MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship Presentation Ceremony 2019 - Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs

Published: 08 August 2019

Award recipients,


Family members and Guests,


Home Team colleagues,


Ladies and gentlemen,


  1. Good evening and welcome.


  2. This evening, we will be presenting scholarship, sponsorship and study awards to 197 Home Team officers, including those who are awarded the new MHA Science and Technology sponsorship.


    • 159 of these officers will be pursuing undergraduate studies,
    • While another 38 will be pursuing postgraduate studies.


  3. To all of our award recipients, congratulations and well done.


    • MHA thanks you for your outstanding service, commitment, and passion to make a difference by keeping Singapore safe and secure.
    • This award recognises your potential to contribute more to the Home Team.


    MHA Book Prizes


  4. Tonight, I will also be presenting the MHA Book Prize to 9 Home Team officers pursuing the BA (Honours) In Criminology and Security Programme, which is offered by the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in collaboration with the University of Liverpool (UOL).


    • The MHA Book Prize is awarded to the top two Home Team students in each cohort, and the top three Home Team students from the graduating cohort with the best dissertation paper.


    A Ready Home Team for a Safe and Secure Singapore


  5. Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world.


    • Based on the Gallup Global Law and Order Report, Singapore has been ranked as the safest country in the world for the fifth year running.
    • Public confidence in the Home Team to keep Singapore safe and secure remains strong.


  6. We are able to enjoy peace and stability because of:


    • Robust laws, effective enforcement, strong community partnerships, and
    • The dedication and professionalism of our Home Team officers.


  7. The security landscape will continue to evolve rapidly with new challenges and threats emerging.


  8. Terrorism has taken new forms over the years from attacks by terrorist groups to the emergence of self-radicalised lone wolf attacks.


    • While the impact of ISIS which peaked a few years ago has abated, their presence is still to be felt especially on the internet. The threats from people getting radicalised remains.
    • Therefore, we must stay vigilant and be keenly attuned to what is happening and proactively manage the risk.
    • The Christchurch shootings and Sri Lanka bombings are tragic testaments to the ever present threat.


  9. The fight against drugs will also become more challenging.


    • Other countries are taking a more liberal view towards drug abuse. Sometimes they even change the name, they no longer call it drug abuse. They call it drug-use disorder, and characterised it as a health problem mainly. Some have gone ahead to legalise cannabis for so-called “medical” and even recreational use, despite clear scientific evidence to the harms of cannabis.
    • Influenced by the mis-portrayal of drugs and cannabis on the internet and foreign media, young people have become more receptive to drugs.
    • Our laws reflect the moral vision of our people. We need to continually educate Singaporeans so that they are not misled by information from overseas mass media and social media, and that we will continue to take a firm stance against drugs.


  10. On another front, cybercrimes are getting more sophisticated with technological advances being also used and misused by bad guys. We have seen an increase in online scams, as well as cyberattacks, such as the one on SingHealth which compromised the personal information of patients.


    • According to the latest Singapore Cyber Landscape report by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, cybercrime cases continued to grow in the last three years, from 15.6% of overall crime in 2016 to 18.6% in 2018. So they are a larger contributor to our crime these days.


  11. As our operating environment gets more complex and with limited resources, we need to adapt and transform to stay ahead of those who seek to jeopardise the safety and security of our people.


  12. The Home Team Transformation which we started since 2015 aims to make the Home Team more effective and prepared for all challenges.


    a)     We will leverage technology aggressively.


      i)     For example, SPF has launched the Sky Aerial Response Command or SkyARC to boost aerial surveillance during security events and search missions across a large area.


      ii)     SCDF has put on trial the use of an artificial intelligence system which will transcribe 995 emergency calls in real-time for SCDF emergency call dispatchers to recognise all four national languages and even Singlish. The trial, if it is successful, will significantly reduce the time taken to process emergency calls. Every minute saved could also mean a life saved.


      iii)     To deepen our technological capabilities, MHA will be setting up, HTX, our new Home Team Science and Technology Agency. This will be up and running by December this year.


    b)     We will continue to forge strong collaborations with international and local partners.


      i)     SPS and SCORE, what have they been doing? Well they have been stepping up partnerships with the community to strengthen rehabilitation and community correctional efforts and help our offenders to get their lives back on track.


      ii)     CNB works on the international front to rally like-minded countries to uphold the stance for a drug-free society.


    c)     We will build stronger one-Home Team operations.


      i)     The Home Team Operations Centre is being set up as a 24/7 nerve centre for all Home Team operations.


