Home Team Diploma and ITE Sponsorship Awards Ceremony - Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 29 April 2017

Award recipients, parents, Home Team colleagues, ladies and gentlemen


1.     Good morning. This morning, 44 of you will be receiving the Home Team Sponsorship Awards. Out of the 38 receiving the Home Team Diploma Award, seven were also former Home Team ITE sponsorship recipients.


2.     Congratulations to all our recipients on your academic, co-curriculum and leadership achievements. I also congratulate your parents for raising such fine children who have done so well in school, and to teachers and principals whose support and guidance have helped you develop and grow.


3.     Since the launch of the sponsorship awards, 302 award recipients have already graduated and are now serving in the Home Team, to keep Singapore safe and secure.


Building a Future Ready Home Team


4.     Today, Singapore is among the safest cities in the world. We were ranked first in Gallup's Law and Order 2016 Report. In a recent public perception survey, 92% rated general safety and security in Singapore as "good" or "very good". Sometimes you travel overseas on tour and at the day's end, after dinner, you want to wonder around the city visiting, and then you wonder if it is safe. Once I was in South America, in a very safe district. The driver told me, please do not walk around at night, even in this area.


5.     Our overall crime and recidivism rates remain low. Recidivism means repeat offences. While the Home Team has done well in keeping Singapore safe and secure, we face new and evolving threats such as terrorism and drugs. They are constantly evolving – the challenges change and become more complex. This requires us to build new capabilities and change the way we operate. We have therefore embarked on Home Team Transformation 2025. It is a short name, but it means a lot of things. It means a lot of things for Singapore, for the Government to do, and for our scholars and officers to implement and to experience.


6.     A key part of the transformation is the greater use of new technologies to combat crime, save lives and secure our borders. For example, now we use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs, deployed to support Police and SCDF's work. The Police Coast Guard has also been testing the use of Unmanned Surface Vessels to enhance response capabilities. ICA has also started to use iris images to enhance identity verification. In fact, our borders, including our land borders, will change in the near future. I was at the ICA Workplan Seminar a couple of days ago, and we already saw prototypes of how our border checkpoints at Woodlands and Tuas and certainly our airports and sea checkpoints will change, allowing our officers to focus on key security risks, while allowing technology to handle the automated clearance, checking of documents and passports.


7.     The Home Team Transformation will also see more extensive and deeper integration of our operations across various domains and Home Team Departments. For those of you who are not familiar with the Home Team, there are a variety of departments, but transformation involves integrating them so they work much more closely with each other. This is for greater efficiency and effectiveness. For instance, by the end of 2017, you will see officers from the Police, CNB, SCDF and ICA all co-located at the Police Operations Command Centre, or POCC. POCC was solely for Police operations, but with the co-location, other departments will be there, so we can all work together. This will enable faster communication and information sharing among the Home Team departments and enhance coordination of ground response.


8.     As new technologies are introduced, jobs will be redesigned and our officers must deepen existing skills or acquire new skills. For example, with the implementation of ICA's automated self-clearance lanes for motorbikes at the land checkpoints, our ICA officers' primary role will be transformed from clearing travellers who come through our checkpoints at the counters, into a wider array of roles which include risk profiling and security assessment of travellers.


Investing in our people   


9.     Ultimately, of course, it is our officers, your children, who join us and who make the difference in keeping Singapore safe and secure. Technology is an enabler, it allows us to do our job better. Our ability to transform the Home Team to be ready for the future depends very much on our ability to attract talented young people, like your children, to join us here at the Home Team, and to develop and retain good officers, with the passion and commitment to serve, and work as one Home Team.


10.     Investing in our officers and ensuring that you have a good career with the Home Team is therefore important to us. A Home Team career has to be meaningful and exciting to attract and retain good people. We will continue to review and take measures to maintain the attractiveness of Home Team careers. For instance, because we have unified the scheme and rank structure for our Police Force, good diploma holders can look forward to seamless advancement opportunities. In the past, there would be two schemes, but now there is one scheme, so diploma holders can then travel up the ranks if they do well. We have also developed expert tracks to build deep specialties in key domain areas such as investigation, intelligence and special operations. We also want our officers to be able to deepen their skills and become experts, people whom others can look up to for expertise.


11.     From July this year, SCDF, SPS, ICA and CNB will also implement the unified rank structure and scheme. For those of you who will join those domains, this is something you can look forward to. These departments will similarly introduce expert tracks and programmes to develop officers professionally. There will be new career development pathways for officers with specialised skills. Altogether, these measures help to enhance our Home Team's operational capabilities and preparedness.


12.     With these exciting opportunities and developments, you can look forward to a fulfilling and rewarding career with us. There will be many opportunities for you to acquire new skills, deepen your expertise and pursue career aspirations. For good performing officers with potential, you can look forward to sponsorship opportunities to upgrade yourselves even further, academically, as well as professionally. 


13.     I would like to cite an example of our Home Team Award recipient, Staff Sergeant Rayson Yim. Rayson was from our 2012 batch a number of years ago. He joined the Police Force in June 2012 after graduating from Temasek Polytechnic. He served as a Community Policing Officer at Jurong East Neighbourhood Police Centre. He participated actively in initiatives to engage young people at-risk. For instance, he took part in Project COMPASS (Community Park Safety and Security project) and worked with the grassroots, schools and social service agencies to engage young people through sports and activities. Some of you may not think this is policing work. You think policing work is investigating, catching people and putting law and order first, but active policing involves a lot of community work and social work and connecting with people. He also contributed to our crime prevention efforts, such as organising Anti-Scam Roadshows and Wall Mural Competitions. He took part in organising art events and roadshows to tell people about crime prevention. Rayson has done well in his work and demonstrated strong leadership qualities. So the Police have decided to sponsor his full-time studies at SIT-University of Liverpool Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Security. So now, he is taking the next step to pursue a degree. This covers full salary and tuition fees for the three years of full-time studies. He will graduate in 2019 and return to the Police Force as an Inspector.




14.     There are many exciting opportunities awaiting all our young scholars. As Home Team officers, you will learn new skills and be challenged by new situations. 


15.     As we prepare for the future, each and every one of you will have a part to play to ensure the success of the Home Team and our mission to keep Singapore safe and secure. That means keeping your family, neighbours, friends and people around you safe and secure. 


16.     Once again, congratulations to all our award recipients and welcome to the Home Team family. I wish you all the best. Thank you.