Published: 06 November 2016
Dear Members of the Home Team Connection,
Ladies and gentlemen,
A very good afternoon to every single one of you.
1. We are here to recognise a very special group of people. We call you the "Home Team Connection". You serve in our Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees. 38 such groupings and associations covering a very wide range of areas, wide spectrum dealing with governance, reviews, appeals, public outreach and many others.
2. In the nature of things, if you take our appeal boards for example, people's liberty is in your hands. Therefore, you are performing an invaluable service to the people of Singapore, particularly those who have fallen through the cracks. Wherever you take, the prisons, reviews, board of visitors, Yellow Ribbon, in every area, it's lives of people. And that's a task that cannot be performed by the Ministry alone. You're an essential part of how we help Singapore.
3. And we are happy that today we have more than 200 of you joining us.
Contributions of the Home Team Connection
4. The name itself, "Home Team Connection" reflects, and it was intended to reflect, the critical role that each one of you play. You serve as "connectors", allowing us to build bridges across the different communities. Not just racial or religious communities, but different sub-communities who live in Singapore. You also serve as resource persons, allowing us to tap on to your collective wisdom, experience, knowledge, expertise. And each of you shoulder important responsibilities.
5. Professionally, you were chosen because we believe you can contribute significantly, and you have a certain standing in the community so when you say this is right or this is wrong, that will carry weight. You sacrifice your personal time, responding to this call; contributing in your area of expertise or area of interest; providing us with your insights, perspectives; and giving us the balance to make the right decisions.
6. All of this is only possible because you are dedicated, and you identify with the vision and mission of the Home Team, and you want to play a part not only in making Singapore a safer place, but also in making sure that the people who are, for one reason or another, jailed or detained or in some way have to be dealt with by us, that they are treated fairly, and in a way their life is better.
7. It is our honour, and my Ministry's honour and privilege to be able to have you with us. This lunch is a very small gesture in that respect.
Long Service Award
8. Later on, we will be presenting Long Service Awards for a number of very deserving individuals. Everyone is deserving, Long Service simply recognises the number of years which that dedication has been put through.
9. The criteria this year has been revised for the Long Service Award. Measuring the years of service, we will now consider contributions across the different Boards, Councils and Committees, instead of what we used to do in the past which is to look at each Committee in isolation. And that I think will help us better recognise your contributions to the Home Team.
10. Everyone is special, but it's useful to highlight one or two people that serves as a kind of beacon to the work that everyone does.
11. So if you take Mr Lim Soo Peng, he has been a member of the Board of Visiting Justices and Board of Inspection since 1966, one year after Singapore gained independence. He has also served as a member of the Drug Rehabilitation Centres Review Committee from 1991 to 2015, a long time. Beyond Home Affairs, he has also served in many other contexts, many other Ministries. We will present Mr Lim with a Long Service Award, for his service over 50 years. Let's give him a round of applause.
12. I was told that this is the very first time we are giving the Long Service Award for 50 years of service. To Mr Lim, to all our recipients, congratulations, we are honoured, we are privileged and we thank you for the partnership and the support.
13. Now, in the current climate, our partnership is all the more important as we face the threat of terrorism and extremism. In September this year, our Prime Minister launched SGSecure: our national movement to unite the community against terrorism and to work hand in hand with our security forces and with the Ministry.
14. SGSecure will require every single Singaporean including every one of you to stay alert, to stay united, and to stay strong. We may or may not be able to avert an attack, but Singapore will be judged by how we respond should there be an attack, or, should an attack occur, the day after the attack, how do we respond? Do we hold our heads high as a community, come back together without pointing fingers, do we rebound with energy, vibrancy and determination? If we can do that, then we will win. If we dissolve into mutual recriminations and sourness, then the terrorists win.
15. So I will ask each one of you to help play a part in SGSecure:
16. Together, we will stand strong and united in the face of terrorism, we will not be defeated. Singapore is an oasis of peace and calm and religious tolerance, and we have to maintain that. Every single one of us has a role to play in that.
17. On that note, thank you and let's work together.