Home Team Promotion Ceremony 2021 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 19 May 2021

Home Team Colleagues,

Good evening.


1.        Congratulations to all officers promoted this year.

2.        This is a happy occasion for us to recognise and celebrate your achievements. Thank you for your contributions to the Home Team (HT)!

3.        The promotion is also a recognition of your readiness to take on higher leadership responsibilities.


2020 Achievements

4.        If you look back at 2020, the HT has done well, in a difficult COVID-19 year. I am proud of how our HT officers responded to COVID-19, while maintaining operational excellence. Your commitment and sacrifice help to keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe.

5.        The HT can be proud of many achievements in 2020. One, you maintained operational excellence. We remain one of the safest, most peaceful places in the world. Second, you ensured a safe and orderly General Election, all in the midst of a pandemic. Third, we continued to adapt and adopt technology, and improve training, to enhance our operational response and deliver better services to the public.


Importance of Strong Leadership

6.        Underpinning all of this, is leadership. Good leadership in any organisation is vital, and likewise in the Home Team Departments (HTDs). That is the reason why we have been successful. Several of you will take up higher leadership responsibilities, so let me deal with leadership.

7.        We face increasingly complex crime and security challenges. Challenges are evolving, changing rapidly, and HT leaders are going to be needed to think forward and be capable of strong solutions. First, leaders with the ability and foresight to anticipate the challenges ahead, and to figure out how to deal with them. Second, leaders who can motivate officers and junior officers, and equip and train them to meet the challenges. And third, leaders who can shape their organisations, keeping it true to its values and mission, while adapting to meet the challenges.

8.        We are pushing ahead with efforts to transform the HT by 2025 and introduce technology in a very substantial way. That is already underway. HT leaders must know it cannot be – and it won’t be – business as usual, if we are to succeed in dealing with emerging threats. We have to look ahead, develop solutions for new problems, and continue shaping our units and organisations today.

Leadership and Public Trust

9.        At the same time, we have to maintain the high level of confidence and trust in the HT. Trust is absolutely critical, and the fundamental currency of our work.

10.        Public perception surveys show year after year that Singaporeans have a high level of confidence in the HT. In the latest Public Perception Survey 2020, 92 per cent of respondents took the view that the HT performed well and kept Singapore safe and secure. 91 per cent trust HT officers to do their duties professionally and fairly, and with integrity.

11.        There are some who continue to attempt to attack and delegitimise our HTDs.  I have made these points on previous occasions.

12.        Strong HT leadership is required to deal with this as well. First, if mistakes are made, to admit and correct them. HT Leaders need to ensure that our forces are disciplined. However, if allegations are untrue, we cannot allow our HTDs to be intimidated or debased, and we must firmly rebut the allegations.

13.        Maintaining public trust and confidence does not always mean making popular decisions. It means being prepared to make difficult decisions for the wider public good, even if the decisions are unpopular. The responsibility of leadership is to do what is difficult but right, and communicate, explain, bring around people.

Building a Strong Workplace Culture

14.        Our HT leaders also have an important responsibility to build a strong workplace culture. As leaders, it is important that you communicate clearly, lead with empathy, and foster a sense of purpose and mission amongst your officers.

15.        The semi-annual Pulse Survey is one gauge of our HT leaders’ efforts and an indicator of workplace culture. Officers’ perception of leadership in Pulse Survey has improved significantly over recent years and now they are at highs of above 80 per cent. Overall officer engagement scores have also climbed significantly across most of the HTDs.

16.        It is a positive development. As HT Leaders, you must continue to listen closely to your officers, and have a good sense of how they feel and what their issues are, to help them do their job even better.

Grooming Strong Leaders

17.        Next, we have to groom strong HT leaders. That is vital to the HT.

18.        It is not enough for HT leaders to be domain experts. We have to have HT leaders who develop cross-cutting skills, knowledge, and networks, so that we can work as one HT.

19.        We bring leaders from across the HTDs together through leadership development programmes, at different stages of their career. For example, the Phoenix Programme for senior HT Leaders; the HT Staff & Command Course for officers recently promoted to the superscale grade; the HT Civilian Milestone Programme that was established in 2018; and the inaugural Leaders in Enforcement Management Programme held in 2020.

20.        We also bring in prominent private sector leaders and public sector leaders, for dialogue sessions, to share real-life experiences and practical advice. This helps widen horizons.

21.        Further, we have implemented a 360 Degree feedback and coaching for HT middle and senior management. This helps our leaders with honest feedback not just from superiors, but also peers and subordinates. It is critical for our leaders to know their own strengths and gaps.

22.        These are some of the efforts to develop and groom a stronger HT cadre of leaders. 



23.        2020 has been a tough year. Your work, your sacrifice, and your dedication have kept Singapore safe.

24.        We rely on you to lead your officers through the challenges ahead with dedication, honour and integrity.

25.        I am confident that, together – we can continue to keep Singapore safe and secure.

26.        Once again, congratulations and well done! Thank you.