Published: 20 May 2015
Home Team colleagues and distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. This year, more than 5,300 of our uniformed, civilian, Volunteer Special Constabulary officers, and NSmen will be promoted. I would like to congratulate all of you for keeping Singapore safe and secure. Through your hard work and dedication, you have shown that you are ready to take on bigger roles and more responsibilities.
Developing Our People
2. Even as we bring technology to bear in a major way in the Home Team, the Home Team's work remains essentially people-centric, whether you are interacting with members of the public, exercising leadership and management to motivate our officers and to lead teams through trying circumstances, or rehabilitating prison inmates. Ultimately, the Home Team's effectiveness depends on the competence and commitment of our officers, and how well you are trained and equipped to perform your roles.
3. This is why the Home Team places strong emphasis on continual learning and upgrading – to let our officers make the best use of their abilities to help the Home Team fulfil our mission. We want to make sure that Home Team officers are well prepared to handle not just today's challenges, but also the challenges of the future.
4. We have been providing more opportunities for our officers to develop the needed skills, knowledge and competencies. The Home Team Academy and our Home Team training institutions provide specialist and technical training for our officers. These include milestone courses for investigators, courses on tackling white collar crime, as well as courses for security planners covering installation security, border security, and event security planning. Such training courses help our officers to build deeper expertise and skills in specific areas that are directly relevant to their jobs. We also have programmes for Home Team leaders to prepare them for higher level command and staff responsibilities, not just within their own Departments, but working in partnership across the Home Team and with other ministries and agencies.
5. Over the past 3 years, we have also sponsored more than 1,200 Home Team officers for diploma, degree and post-graduate programmes in local and overseas institutions.
6. The Home Team also recognises the abilities, work and contributions of our officers through career progression and advancement. Officers who perform well and show leadership potential can move up through the ranks and become Senior Officers. In the last 3 years, 306 officers have been promoted through the ranks to become Senior Officers. This year, another 117 officers will join them. We are studying ways to re-structure our career schemes to provide more seamless advancement opportunities for Officers to advance into the senior ranks. Police are also developing specialist career tracks to provide career opportunities and a clearer career pathway for officers to build deep specialist expertise in domains such as investigations, intelligence and special operations.
7. We regularly review the terms and conditions of service to ensure that the Home Team continues to attract and retain good and capable officers, and offers rewarding and fulfilling careers. Last August, we increased the salaries of more than 18,000 Home Team officers by between 5 and 12%. The revision, along with the revisions in special allowances, helped ensure that Home Team salaries remain competitive, keep pace with the market and are commensurate with the skills and demands required of Home Team officers.
8. We also want to encourage more of our older, more experienced officers to continue working for as long as they are fit and are able to contribute. This will help the Home Team retain their experience, and they can help guide and mentor younger, less experienced officers.
9. In Oct 2013, MHA extended the retirement age of uniformed Officers from 50 years to 55 years. Since then, more than 80% of the Officers who reached the previous retirement age of 50 continued on with their service in the Home Team. This has helped to provide stability, depth and experience to our Departments.
Working as one Home Team
10. As the work of the Home Team becomes increasingly inter-twined, Home Team officers need to work in a more integrated manner. We should think from a Home Team perspective and combine our efforts better, as we work towards a common Home Team mission.
11. The Integrated Checkpoints Command is one good example. Here, our officers used to work in the same physical premises but they had their own reporting lines. So, with the Integrated Checkpoints Command, we have brought all officers from the various Home Team agencies deployed together at the checkpoints under a unified command and control structure, so that officers work in a more coordinated manner in day-to-day matters, but can also respond more quickly and effectively should incidents arise. These improvements not only benefit our checkpoint users while ensuring checkpoint security, but they also help support the work of our security agencies within Singapore.
12. Several of our NSmen and Volunteers are also being promoted today. Our Volunteers, NSFs and NSmen are an integral part of the Home Team. They undergo rigorous training that prepares them for their challenging roles and responsibilities to maintain the safety and security of our country. They are deployed together with our regular Police and SCDF officers. Over time, many of them have taken on more leadership and command responsibilities and risen to senior positions.
13. We have seen how our Home Team officers came together and stepped up in two recent episodes. In March, during the period of national mourning for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, many Home Team officers, including Volunteers, NSFs and NSmen, worked day and night to allow Singaporeans to pay their last respects to Mr Lee, and send him off on a dignified and meaningful final journey.
14. Last month, after the Nepal earthquake we sent our largest ever Home Team contingent for overseas disaster relief. Our 126 officers from SCDF and Police, including 3 NSmen, carried out search and rescue operations, rendered medical assistance and provided humanitarian aid. Although these officers came from different units in SCDF and Police, they worked well together, with a clear sense of a unifying mission and purpose to help our Nepalese friends in their time of need.
Showing the Way as Home Team Leaders
15. As Home Team leaders, you play an important role to exemplify what it means to work as one Home Team. Through your words and actions, show your officers what it means to work jointly with other Home Team officers – across Departments, and between Ministry HQ and Departments.
16. As Home Team leaders, it is also your responsibility to provide a nurturing environment for your officers. Ensure that they are well-trained, and find meaning in their work. Spend time to get to know your officers and the challenges they face, and help them find better ways to carry out their duties and achieve their mission. Recognise officers when they do well. Take firm remedial action if they do wrong. Encourage them, coach and mentor them and give them opportunities to develop their potential.
17. Lead by example. All of us can draw inspiration from the exceptional leadership of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee and his Cabinet colleagues set a strong foundation for all of us for the peace and stability in Singapore – through law and order. He was prepared to do the right thing, and defend our tough laws and firm enforcement – even when faced with criticism from larger countries. He did not just think about big ideas, but also paid careful attention to people and to fine details – to make sure things got done properly, down to the last detail on the ground. He placed nation before self, and gave his life's work to make Singapore better – for all of us. Let us all do our part to make Singapore even better – for ourselves and our children, and many more generations of Singaporeans.
18. Let me congratulate once again, the 195 officers who are receiving your certificates of promotion tonight. I also want to thank your spouses and family members for their strong support and understanding. I look forward to your leadership and continued contributions in the Home Team, to keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe and secure.
19. Thank you.
 1,556 officers will be promoted within the Senior Officer ranks, and 3,065 officers within the Junior Officer ranks. 107 Volunteer Special Constabulary officers, and 623 SPF and SCDF NSmen will also be promoted.