Once again, congratulations to all our award recipients. I wish you the very best in your studies. I look forward to having you join the Home Team family upon your graduation. Thank you.