Published: 15 July 2022
Good afternoon award recipients,
Family members and friends,
1. First and foremost, congratulations to the 148 scholarship and sponsorship award recipients this year. Of these, 118 officers will be pursuing undergraduate studies, while 30 officers will be pursuing postgraduate studies, in various fields, locally and overseas.
2. Being awarded a scholarship or sponsorship is a recognition of your outstanding service, and a testament of our belief in your potential to contribute to the Home Team in bigger ways.
Trusted and Competent Home Team
3. The Home Team has done well so far in our mission. The crime rate in Singapore remains low. Singapore has been ranked safest in the world for the seventh consecutive year. In the 2020 Gallup Law and Order survey, 97% of Singapore residents feel safe walking alone on the streets at night. The global average is just 69%. Contrast that, with our 97%.
4. There is a high level of public trust in the Home Team. In a survey that we conducted in 2021, 90% of Singapore residents surveyed trust Home Team officers to carry out their duties professionally and fairly.
Challenges Facing the Home Team
5. We are therefore in a good position, but we will have to work hard to maintain this, amidst the many challenges that the Home Team faces.
(a) Our operating environment is dynamic and complex, and increasingly unpredictable and volatile. We have to be ever ready, and in fact, we have to try our very best to get ahead in dealing with evolving threats such as in terrorism, scams, hostile information campaigns, and other societal divides.
(b) The protracted Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the operational and resource demands on us. On top of our officers’ regular duties, many of you have worked tirelessly to contribute to the nation’s fight against Covid-19 – from conveying cases to hospitals, to enforcing the Stay-Home Notice regime.
(c) With the uncertain economic outlook and shrinking resident labour force, our fiscal and manpower situation is tight.
6. We must therefore constantly find ways to transform the way we approach our mission.
Future-Ready Home Team
7. In 2015, we embarked on the Home Team transformation journey. In particular, we wanted to tap technology as a force-multiplier to augment our resources and improve our operational effectiveness.
8. For instance:
(a) To make our immigration clearance more efficient and secure, earlier this year, ICA has introduced the Automated Clearance Initiative to allow eligible travellers, including foreign visitors, to clear immigration using automated lanes. ICA and HTX are also currently live trialling the Automated Passenger In-Car Clearance System at Woodlands Checkpoint, to allow self-immigration clearance for car passengers. Feedback from travellers have been positive.
(b) To improve our ability to respond to crimes, Police will expand its camera network to more than 200,000 cameras in public places by 2030. Video analytics capabilities will promptly alert officers monitoring the cameras, to criminal and public order incidents taking place.
(c) To strengthen the capabilities of our emergency responders, in June this year, SCDF and HTX jointly launched the Emergency Responders’ Fitness Conditioning and Enhancement Lab, or “EXCEL” for short. EXCEL will collect and analyse the physiological and cognitive data of officers so that customised training programmes can be developed for SCDF and other Home Team officers to enhance their performance. It is very customised to our individual needs and responses.
Dedicated, Engaged, and Skilled Home Team Workforce
9. However, for all the technology that we employ, a Home Team that is able to fulfil its mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure, would not be possible without you – our people.
10. Therefore, building a dedicated, engaged, and skilled workforce is, and always, will be our key priority.
11. In the latest Public Service Employee Engagement Survey, MHA’s overall engagement to the organisation score remained high, and in fact, improved by two percentage points – from an already high 82% in 2018, to 84% in 2021.
12. Nevertheless, we will continue to invest heavily in recruiting passionate and talented officers, developing our officers by equipping them with the skills to excel, and taking care of our officers’ well-being.
Recruit Passionate and Talented Officers
13. We will continue to recruit talented individuals who share our values of honour, integrity, and courage, and who are passionate about playing their part to safeguard Singapore.
14. Individuals like you.
Develop Our Officers
15. We will continue to place strong emphasis on your growth and career development.
16. We provide quality training for our officers throughout their career with us.
(a) Apart from the basic training conducted by the respective Home Team Departments, new entrant senior officers also attend a 10-day Home Team Foundational Course. They learn about the operations and capabilities of different Home Team Departments, and how we work together to keep Singapore safe and secure, and build strong camaraderie.
