Home Team Promotion Ceremony 2017 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 22 May 2017

Home Team colleagues, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.


2.     This year, more than 4,600 of our officers will be promoted across the services. They come from our uniformed services, civilian officers, National Service men, Civil Defence Auxiliary Units, Volunteer Special Constabulary, and so on, across the entire range.


3.     So we thank you, and congratulate you for your deep commitment and for making a difference in the way Home Team performs. The entire Home Team works together, not just those who are fortunate enough to be promoted this year, there are others as well, and that is why the results are what they have been.


4.     Last year was another year where the Home Team did extremely well. It was a busy year, but there was a high level of operational excellence that was achieved throughout the year, not as busy as 2015, but it was still a busy year.


5.     In the last three years, the crime rate was the lowest in 2016. I shared this in public, the surveys that we had done, the high level of confidence in various Home Team Departments.


6.     Take the Police force in the Public Perception Survey last year, around 90 percent believe that the Police are ready to deal with major law and order issues, and 93 per cent of our population feel safe walking home alone in their neighbourhood. Those are the results you would not get anywhere else in the world.


7.     In another public survey, and I shared this at SCDF Workplan Seminar, 99 per cent of the population were confident of SCDF's capabilities.


8.     Recidivism remains low and more inmates are securing jobs even before their release from Prisons. If you look at immigration offenders, numbers have gone down. The number of drug abusers arrested also came down last year. Though we have outlined challenges in each of these specific areas, the challenges remain.


9.     Since last year, we have intensified our counter terrorism efforts and the key focus of our counter terrorism efforts last year has been trying to bring the community on board. So SGSecure was launched and we took a number of steps to enhance the communities' vigilance, its ability to respond, the training that they are given, and many joint exercises were conducted – Exercise Quicksilver for example, it involved more than 3,200 officers from the Police, SCDF, ICA, and of course SAF, and many community responders. It was a successful exercise – we learnt a lot from it.


10.     The level of professionalism based on training and preparations showed, for example, in how the SCDF was able to deal with two major fires – the fire at CK building in August last year, and then in February this year at Tuas waste management plant. Both incidents were handled swiftly, they were handled professionally, and without loss of lives, without it being spread to other premises. Sounds easy, looks easy, but they were huge fires.


11.     The dedication, the strong sense of duty, and the professionalism of our Home Team officers was on display throughout the year and that was what made these results possible.


12.     Earlier this month, we held our Home Team Show and Festival, in conjunction with NS50. The purpose was to celebrate what Home Team does, to first bring it to our own officers as to what the Home Team stands for, and second to bring to the wider public what the Home Team stands for, and I think both objectives were achieved. We shared with fellow Singaporeans how the Home Team works and works together. Really, a lot of the work is behind the scenes, away from people's eyes, the sacrifices that our officers make. An analogy I would use is, when you look at a swan it is very stable, it is very quiet on the surface, but it is paddling furiously at the bottom. So our Home Team officers work extremely hard in order to keep Singapore looking as safe and serene and calm as it looks on the surface. Through the Show and Festival, I think we shored up support from public, and we need that support from the public to give us that degree of confidence, repose on us that degree of trust and confidence for us to have the power that many other police forces, many other response forces do not have in the world. We have a greater degree of power and we exercise it responsibly, and it is only possible if the public trusts us and believes in us. And they believe that we will work to keep their homes safe. So I am proud that the Show and Festival was run successfully, and I am prouder still of our Home Team officers.


Enhanced Organisation Capabilities, Future-Ready One Home Team


13.     We have talked about our constraints for our Home Team officers – manpower constraints – so as many of you know, we embarked on the Home Team Transformation 2025, I want to touch on three areas in that aspect – first, technology and data, second, joint operations and capabilities, and third, community partnerships.


14.     On technology, we have to use more technology and data across the Home Team. For example, Police will issue every frontline Police officer with a smartphone. This will allow our Police officers to be updated with timely and relevant information on-the-go, and as they arrive at their destination, they can pull out and look at a variety of data that is relevant. It will help provide our officers with more situational awareness.


