Published: 28 October 2021
Minister of State Desmond Tan,
Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee,
Co-Chairmen of the Home Team Volunteers Network (HTVN),
Home Team Steering Committee Members,
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs
Award Recipients, Volunteers,
1. Good evening to all of you.
2. Year after year, we share with you that Singapore remains one of the safest cities in the world, if not the safest. Last year, Gallup’s global study on law and order ranked Singapore number one. Six years in a row now, since 2015. If you look at The Economist Intelligence Unit, it ranked Singapore as one of the top three safest cities in the world, behind Copenhagen and Toronto.
3. This safety is made possible because of the strong partnership of the community, our volunteers – all of you who serve as additional operational forces on the ground, and provide different perspectives, ideas, solutions on how to keep Singapore safe, advocate for Home Team causes, and bring in your family, friends, and community to support the Home Team.
4. So, with your strong support, and the way the Home Team tackles issues, we remain a safe and secure place.
HTVN's Milestones: Looking Back
5. If you look at volunteerism, the record in Singapore is very impressive. It’s a long history.
6. Our Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) started in 1946, and this year, it will be celebrating its 75th anniversary. Prisons were engaging and involving volunteers as early as in 1950. Since then, we have Crime Prevention Ambassadors (CPAs), Yellow Ribbon Project volunteers, and the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU).
7. And in 2011, all volunteer groups were brought together to form the Home Team Volunteer Network (HTVN). Today, there are 12 volunteer schemes from five Home Team Departments, under one HTVN.
8. I want to specially thank at this point, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee. He has led the HTVN movement for the past ten years, since its very beginning. He has inspired Home Team volunteers with a greater sense of purpose and identity, and he has helped foster a strong sense of belonging and trust amongst our volunteers. Thank you very much Prof Ho, for your leadership and your strong support for the Home Team and HTVN.
Contributions of Our Volunteers
9. Our VSC officers are deployed to Police land divisions and specialist units. They work side by side with regular and Police NSF officers. Our VSCs contribute significantly to law and order in Singapore. During this period, they have also stepped up to assist in COVID-19 operations. CDAU volunteers work hand in hand with regular officers to carry out firefighting, rescue, and emergency medical services. Prison volunteers play an important role in the rehabilitation and re-integration of ex-offenders, and they help to provide support for released offenders too.
10. There are many other volunteer groups – Crime Prevention Ambassadors, Yellow Ribbon volunteers, Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy Network (A3) under CNB, and many others. They help to raise public awareness of crime prevention, acceptance of ex-offenders, the harms of drugs, and much more.
Repeating the Value of HTVN
11. With HTVN, volunteers from various Home Team agencies can now connect with volunteers from other schemes, and it allows them to better understand the work done by other Home Team Departments and their respective volunteers. So, it is not just about being a Police volunteer, but a Police volunteer who understands the work of SCDF, Prisons, CNB, and advocates for their mission.
12. HTVN facilitates this cross-sharing between our volunteers. Learning journeys are organised about three to four times a year with our Home Team Departments. These “Walking with the Home Team” learning journeys allow volunteers to visit and see the inner workings of places such as prison facilities, checkpoints, police stations, and fire stations.
13. HTVN has gone virtual now because of COVID-19. Since April of last year, HTVN has conducted five webinars and two dialogue sessions, for close to 800 volunteers. These sessions cover topics from online scams, drug abuse, road safety, to terrorism. We will continue to hold these virtual sessions regularly, until we are able to come together physically.
14. HTVN is also on Facebook and Instagram, and HTVN’s TikTok has been introduced since Apr 2021. It has interesting, short videos on different aspects of the Home Team. Look out also for videos featuring our own volunteers!
Recognising and Appreciating Volunteers
15. We introduced the Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award for Home Team volunteers in 2011, from a suggestion from Prof Ho to recognise the contributions of our volunteers. In the last 10 years, 140 volunteers have received this award.
16. Today, on our 10th anniversary, we are giving out the ‘Outstanding Volunteer Award’ for the first time. It has been introduced this year to commemorate HTVN’s 10th anniversary, to recognise volunteers who take up leadership roles, and demonstrate strong commitment and active participation.
17. Let me speak about two of our ‘Outstanding Volunteer’ award recipients.
18. First, Mdm Jenap. She is a volunteer leader with the Yellow Ribbon Project. She was known as the ‘Cat-woman’. She once dressed up as the iconic character and went on a personal overnight marathon to raise $120,000 for the Yellow Ribbon Fund. She is also active in promoting and creating awareness of the Yellow Ribbon work through roadshows and events, and now, also on virtual platforms. Well done Mdm Jenap!
19. Another ‘Outstanding Volunteer’ award winner is Mr Tham Wai Kee. He’s a VSC officer. In his 32 years with the VSC, Mr Tham has served in many leadership positions, including as Head VSC in Bedok Division and Central Division. He is now Commandant VSC at the Police Training Command, planning and executing VSC Basic and Competency Courses. He also serves as a Panel Interviewer for recruiting new VSCs.
20. Congratulations and thank you to Mdm Jenap and Mr Tham, for your outstanding work. Other ‘Outstanding Volunteers’ award recipients, thank you too, and the 16 Commendation award winners. To all volunteers, thank you for your unwavering support and partnership.
HTVN's Aspirations: Looking Forward
21. Looking forward, the results from our inaugural Volunteer Engagement Survey in 2018 were positive and encouraging.
22. 8 in 10 volunteers said their volunteering experience with the Home Team had met their expectations, and they said they were willing to continue volunteering with the Home Team for the next two years. HTVN will conduct the second Volunteer Engagement Survey this year.
23. We will also adopt a life cycle management strategy to better retain and engage volunteers. We will review the types of volunteering opportunities available in the Home Team, to align with volunteers’ skills, preferences, and priorities at different life stages.
24. For example, a Civil Defence (CD) Lionhearter graduating from the polytechnic or university may choose to join the VSC or CDAU at the first instance, and then move to other volunteer schemes like Citizens on Patrol (COP) or CPA in subsequent periods.
25. This will allow more people to join the Home Team volunteering movement, and facilitate existing volunteers to better manage their time and energy in volunteering with the Home Team.
26. In conclusion, let me once again extend my appreciation to our volunteers for helping us to fulfil our mission. I would also like to thank each of your spouses and family members, for their support and understanding. Many of you hold full-time jobs, and yet take precious time after work to volunteer, sometimes sacrificing family time and personal rest. We thank you and your family.
27. I wish you a pleasant evening.