Published: 07 August 2017
Award recipients, family members and guests,
Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. Good evening.
2. This evening, we will be presenting scholarships, sponsorships and study awards to 205 of our Home Team officers. 172 of the officers will be pursuing undergraduate studies, while 33 will be pursuing postgraduate studies.
3. To all award recipients, congratulations. On behalf of MHQ, we thank you for your outstanding service, commitment and passion to make a difference. This award recognises your contributions and affirms your potential to contribute even more to Singapore's safety and security.
MHA Book Prizes
4. Tonight, I am also pleased to present the MHA Book Prize to seven Home Team officers pursuing the BA (Honours) in Criminology and Security Programme. The Programme is offered by the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in collaboration with the University of Liverpool (UOL). The Book Prizes are awarded to the top two Home Team students in each cohort, and the top three Home Team students with the best dissertation papers.
Future-Ready Home Team, for a Safe and Secure Singapore
5. We take it for granted, but Singapore is one of the world's safest cities. The public confidence in the Home Team to keep Singapore safe and secure remains strong. This has gone out in survey after survey.
6. The peace and safety that we enjoy today is because of the dedication and unwavering commitment of our Home Team officers. For example, our SCDF officers bravely fought two large fires in Tuas in February and June this year. Officers from across the Home Team, including the Ministry Headquarters, SPF, SCDF and CNB, have also put in a lot of hard work to launch the SGSecure movement together, reaching out to thousands of households, putting in them the mindset that they have to be alert, that they have to be ready, and that they have to stay strong.
7. As security threats continue to evolve, more is demanded of you. As the threat of terrorism draws closer to home, as traditional crimes migrate online and new types of cybercrime emerge, as transnational drug cartels try to profit off new kinds of substances known as new psychoactive substances, and as the world grapples with the security risks posed by fake news and malicious misinformation meant to confuse, antagonise and disturb, the Home Team must adapt. We must be ready to safeguard Singapore against any threat, at any time, in any form.
8. The Home Team is working on a Transformation 2025 Masterplan. It is a plan that encapsulates all that you need to do. This Transformation plan enables us to be a future-ready Home Team, that is well-equipped to deal with new and evolving threats. We will transform the Home Team through upgrading our technology, building community partnerships, and investing in joint capabilities and operations.
9. As a result, many Home Team jobs will change and be transformed. Changes have already begun. Today, our ICA officers are using more advanced biometric systems - iris, fingerprint, facial recognition - to do their jobs better. Our Prison service is working towards a concept of a "Prisons without Guards" and a "Prisons without Walls", essentially providing institutional care and support way beyond the instituitional setting and into the community so that ex-offenders have the best chance of fulfing their life's objectives. Our Police Operations Command Centre uses smart video analytics to aid surveillance and sense-making, not only for the Police, but also for ICA, CNB and SCDF.
Investing in our People
10. You, our officers, are at the heart of the Home Team Transformation 2025. The Home Team cannot succeed, and our Transformation cannot succeed, without all of you. We will continue to emphasise the improvement of your capabilities, including highly-specialised capabilities that you can pursue. We have introduced new training programmes to prepare you to take on jobs of the future. For example, the Human Performance Centre launched last year uses virtual reality technology to train you to use new equipment.
11. We will continue to develop our training programmes to keep pace with evolving requirements in the Home Team. We have also enhanced our scholarship and sponsorship framework to give you more opportunities to develop professionally.
12. For example, we have recently expanded the Study Award scheme. From this year onwards, if you are pursuing courses directly relevant to your work, we will increase the support that we provide you - from 50% of your course fees previously, to 80% for this year. Those taking courses indirectly related to your work can also be reimbursed for 50% of your course fees. We have increased support across the board. We will continue to broaden the opportunites that are available to you to upgrade your capabilities, deepen your skills and advance in your careers.
13. This evening, we gather to celebrate all of our award winners. Amongst you, there are many inspiring stories of dedicated service and drive to excel. I just want to highlight two officers. If you are here, please stand up and let the crowd acknowledge you.
14. The first is Chief Warder (2) Viknesh S/O Govida Dras. Chief Warder Viknesh from the Singapore Prison Service joined 10 years ago, to fulfil his dreams of helping others. As a Senior Personal Supervisor and Reintegration Officer, Viknesh personally interacts with inmates and helps in their rehabilitation and reintegration. I am told one memorable incident involves a young inmate under his supervision. Through counselling, Viknesh was able to understand the inmate's family background, and worked with the inmate's grandmother to support him through the sentence, and beyond that, after release. This inmate later received the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) - no mean feat. For his dedication and contributions, Viknesh has received a study award to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Counselling at the Singapore University of Social Sciences. Congratulations, Viknesh.
15. I would also like to share the story of Principal Psychologist Diong Siew Maan, who is the Commander of the Emergency Behaviour Sciences & CARE Unit in SCDF. Psychologists serve critical functions in the Home Team. They provide professional support for our work across all domains, be it operations, policy, or research and innovation. Siew Mann has served in the Home Team for 16 years. She was involved in providing psychological support for SCDF officers who returned from the two-week humanitarian operation in the Nepal earthquake in 2015. Her work has nurtured her interest in the psychological resilience of emergency responders such as fire fighters and paramedics. Siew Maan will be sponsored to pursue a PhD in Psychology at NTU. Congratulations.
16. MHA is committed to providing our officers with meaningful and challenging careers. We will continue to invest in your development to broaden and deepen your capabilities, to maximise your potential, and enable you to advance our collective mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure.
17. Once again, congratulations to all our award recipients. I wish you the very best in your studies. Study hard and also take some time for your personal development. I look forward to your contributions when you return to the Home Team.
18. I would also like to thank all our recipients' family members. Thank you for taking the time to come and support your family members and loved ones. You have been an invaluable source of support for our officers, throughout their long hours and hard work for the Home Team. We thank you for standing by them, as they work to keep Singapore safe and secure.