15.     ICA for example, has started to collect iris images. At the checkpoints, we will use multi-modal biometrics. That will help us in our identity verification, and at the same time we will increase the number of automatic clearance counters. I am giving these as examples in each area, but of course the extent of use of technology has to go beyond this.


16.     CNB, as was announced last year, will use data analytics to conduct risk assessments of every drug supervisee so that we do not need to look at all the supervisees in the same way. We will watch higher-risk drug supervisees more closely, and some others with lower-risk will require a lower level of intervention. That will free up our CNB officers to focus on other critical tasks. That is a snapshot of how we are going to bring in technology together with an evidence-based approach.


17.     Second, on joint operations and capabilities, we have started to develop Joint Home Team operations plans and doctrines. More exercises will be conducted so we can strengthen this coordination, so we can truly say there is a joint Home Team operations plan and joint Home Team doctrine.  Officers from Police, CNB, SCDF, ICA will be co-located physically together at the Police Operations Command Centre by end 2017.  This will enable immediate, faster communication and information sharing among the Home Team Departments and we hope it will result in better coordinated ground responses.


18.     A lot will depend on how we are able to share data across the different Home Team Departments. There are legal issues, but there are also operational issues, and you will need to be able to share and at the same time you will need to be able to protect data. This is a critical area. Without that kind of sharing of data, there will always be limitations of this joint approach.


19.     Third, we will strengthen community partnerships. The SGSecure outreach has done exceptionally well. Much better than I have dared to hope. And we will continue to use SGSecure to reinforce community mindshare about its role on response to counter terrorism issues. We will also work with the community in a much broader way. We'll step up on drug education and rehabilitation. We already do. Reaching out to schools, parents, companies. At the same time, our teams are studying some interesting models in Iceland, and other Nordic countries. They also believe in reaching out to the young, reaching out early, to schools, but that's a slightly less top-down approach. It encourages a greater level of participation from children themselves and the parents. A lot more responsibility on the parents. And I think we should try for that. On rehabilitation, we will work with the community partners, we'll support ex-offenders through counselling, training them and getting job opportunities made available for them, and really help them reintegrate back into society.


Our Leaders – Critical to Realise the Outcomes of Our Transformation for 2025


20.     We are now at a critical part of the journey in Home Team Transformation. We are working very hard to put those plans into action. It's not going to be easy, it's going to require a lot of hard work, but it is essential that we push hard if we want to achieve the objectives. We have to do it right and we have to do it well.


21.     As Home Team leaders, we need to champion and drive the transformation, bring the plans to reality, and make sure that we bring the ground along with us, so that the transformation is actually realised on the ground.


22.     That really requires living the One Home Team concept. Sharing of information and intelligence, working together on joint operations, taking a life cycle approach to enforcement and rehabilitation, leveraging common technology and performing as one team.


23.     We will transform the way we work. We are going to build significant new capabilities, so that they can continue to do the job that they have been doing well, if not, better. And it can't happen unless our officers are an active part of this change process. Train, re-skill, up-skill.


24.     As leaders in that journey, the success or failure, is going to be dependent on you. You will have to carry it. Lead your teams, sustain the momentum and morale and prepare our officers and our Home Team, for the journey. At the end, everything boils down to our human resource and leadership.


Conclusion: Ready Today, Safer Tomorrow


25.     We will not achieve a safe and secure Singapore, we will not achieve the transformation, without outstanding officers like you. You are at the core of everything we do. You are required to be courageous, steadfast, committed, resilient officers, and leaders who lead.


26.     I congratulate the 187 officers who are receiving certificates of promotion tonight. And I thank your family members, your spouses, because without them, you wouldn't be able to do the job that you are doing. To our officers, we look forward to your continued contributions. Thank you.


 Media Factsheet Home Team Promotion Ceremony 2017.pdf


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