Home Team Diploma and ITE Sponsorship Awards Ceremony 2019 – Speech by Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry for Home Affairs and Ministry for National Development
Published: 27 April 2019
Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
A very good morning to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you for this year’s Home Team Diploma and ITE Sponsorship ceremony.
The Diploma Sponsorship was first introduced in 2009, and the ITE Sponsorship in 2012. Since then, we have given out more than 550 awards in total. Today, we are giving out another 56 awards. Congratulations to all the sponsorship recipients.
I would also like to specially acknowledge and thank the family members, principals and teachers who have nurtured and supported our sponsorship recipients through the years. They have brought you to where you are today and I am sure they are proud of you and your achievements.
Committed and Professional Team with Meaningful Purpose
With the award, you will join the Home Team, and I warmly welcome you into our midst. In the Home Team, we work hard for a critical mission. We safeguard our country, keep our homes secure and protect our people. Our officers put their lives on the line daily for this purpose.
So today, you will be joining our various Home Team agencies: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the Singapore Prison Service, the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Central Narcotics Bureau. Key representatives, key management officers from these various agencies are here with us today, and that’s because they are very proud of you and they are looking forward to welcoming you into their work to join in their team. Together, these Home Team agencies, together with you in the future, will be keeping Singapore safe and secure.
Challenges faced by Home Team
But the safety and peace that we enjoy today cannot be taken for granted. Each and every day, the Home Team continues to face many challenges.
The threat of terrorism remains real and high. Just last month, there were shootings in two mosques in Christchurch. The world was shocked by this attack and the Prime Minister of New Zealand called it the nation’s darkest day. Before this, most people would not have imagined that such an incident could happen in New Zealand.
We are fortunate that an attack has not happened in Singapore, at least not yet. But we must not let down our guard.
Apart from terrorism, crime also continues to evolve in different ways. We now live in an age where the internet has pervaded our lives. Together with global inter-connectedness, we are seeing crime and cyber scams being conducted across national borders, and with increasing complexity and sophistication.
All these trends add pressure and expectations on the Home Team. Ensuring Singapore remains safe and secure is increasingly challenging. So as to continue fulfilling our mission effectively, the Home Team must be future-ready, or risk falling behind the many challenges that we face.
TECHNOLOGY – A CRITICAL ENABLER
There are several things we are working on to help us stay ahead of the game.
Developing our Science and Technology Capabilities
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be setting up a dedicated Science and Technology Agency by the end of this year. Key in our initiatives is the need to use technology effectively. So we are doing this to deepen our science and technology capabilities, so that the Home Team can become more effective in our work. We will focus on the science and technology capabilities that are the most critical for the Home Team’s mission.
One of this is biometrics technology, to facilitate cross-border travel. Last year, we handled 212 million cross-border travellers. By 2025, this figure could increase to around 300 million, or close to a million persons a day. We must make sure that only bona fide travellers are allowed to enter or leave the country. And we must meet this higher level of workload within tight manpower constraints. So we have to invest much more in biometrics technology to do so.
Later this year, ICA will implement the BioScreen-Multi Modal Biometrics System across our checkpoints, which will make our immigration clearance process more efficient and secure. With this system, ICA can use any of three biometric identifiers – iris, facial and fingerprints – for immigration clearance. Biometric identification will be more accurate. This will also benefit travellers, such as older travellers with poorer fingerprint quality and may have some trouble using the fingerprint biometrics auto-gates today.
Another example is the use of robotics to augment SCDF’s operational capabilities. SCDF has a Life Detection Robot that is specially designed for use in rubble and debris.The robot is equipped with life detection sensors that can pick up sound, heat and chemical releases from the human body. With this capability, officers can accurately detect whether there are survivors. This means officers do not have to trawl through the rescue site manually, which is inefficient and could even endanger their own lives. That’s not all. The robot also has 3-D mapping capabilities, which gives officers on the ground a map of the explored environment. This allows officers to plan search and rescue operations more effectively because they can see and understand the terrain that they are dealing with.
PEOPLE – A CRITICAL PILLAR
I have shared some of the important science and technology capabilities that enhance the Home Team’s operations and help us keep security threats at bay.
But we remain clear that our people continues to be the key pillar to fulfil our mission. Therefore, even as we leverage technology, we must make sure that our officers are equipped with new skillsets to handle their evolving jobs. We are deeply committed to help our officers grow professionally and personally.
Equipping our Officers with Relevant Skillsets
One of the ways we are doing this is the identification of six cross-cutting skills which are relevant to all Home Team officers for their work. For each skill, we have developed competency frameworks, so that we can train our officers more systematically.
I will highlight one of the six skills and that is data analytics. The Home Team will be digitalising more of our processes and be using more data, so our officers will and have to be digitally and data enabled as well. We will keep moving with the times.
So all our officers have been trained in the basic competency level for data analytics. This was done conveniently online through an e-learning module. It includes case studies and HT-specific scenarios to help our officers appreciate the importance of data to enhance frontline operations.
We also have officers who are data analytics practitioners and experts, and they require much deeper levels of competencies. This select group can pursue additional courses, such as software coding, Data Visualisation and Machine Learning.
Providing our Officers with Development Opportunities
Besides training courses, we also give out scholarships and sponsorships to our officers for further studies.
An officer who has benefitted from this is Staff SGT James Ting. James joined the SPF in Nov 2011 and first served as a Neighbourhood Police Centre Officer in Woodlands West. He was performing frontline duties such as conducting patrols and responding to incidents.
In 2015, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue a degree programme in the Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Security at the Singapore Institute of Technology. James did very well in the programme. He graduated with a first-class honours, and was awarded the MHA Book Prize Award in 2016 and the Best Dissertation Paper award in 2018. He is now back with the SPF as a Senior Officer Trainee, and we are looking forward to the various contributions that he will make to the Home Team.
We also support our officers through the Professional Development Programme which allows officers to pursue short-term development activities, such as a work attachment in the private sector, or attending a course and so on.
An officer who has taken up the Professional Development Programme is Ng Jiunn Shyong. In his work, he looks at major infrastructure projects such as the future Changi Airport Terminal 5. Jiunn Shyong ensures such key projects incorporate critical security considerations in its design. He pursued a three-week course on Airport Ramp Operations and Management at the Singapore Aviation Academy. It has helped him better understand the intricacies and complexities of the airside environment.
With that, in conclusion, I would like to congratulate all award recipients once again. Thank you and I wish you all the best in your continued education.We are looking forward to you joining us in the Home Team and contributing to the safety and security of Singapore.