Published: 28 July 2023
Family members and friends,
1. Good afternoon.
2. Today, 153 Home Team Officers will be receiving scholarships and sponsorship awards:
(a) 114 of them will pursue undergraduate studies, and
(b) 39 will be going for their postgraduate studies.
3. My heartiest congratulations to all of you! This is such a significant milestone in your professional career.
Essential Role Each One Plays in the Home Team’s Mission
4. As Home Team officers, you are entrusted with the important responsibility of protecting our citizens, maintaining law and order and preserving Singapore’s unique way of life.
5. The Home Team has done very well in keeping Singapore safe and secure.
(a) Singapore is consistently ranked as the safest country in the world in Gallup’s Law and Order Index, and physical crimes continue to remain low and stable.
(b) According to the 2022 World Fire Statistics Report, Singapore continued to have one of the lowest fire fatality rates in the world.
(c) Our overall two-year recidivism rate among ex-offenders remains low and stable, and continues to be one of the lowest globally.
6. Your contributions go beyond maintaining law and order, and securing our borders.
(a) They extend to fostering a sense of safety, stability and trust within our communities.
(b) Through your efforts, Singapore thrives as a place where all individuals, regardless of their race, religion, or socio-economic backgrounds, can feel secure and pursue their dreams.
Emerging Threats in a Complex and Interconnected World
7. We must, however, continue to brace ourselves for emerging threats and evolving challenges confronting the Home Team.
(a) First, cybercrimes and scams are on the rise. In 2022, there were over 30,000 scam cases reported in Singapore, which was about 33% more than in 2021. The problem will persist as criminals will likely exploit advancements in technology, like Generative AI, to carry out even more sophisticated online crimes.
(b) Second, the spread of radical ideologies online continues to fuel the self-radicalisation threat in Singapore. Such ideologies are easily accessible through videos, podcasts, social media, messaging apps and even online gaming platforms. Since 2015, 45 self-radicalised individuals have been issued Orders of Detention or Restriction Orders under the Internal Security Act.
(c) Third, as international interest groups advocate for the liberalisation of drug policies and other countries relax their drug laws, we must be concerned about the knock-on effects on Singapore. The war on drugs to keep Singapore relatively drug-free will become even more challenging if a liberal attitude towards drug use takes root in Singapore. as it has elsewhere in the world.
Embracing Technology to Strengthen Operational Capabilities
8. In the face of these challenges, the Home Team has to sustain our transformation efforts.
Leverage Technology to Deliver Greater Efficiencies
9. In fact, we have been using technology to supplement our manpower resources and to achieve greater efficiencies. For instance, the Singapore Prison Service’s has got the AVATAR System to use video analytics to alert prison officers to abnormal or aggressive behaviour amongst inmates. Officers can then respond quickly to potential conflicts, keeping both inmates as well as the officers safe.
Use Technology to Forge Stronger Partnerships
10. We also use technology to promote stronger partnerships between the public, private, and people sectors to combat threats, such as scams. For example, SPF works closely with local telecommunications companies to terminate mobile lines used for scams. The SPF uses analytic tools to identify and block scam websites, by detecting tell-tale characteristics. In 2022, more than 6,500 mobile lines were terminated and about 20,000 websites were blocked. The Home Team also works with stakeholders to secure Government services and banking channels, to reduce system vulnerabilities.
11. At the level of the individual officer, digital upskilling has become a necessity in this digital age. Everyone has to learn to use technological products that will enhance our effectiveness and efficiency at work. Our investments in technologies at the organisational level can produce good results only when officers are able to optimise these tools.
Enable Home Team Guardians to Be Skilled and Future-Ready
12. This is also why in the Home Team, we have consistently affirmed our people as the key to our mission success.
13. MHA places strong emphasis on personal and professional development, and offers a full range of developmental initiatives to enable our officers – the Home Team guardians – to reach their highest potential.
14. The MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship award is one such initiative. It is intended to enhance our officers’ professional capabilities and to support their academic upgrading.
Delve Into Critical Areas of Research and Study
15. It enables our Home Team guardians like you to take a step back from the demands of daily operations and delve into the critical areas of research and study. This will equip you with the skills and knowledge that will contribute to the Home Team’s ability to tackle current and future threats.
16. Let me highlight two of today’s recipients:
17. First, Checkpoint Inspector (1) Muhamad Izuan Bin Muhamad Ismail, who joined ICA in 2013. He will be pursuing the Bachelor of Public Safety and Security at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). He chose to pursue this degree to understand more about the ever-changing security climate and global geo-politics that may impact Singapore.
18. The second is Senior Staff Sergeant Waren Ng Zheng Rong, who joined CNB in 2012. His desire to continually upgrade himself is inspiring. Waren is furthering his studies for the second time while juggling the demands of being a father. He completed a diploma in 2019 and will be embarking on the Bachelor of Public Safety and Security at the SUSS.
Engage With Leading Experts and Institutions
19. The MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship award also provides our officers the opportunities to engage with leading experts and institutions, and interact with classmates of different backgrounds and experiences. They will bring best-in-class practices and knowledge back to MHA when they have completed their studies.
20. An example is Home Team Specialist (HTS) 12 Cindy Toh, a psychologist with the Singapore Prison Service. She witnessed first-hand how her unit’s work in Psychology can make a profound impact in the lives of inmates as well as the workplace. Cindy is looking forward to the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers across industries and work settings beyond MHA, and to see what best practices she can bring back to the Home Team. Cindy will be furthering her specialisation with a Masters in Organisational and Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Additional Developmental Initiatives
21. Besides this programme, MHA also supports Home Team officers in their continuous upskilling and re-skilling efforts through additional developmental initiatives, such as:
(a) The Learning & Development Subsidy (LDS) that allows officers to pursue learning activities in their own time. We are pleased to see that there are officers who have utilised the LDS to upgrade themselves with digital and innovation-related skillsets such as predictive analytics and lean six sigma.
(b) We also have the Professional Development Programme (PDP) which allows good-performing officers to engage in sponsored activities for up to four weeks. Officers could attend conferences, conduct research on a particular area of interest or pursue work attachments to acquire new skills and knowledge relevant to MHA’s work.
Engaged Workforce, Fuelled by a Caring and Cohesive Culture
22. At MHA, we believe that an engaged workforce is the key to achieving our mission of safeguarding our nation’s security and well-being. We place strong emphasis on employee engagement and we are committed to developing our officers.
23. Our Employee Engagement Surveys and half-yearly Pulse Surveys over the past five years have shown that Home Team officers are engaged and enthusiastic about their work.
(a) In the last whole-of-government Employee Engagement Survey, MHA’s overall engagement to organisation score remained high at 84% in 2021 and improved by two percentage points from 82% in 2018.
(b) We have since continued to place strong emphasis on employee engagement, and this has shown in our latest two MHA internal Pulse Surveys completed in September 2022 and March 2023, where more than 80% of Home Team officers found meaning in their work, and experienced good supervisory support, as well a strong teamwork.
24. Working as One Home Team, I am confident that we will be able to meet future challenges robustly and effectively, and keep Singapore safe and secure.
25. The award you are receiving today is a testament to your dedication, passion and potential to make a real difference to the future safety and security of our nation.
26. I strongly encourage all of you to make full use of this opportunity to maximise your learning and exposure, and look forward to you returning to contribute further to the Home Team.
27. Congratulations once again to all our award recipients!
28. Thank you very much.