Published: 08 January 2015
Good morning to all of you.
1. It is my pleasure to join you this morning at the MHA Excel Fest to celebrate outstanding contributions in the areas of Innovation, Improvements and Service Excellence. To our winners of the MHA 3i Awards - your spirit of innovation is an inspiration to all of us. For our Star Service Award winners - I commend you on your passion and commitment to serve our community. I am also happy that our young friends have joined us today to showcase their exciting safety and security innovations. My heartiest congratulations and appreciation to all of you.
2. We face a safety and security landscape where new challenges, both internal and external, are emerging all the time. But there are also new opportunities, through technology and process improvements, to do our work better and smarter. An innovative mindset is essential to ensure that we stay abreast of, if not ahead of, our challenges, and stand ready to seize opportunities to be even more effective in the things that we do. But for innovation to be effective, we need a keen appreciation of the operational environment and its realities. So it is not surprising that some of our best innovations have come from our own ground officers.
3. The following 3i Award winning innovations would not have been possible or seen fruition if our ground officers had not first identified the crux of certain operational problems and then come up with creative solutions to address them.
4. SCDF’s “Dispatcher Assisted CPR program” is one example. It is an innovative just-in-time, and live over-the-phone, coaching of bystanders to perform CPR on heart attack victims. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of preventable death in Singapore. It is estimated that 1,800 Singaporeans suffer from sudden cardiac arrest annually and only 3% survive. When a person suffers from sudden cardiac arrest, every second matters. The chance of survival drops by 7-10% for every minute that passes. So, this innovative programme can have a profound social impact by increasing the survival chances of cardiac arrest victims.
5. A team of Prison officers have also applied their minds to build a machine to ensure the preparation of rice is safely done in the Prison environment. Food safety is an important element in meal preparation in prisons. Recognising this, the team from Admiralty West Prison designed and built a three-level filtration machine which could cleverly process and sieve out foreign particles in rice grains. Made from recycled materials and fabricated in the Prison workshop itself, this machine has eliminated the laborious process of washing huge volumes of rice grains. This solution does not rely on complex technologies. Rather, it was developed through ingenuity of mind to design an alternative and better approach to do our work better.
6. Today, we also celebrate the innovative spirit that our young partners have shown through their innovative solutions for today’s security and safety challenges. The SAFE programme offers MHA the opportunity to explore and collaborate with students on useful innovations and ideas. Through this annual programme, student teams work closely with their Home Team Mentors to develop ideas to continue to keep our country safe and secure.
7. I am pleased that for the first time since the SAFE programme was launched 6 years ago, we have a new category for University students to join in the programme. The early project submissions have been exciting - NUS has designed a mobile app, ‘Speed Photofit’, which offers user-friendly facial templates that will allow witnesses to sketch out a picture of the crime suspect. This can then be sent to the police to help with their investigations.
8. Many other teams have gone beyond engineering prototypes to submit ideas that the Home Team could use in areas such as preventive education and campaigns. One good example is from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which designed a classroom-based game that effectively conveys the importance of communal harmony and emergency preparedness principles to be shared with young children.
9. I look forward to seeing these ideas and others at the exhibition showcase later.
Star Service Awards
10. The work of a public servant is not just a job – it is a calling. It is therefore heartening to know that in spite of the challenges that we face, many of our officers go the extra mile or add a personal touch when serving members of the public, or in supporting each other. Today, we celebrate many of such officers who have gone beyond the call of duty and acted selflessly for the safety and security of our community.
11. One example, SCDF officer Staff Sergeant Muhammad Hafidz who responded to a fire even though he was off-duty. Despite the risks involved, he rushed up to evacuate the resident in the burning flat. He truly exemplifies his organisation’s mission as the nation’s life saving force.
12. Police officer Staff Sergeant Tan Kok Beng is another example of service excellence in public service. He was very concerned for the safety of an old lady suffering from Hoarder’s Disorder. She was initially resistant to efforts to remove the many items in her flat, which posed fire and health hazards, even threatening to burn everything and end her life. Officer Tan tirelessly worked with multiple parties, including the Town Council, Residents’ Committee and HDB, to persuade this senior citizen. His patience and persistence paid off and he eventually succeeded in convincing her to let them clear her house, even eliciting her appreciation.
13. I am delighted that both Staff Sergeants Hafidz and Tan will receive the Distinguished Star Service Award today for doing us proud with their fine examples.
14. At the Home Team, we emphasise the vital roles and responsibilities shouldered by our officers, as well as the importance of partnership with the community. Capable officers and strong community partnerships are key to fulfilling our mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure. I would therefore like to congratulate all award winners on your outstanding contributions, and commend you on your efforts in support of this worthy cause. I also thank all of you for joining us today to celebrate these accomplishments in Innovation, Improvement and Service Excellence which serve to inspire and motivate all of us. Thank you.