Published: 18 November 2017
Friends and Colleagues from the Home Team and Home Team Connection,
A very good afternoon to all of you.
Introduction – Home Team Connection
1. We get together every year to pay tribute to a very important group of partners – the "Home Team Connection" Members. You give your time and expertise to help us serve on Home Team Boards, our councils and our committees.
2. You make very wide-ranging contributions in a variety of areas. You help us in governance, you review detention cases, you handle appeals, you help us to do public outreach and in so many other ways.
3. Over time, as we find that this is really invaluable for us, we have set up more committees and boards, and welcomed new members. Last year we set up the Board of Visitors to SPF & SCDF Detention Barracks. In August of this year, we formed the
Public Entertainment Appeal Board. That Board evaluates appeals from public entertainment establishments, against the rejection of their licence applications, or cancellation of their licences. People spend a lot of money and they put up entertainment outlets. From their perspective, Police actions are wrong, but from our perspective, it's a law and order question, and we need the assistance from our volunteers on these boards. They can look at it independently and evaluate it also from a private sector perspective. So it's extremely helpful. It gives us a sense that what we are doing is right; and it helps us right what we do wrong. We value this - every one of you, your perspectives and your insights, which guide and shape the Home Team's decisions.
4. Many of you in your own right are influencers and persons of standing in the community, and what you say matters. You have been positive advocates for us, and you have helped tremendously in building up public confidence, not just in the work that you do in keeping us within bounds, helping us discharge our duties properly, but also in projecting the face of the Home Team to the community.
5. All these contributions are made over and well beyond your day to day work and your other responsibilities. Many of you wear multiple hats. It is therefore our privilege that you have chosen to serve with us. And this lunch is just a very small gesture to thank you.
Strengthening Partnerships with the Community
6. Why is all of this necessary? There are many aspects, it's not possible to go through all of them. Let's take one aspect, how safe are we. The Economist Intelligence Unit recently published a Safe Cities Index 2017. The Index is published once every two years. There are two categories that are relevant for the Home Team.
7. First, the way people view their personal security – how they view how safe they are or how secure they are. It measures the risk to the people in a city from crime, violence and other threats. We are ranked number one on that list. And that was our rank in 2015 and we have maintained our rank in 2017.
8. Second, we look at infrastructure security. It seeks to look at infrastructure and how vulnerable it is to attacks, terrorism and so on. Our ranking improved – we were ranked seventh in 2015, this year we are number one.
9. If you move to something else, how our own people view their safety. The Public Perception Survey conducted by the Police last year showed that 92% rated general safety and security in Singapore as either "good" or "very good", more than 9 out of 10 people. 93% felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhood at night. These are figures you wouldn't find in any place in the world.
10. We could not have achieved it by ourselves. It has been achieved with the hard work of the Home Team agencies – Police, SCDF, Prisons, others. It's been achieved by our partnership with our Home Team Connection members. It's been achieved with our very strong community outreach. A number of different factors have come together to create both this sense of security and sense of confidence in the Home Team. It is only as good as our last success. We have to continue to work very hard just to maintain where we are.
11. And in that context, there are significant challenges. Almost all of you will know the increasing threat of terrorism. There continues to be attacks all around the world. The tempo has in fact been increasing and the regional situation is worrying.
12. So we launched SGSecure last year. There has been good progress so far. Many more Singaporeans now understand the haste and have begun to think about the threat of terrorism. And we are identifying domains, neighbourhoods, schools, business places, and we are trying to bring across the message of the threat and what you can do. Most importantly - what you can do. How do you prepare yourself? How do you react if you are caught in a situation like that? If there is an attack, be safe yourself and, if safe to do so, how you can help someone? And going beyond that, how you can mobilise the community; how do you help dispel rumours; how do you develop psychological resilience of the community? So we have moved from awareness to preparedness - for everyone to pick up the skills, protect themselves, learn basic first aid.
