Published: 16 May 2016
Home Team colleagues
1. This year, we are happy to have more than 6,600 of our officers being promoted. They come from across the Home Team, across our uniformed services, Civilian officers, NSmen, and Volunteer Special Constabulary. The promotion is recognition of their dedication to duty and a demonstration of being able to take on higher responsibilities.
2. Congratulations to everyone! Thank you.
Ensuring a Future-ready Home Team
3. I have spoken a number of times, in particular this year, on how our operating environment is changing both externally and internally. I don't propose to repeat them – issues of demography and recruitment, the external environment in terms of how the terrorism issues are going to impact us or already impacted us. Some issues are clear and present now, some will come upon us in 10 – 15 years. Again we have said we can't wait for 10 – 15 years, the solutions, the gearing up to face the challenges will have to take place now.
4. So they require us to look ahead, review our policy thinking, look at our operating concepts, our structures and systems, and close the gap between where we are now and where we need to be.
5. From last year, the Ministry Headquarters and the Home Team departments have been working to develop the Home Team Transformation 2025 plans.
7. One example is the way, when approaching the question of terrorism, how we deal with it. Operationally, we will significantly enhance our counter-terrorism capabilities. We have already announced the rolling out of the Emergency Response Teams (ERTs), increased numbers, better weaponry, and different tactics to deal with counter-terrorism scenarios. They will be well-equipped and well-trained.
8. Second, greater use of technology. At the borders, ICA has started its BioScreen project to capture the thumbprints of all travellers for better identification. Within Singapore, there is substantial expansion of CCTV coverage. There is popular support for this, so this is the time to ride on it and roll it out as extensively as we can, to give police the ability to better sense-make and better know what is happening. We will also have to develop deep data analytical capabilities to allow real time monitoring of various footages and make sense of it, because there are only that many pairs of eyes that we have available.
9. Third, we can do all these but we can't do this in isolation. We have to bring the community in, because without the community working with us and walking step by step with us in partnership, it's not going to succeed. Essentially, what do the people who want to do us harm want? They want to strike fear, they want to change the way we live, they want to divide our societies. After the attack, the day after, they want people to wake up and point fingers at each other, across racial and religious lines. So the way the community responds is going to be crucial in this. This is why we will roll out the SG Secure movement, which is going to require a major push on our part to involve the maximum number of Singaporeans possible, to come in, take part, take ownership and responsibility for what they are going to do. And again, I have spoken about this.
10. The fourth element, and certainly not the least important, is our own people, our officers. Officers, NSFs and NSmen will play an active part in the SG Secure movement. They will take on the roles of going out there and mobilising the community. As Community Responders and Community Mobilisers, they will bring people down, they will help us and be the nucleus. They won't be the only volunteers but they will be the nucleus around which we will form additional teams of people who will be trained to be able to respond to emergencies. They will work with schools, workplaces, the community as a whole, educate and organize. They will not only react to emergencies, but also react the day after, as a community coming together across the different divides and make sure that we think of ourselves as Singaporeans first.
Home Team Transformation 2025
11. The aims we have in terms of the transformation for 2025 offer exciting possibilities, exciting opportunities, both for the Home Team as a whole, and of course the officers. We will work out new ways of reaching out to the community on how we will work on safety and security, develop new capabilities in our operations and investigations and new ways of applying technology, including robotics, unmanned vessels, vehicles and automation.
12. The recent Workplan Seminars at the different Home Team Departments gave a preview of the kind of things that we are hoping to do. At the same time, we have to be realistic. It is not going to be done in a day. It is easy to identify where we want to go, it is easy to identify what we want to do. But actually implementing it across a large organization, like the Home Team, is going to take a lot of effort. It's not going to be easy and we have to do it. We have no other choice. And that transformation, that change, I can talk about it, the Commanders can talk about it, but you, the man on the ground, are the ones who will make it happen. You will have to lead the charge in the transformation.
13. We need leaders who can communicate the changes to their officers. We need you to enthuse and explain why we are heading in this direction, why we need to transform, why the transformation is important, and fundamentally, how the changes will make Singapore more secure.
14. The jobs and the work that we will do in the Year 2025 will look very different from what we are doing now and we have to prepare for that. The way we prepare should be to put priority on the training and development of every one of the Home Team officers.
15. The Home Team Academy will take the lead in this field. HTA plans to be the Corporate University (CU) for the Home Team and to help officers take on and acquire the knowledge and skills needed for the challenges of the future. The Academy will partner leading local and international Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). Together with the IHLs, they will develop milestone programmes and modular programmes across different domain areas, to ensure they are relevant for our officers.
16. The Academy will design and develop courses and pathways for officers to obtain academic and professional qualifications. For example, the Academy is exploring with both UniSIM and the Law Faculty of NUS on offering modular programmes on law, which can be extremely useful for our officers.
17. The Academy will also establish a Centre for Leadership (HTCL). The HTCL will use structured developmental roadmaps for milestone programmes and the programmes will focus on leadership development for the Home Team leaders. The HTCL will also introduce a new leadership programme for superscale officers called The Phoenix Programme. The aim of this programme is to develop our Home Team leaders into Commanders, into the top leadership positions. The current Home Team Senior Command and Staff Course will be further enhanced to include special leadership skills.
18. The Academy is also reviewing content for the Home Team Leadership Programmes for Senior Officers and Junior Officers. The intention is to try to introduce elements of strategic public policy issues such as cyber-security, terrorism, multi-culturalism, so that our officers can understand the operating environment, context and also how it is changing, so that they can become more effective. This will help broaden our officers' perspectives. The training schools of the Home Team Departments are also exploring the various pedagogies that can help bring learning closer to our officers. It is not possible for everyone to take time off to go for a course in any extensive manner. It is possible at different points of your career, but learning now is continuous.
19. How do we make sure that that continuous learning is available while the structured training is also available? The Academy will launch the Home Team Learning Management System (HTLMS). This will be an online, one-stop portal that hopes to reach 25,000 officers. It is ambitious and provides continuous learning needs. Frontline officers on operational duties, will if they so choose, be able to access these portals and develop themselves. The Academy is also developing a Home Team Simulation System which will provide realistic, joint-operations training for Home Team Commanders.
20. If we can put these together well and make sure that the environment is right for our officers to both go off on courses to learn and also access them through the learning portals, then our Home Team officers will be developed and made better suited for the jobs that they are doing and to be developed as Commanders.
Ready Today, For Tomorrow
21. Even as we prepare for the next 10 - 15 years as Home Team Leaders, all of you will have a part to play to ensure the success of the Home Team and the mission.
22. Today, I would like to congratulate the 211 officers who will be receiving their certificates of promotion tonight.
23. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank their spouses and family members because this job cannot be done without the support of their families.
24. To our officers, I look forward to your continued valuable contributions to the Home Team. I wish everyone of you the very best in your onward journey with the Home Team.
25. Thank you.