(b) At key points of their career, our officers will attend milestone leadership programmes.
(c) To better prepare our officers to meet the future world, they are also sent to attend courses in digital skills such as data analytics, Robotic Process Automation, and systems thinking.
(d) There are also opportunities for our officers to participate in cross-agency projects and to gain experience through attachments with other public agencies as well as the private sector.
17. In 2019, we worked with the Singapore University of Social Services to develop the Bachelor of Public Safety and Security programme for our officers. Since its inaugural run in 2020, we have more than 70 MHA Degree Scholarship recipients who are currently on, or will be enrolling into this programme.
18. I would like to highlight two such officers today.
(a) The first is Checkpoint Inspector (1) Mohamed Iskandar Bin Mohamed from ICA. Iskandar has been with ICA for seven years and has received several commendations for his outstanding performance. Although Iskandar knows that juggling studies and parenting is not easy, he has decided to pursue further studies because he wants to be a role model to his child. Iskandar will be pursuing the Bachelor of Public Safety and Security at SUSS.
(b) The second officer I would like to highlight is Superintendent (1A) Chee Chin Lin from SPF. Chin Lin has been in service for about 13 years. Although she has no prior communications background, Chin Lin decided to challenge herself to learn new functional skills and pursue a Master of Science in Communication Management at the Singapore Management University. Chin Lin is also a parent, a mother of two young children, and she certainly is an inspiration to all of us as well.
19. Strong leadership is vital to the Home Team’s continued success. The challenges confronting the Home Team are constantly evolving, and our leaders need to be able to think forward, and quick to adjust and adapt. Therefore, we invest heavily in grooming Home Team leaders.
20. We run leadership development programmes such as the Phoenix Programme and Home Team Senior Command and Staff Course, as well as Home Team Civilian Milestone Programmes, where we bring leaders from across the Home Team together at different stages of their career.
21. We also help to widen the horizons of our Home Team leaders by inviting prominent private sector leaders for dialogues to share their perspectives and experiences.
22. To ensure our officers have fulfilling and rewarding careers, we offer them many opportunities for structured career progression and specialization.
(a) For those on the uniformed track, the unified rank structure has enabled 735 junior officers to progress to senior officers since 2016.
(b) For those on the civilian track, they can develop their careers along a generalist track or specialist track, such as in the fields of intelligence, commercial affairs, or psychology.
Take Care of our Officers’ Well-being
23. We will also continue to take good care of our officers’ well-being.
24. We provide group term life and personal accident insurance coverage for our uniformed personnel as well as our civilian officers in specific roles, as we recognise the greater risks that they face in the course of carrying out their duties.
25. Our Home Team psychologists provide counselling support to help officers with their mental well-being. They also train supervisors on how to identify stress and mental health concerns in officers, and what they can do to better support the officers.
26. This year, we renewed and provided complimentary HomeTeamNS Corporate Membership for all Home Team officers and full-time National Servicemen, to encourage stronger esprit de corps in the Home Team community. Being a HomeTeamNS member allows you to access all HomeTeamNS clubhouses and facilities at members’ rates, and enjoy other benefits and privileges.
27. You can look forward to a brand-new HomeTeamNS clubhouse at Bedok later this year. I must say it is shaping up to be a very attractive clubhouse, which I’m sure will provide many hours of opportunities for family bonding amongst our Home Team officers and their families, and I very much look forward to its opening in the not-too-distant future.
28. To conclude, to all the family members and friends of our award recipients, thank you for your unwavering support and sacrifices that you have made to support our officers. Your continued understanding and encouragement to our officers is key to their success at work, and now their studies as well.
29. And to all our award recipients, congratulations once again.
30. We look forward to you returning to contribute further to the Home Team. Meanwhile, we encourage you to study hard, and also take breaks when you need to. So, on that note, thank you once again for being here. Congratulations to our award recipients and your families, well done!