13. Another important and related area is of course religious and racial harmony. We have spoken about this in many places, debated in Parliament. This is extremely important and this is why we have the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony in Singapore, which is maintained by a framework of tough laws but also a lot of community outreach. People coming together, accepting and understanding the need to accept each other and tolerate each other, and building a voice across the community. For which all of you also play a key role. You look around, we are multi-racial and multi-religious, and this is representative of Singapore. And believing that it is a fundamental core value that you all ought to protect. That goes hand in hand in reducing the threat of terrorism.
14. If there is a terrorist threat, how do we respond the day after? Do we respond by being strong and resilient, by being cohesive and responding as a community; or do we respond by increased Islamophobia and pointing fingers with deep divisions within our community? The work cannot start after the attack. The work has got to start much earlier. This work is being done for over 50 years, it has just added new meaning after Paris in 2015.
15. Drugs are another area of concern. We have seen an increase in the trend on a softer stance on drugs. Because of the internet and social media, young people in Singapore have begun to think that it cannot be as bad as we are making it out to be, that social drugs are okay. It is a very sexy line, it is a very seductive line, often sold by pharmaceutical companies, which have been pushing very strongly for legalisation across the world.
16. CNB is working very hard, because they draw a clear line - zero tolerance. We are not into harm reduction; we are into complete, no tolerance to drugs. CNB is working with the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) to counter this and present a different point of view, and bring that point to countries internationally. At the same time as we do that, we also have to do much more to rehabilitate both non-drug offenders and drug offenders. A lot of work is being done there by Prisons, by CNB, by the rest of the Home Team, and many of you help us with that as well.
17. The CARE Network partners that we have are doing very important work – ISCOS, SCORE, SACA, SANA, just to name a few. I ask that you continue to help us, your help is absolutely essential for us in your different capacities – build up the preparedness in the community, to immunise and inoculate ourselves in the event of a terror attack; spread messages of racial and religious harmony; raise awareness of the harm that drugs can bring, the need for tolerance, the need for a safer and secure country; keeping our roads accident-free, a variety of things.
Long Service Award Recipients
18. Many of you have dedicated years of service to the safety and security of Singapore. We are very honoured and privileged to be presenting Long Service Awards to you.
19. As an illustration, let me identify two of the recipients, whose work will give you a perspective of what people do.
Mr Peter Sim
20. Mr Peter Sim joined the Criminal Law Advisory Committee (CLAC) in 1987. He was appointed Alternate Chairman of the Hearing Committee in 2002, and then Chairman since 2008.
21. He has a busy work schedule, but he has been actively helping us in CLAC – examining the evidence in each case, ensuring that the investigations have been proper and thorough and back up the recommendations, ensuring they are within the framework that we have set up, and that each case is given a fair hearing. You can be conscientious and do it properly, or you can just move it along. But our people are conscientious, because lives and liberty are at stake.
22. Today, Mr Sim will receive the Long Service Award for 30 years of dedicated service.
Mr Tan Kian Hoon
23. Then we have Kian Hoon, who joined the National Crime Prevention Council in 1997, and was appointed Chairman 15 years ago in 2002.
24. Kian Hoon has led the Council in many areas. He launched the Crime Prevention Ambassadors Programme, introduced the Project "X-Ah-Long" hotline in response to a rise in loan shark activities; he helped developed 'Cyberonia', which is an internet game to teach students about cybersecurity.
25. Kian Hoon also serves as a member of the Board of Visiting Justices & Board of Inspection and the Institutional Discipline Advisory Committee. This afternoon, he will receive the Long Service Award for 20 years of dedication to the Home Team.
26. To all our award recipients, congratulations, and thank you. The Home Team relies heavily on your help. You are crucial to the success of the Home Team and ultimately for Singapore. So we thank each one of you for your partnership, for your dedication, for your commitment. I look forward to catching up with you later after the ceremony.
27. Thank you.