    Investing in Our People is our Key Priority


  13. At the heart of it, people are our key pillars for success. We will keep investing in our Home Team workforce to realise the vision of Home Team transformation.


    a)     We continue to attract talented and passionate people who relate and can resonate with our purpose to join the Home Team.


      i)     MHA introduced several new scholarships in the last few years to meet our growing demands in various areas.


      ii)     This includes the Home Team Science and Technology Scholarship, ICA Scholarship, SCDF Paramedic Scholarship, and just this week, Minister (HA) announced the introduction of the MHA Merit Scholarship for civilian appointments in the Home Team.


    b)     We also provide structured and purposeful development opportunities.


      i)     The Home Team redesigns jobs to support new ways of working and our officers need to upgrade their skills to stay effective. The SkillsFuture@HomeTeam e-guide, which you saw in the video just now, supports this effort. There are some examples I want to share with you on how these tools that we put in place helped.


      • Checkpoint Inspector (1) Muhammad Rosman Bin Abdullah from ICA is excited to learn about SkillsFuture@HomeTeam. He feels that analytics are an important component of checkpoint operations and looks forward to using the e-guide to hone his data analytics knowledge and skills to identify high-risk travellers for enhanced checks while facilitating immigration and baggage clearance of bona fide travellers.


      ii)     HTA is also partnering with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to offer the Bachelor of Public Safety and Security (Honours) programme. This three-year direct honours full-time degree programme in safety and security studies provides development opportunities for officers who aspire to obtain a degree, in a way that is relevant to their work.


  14. We also offer different career pathways for a meaningful and enriching career. Expert tracks have been created to allow our officers to deepen their specialist skills and develop in their career. SPF and SCDF have implemented expert tracks in 2016 and 2019 respectively. Other Home Team Departments will implement this way of operating in future. The MHA Science and Technology Sponsorship launched last year also allows our officers to deepen their specialist skills.


  15. MHA will continue to explore new developmental opportunities to ensure a skilled, competent and ready workforce. We are encouraged that there are many dedicated Home Team officers who strive for excellence in their work and take a keen interest in your own development. Let me share two examples.


  16. The first is Sergeant (3) Ryan Ling Xiao Wen from SPF, who fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a police officer by signing on at the age of 19 before his National Service. Ryan started as a Ground Response Officer and was later selected to join the Emergency Response Team. Ryan constantly struggled with the notion that he was lagging behind his peers as they were in university. He persevered and successfully applied for a scholarship at his second attempt. Ryan will be pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering in Materials Science and Engineering at the National University of Singapore this year, and he hopes to learn new ways to equip ground officers with better equipment and technology. Well done, Ryan!


  17. I also want to share the story of Senior Warrant Officer (1) Mohammad Iskandar from SCDF, who had to work to support his family after completing his National Service. He thought about taking a part-time degree on his own but career and family took precedence. Now at age 45, he will be embarking on a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Paramedicine and Emergency Response at the Singapore University of Social Science. He hopes that this will encourage his children and colleagues to keep a positive perspective towards lifelong learning. He is truly an inspiration as well.




  18. In conclusion, MHA is committed to providing our officers with a meaningful and challenging career, and developing them to their fullest potential.


  19. I wish all our award recipients every success in your studies and look forward to your return so that you can keep contributing to the Home Team, keep contributing to Singapore. It is such an apt occasion, as this is the National Day weekend, and there is also Hari Raya Haji.


  20. It is certainly great to see so many of the family members of our officers who are here to cheer them on and support them, because behind every Home Team officer, we know there is a family, there is a network of friends, people who care about them, give them the support, and also make provisions for their unusual work hours and all the demands of the work that are not necessarily the same in other kinds of professions. So to all our recipients and also to your family members, thank you and Happy National Day in advance.