Published: 19 October 2015
Pioneer Officers of the Singapore Police Force
Colleagues from the Home Team, and the National Heritage Board
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good morning to all of you. I am delighted to launch the exhibition of the former Combined Operations Room (fCOR), as part of the Home Team's SG50 celebrations.
2. This exhibition, curated by the National Heritage Board and jointly organised by the Home Team Academy and the Singapore Police Force (SPF), is dedicated to our pioneer officers who worked tirelessly to lay down a strong foundation for the safety and security that we enjoy today. I am happy to know that some of our Pioneers who used to work in the former COR are here with us today to witness this exhibition launch.
The former COR – ahead of its time
History of the Radio Division
3. In late 1945, the Police established the Radio Branch (later known as Radio Division) at Robinson Road using abandoned radio equipment left behind by the Japanese and British armies. This marked the start of the development of the Police's command, control and communications capability.
History of the Former Combined Operations Room
4. The former COR, which we are about to enter, was built during the tumultuous years of nation building. Following large-scale violence from a series of Malayan Communist Party-instigated labour strikes, as well as racial tensions in 1950, it was assessed then that there was a need for better coordination between the Police and the Army to conduct joint operations to deal with social unrest. This led to the birth of the COR, which tapped on Radio Division's capabilities to coordinate police-military communications. It was launched in 1956 by then-Chief Minister David Marshall.
5. A few months later in October 1956, the Chinese Middle School riots broke out, and the former COR served as the nerve centre to coordinate the joint operations between the police and military. You will find out more about this when you tour the facility later.
Architecture and infrastructure of the former COR
6. The former COR was equipped with some of the most advanced technologies of its time. In addition to having communication technologies like radio and tele-printers, the infrastructure of the building itself was also state-of-the-art. The walls of the underground bunker are two-feet thick, strong enough to withstand bombings to allow its operations to continue in times of war or crisis. An emergency power plant was installed onsite to provide electricity to the building in case of a power outage. It was also fully air-conditioned at a time when air-conditioning was almost unheard of in Singapore.
Blazing a trail
7. After Singapore's independence, the Radio Division continued operating out of the former COR. During high-key incidents such as the Hotel New World collapse in 1986, officers had to work day and night to handle the many phone calls made to the police hotline. This facility remained operational until Dec 1988, when computerisation and heavier demand for police services necessitated the move of the COR to the adjacent Pearl's Hill Terrace. In 2001, the COR facility, together with the Radio Division, shifted to New Phoenix Park and was upgraded to handle new challenges of modern-day policing.
8. The SPF has continued to enhance its capabilities to stay ahead of the evolving safety and security challenges. Today, the COR has been transformed into the Police Operations Command Centre (POCC). In addition to managing triple nine ('999') calls and coordinating the dispatch of response forces, the POCC leverages the latest technologies to enhance the SPF's incident response and management, as well as sense-making capabilities in order to safeguard the safety and security of Singapore and of Singaporeans. In this regard, I am pleased to note that the POCC continues to exemplify the progressive spirit of the former Radio Division.
9. The former COR played an important role in managing difficult challenges in the early years of Singapore's history. While it has ceased operations in these premises for some 26 years, we are reminded of the dedication and contributions of our Pioneers in building a safe and secure Singapore. Please join me in a round of applause to thank our pioneers, including those who served in this former COR, for their service to the nation. Pioneers, you have laid a strong foundation for the safety and security that we all enjoy today.
10. It is now my pleasure to declare the exhibition of the former Combined Operations Room open.
11. Thank you.
 The Chinese middle school riots were a series of riots that broke out in the Chinese Singaporean community in 1956, resulting in 13 people killed and more than 100 injured. In 1956, after Lim Yew Hock replaced David Marshall as Chief Minister of Singapore, he deregistered and banned two pro-communist organisations, sparking off the riots.