Minister’s Awards Presentation Ceremony 2018 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law
Published: 24 September 2018
Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
A very good afternoon to all of you.
Today, we will recognise more than 400 Home Team officers for your professionalism, dedication and achievements in safeguarding Singapore. The awards will recognise collaboration across the Home Team; outstanding projects and operations; excellence in service delivery; and innovation, down at the frontline as well as behind the scenes.
It is appropriate that I share a few examples.
In terms of frontline, in January this year, a few CNB officers were following a drug syndicate. They busted it and seized almost 9kg of heroin. That is the single largest amount of heroin seized in recent times - a street value of more than $650,000.That would have fed 1,000 addicts for one whole month and of course, untold damage to the lives of their families.
In July of last year, ICA broke up a syndicate that was organising marriages of convenience. Officers received a series of appeals against arrests of female foreign nationals at entertainment outlets for a variety of employment-related offences. The so-called husbands wrote in appeals and they claimed that their wives were simply visiting these places. But all the appeals had similar writing style. ICA was good enough and sharp enough to pick it up and to notice it. They investigated and uncovered the syndicate - more than ten people were arrested.
Last year in July, a PIE viaduct at Upper Changi Road collapsed. 11 workers were working on it. SCDF moved in quickly for an urgent complex search and rescue operation. They worked through the night. It was a dangerous situation because a wrong move would have endangered the rescuers and those who were trapped. At the same time, time was of the essence. It was the right balance between safety and speed. Our officers did admirably. They accounted for all 11 workers within about three hours. Extremely well done.
Every successful operation like this is the result of days of planning and huge amount of training. And that brings us to Exercise Northstar X (“10”), a multi-agency counter-terrorism exercise which was conducted last year. It involved more than 600 personnel and 100 volunteers. Phase 1 was led by SPF. It tested the whole-of-government response to the scenario of terror attacks in Changi Airport and our ability to neutralise it, provide emergency rescue, and also how we deal with it and shore up public confidence. Phase 2 was led by SCDF, which brought in grassroots leaders, students and volunteers to deal with the consequences of a successful attack. For the first time, 200 operationally-ready NSmen took part, helping with casualty rescue. That was also to bring across to them as well as to the rest of Singapore, the importance of NSmen in these sort of situations.
Not all operations are of this nature, but they are equally important and commendable. In October last year, Prisons moved Changi Women’s Prison into a new facility. The key thing is, there were no incidents, it was smooth – which is not easy in these circumstances. Prisons planned and prepared well in advance not just for the physical move, but they also reviewed work processes because of the new facility and the new technologies, and familiarised staff with them.So, smooth operations were ensured.
Behind the Scenes Heroes
There were many other heroes that worked behind the scenes. They are not in the frontline, but they helped us develop capabilities and improve our services, to make the entire Home Team more effective and bring about a positive impact on Singaporeans as a whole.
For example, the Next Generation Reporting Centre - a project by OCSTO and CNB - automated the manual urine-taking process for drug suspects. The proof-of-concept project is the first of its kind in the world. It will take away some of the routine and drudgery, and also make the process more robust, reliable and efficient. In the context of our operating and manpower challenges, that is the way to go. It was a very important project.
There are many more examples of this. If you look at individual officers, several will be receiving excellence awards today - among them, SSGT Farhan. There were three young children locked in a flat. There was a call, he went. Normally, you go in, you take care of them and come out. But he realised that there was something more than children locked in a flat and he tried to understand what had caused it. This is not normal or routine, because there have been many cases where that second step or third step is not taken. But this young officer went beyond and uncovered a serious case of spousal abuse and neglect. He took it upon himself to refer the family to the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Family Service Centre. His intervention protected both the wife and the three children. It made a big difference to their lives. I think that officer needs to be commended and every officer of ours who goes beyond the call of duty - there are many who do that - need to be commended.
Today, I can only mention a few examples in this speech. But of course, there are so many others - recognised and unrecognised. We appreciate what you do, and when you go beyond the call of duty, that matters to Singaporeans ultimately.
The projects and operations which are well-executed, the service that is well done, contribute to how Singaporeans look at the Home Team, and they contribute to how Singaporeans feel about their own safety and security.
I have talked about this in the context of trust. Our people have confidence, and they must have confidence not just in the capabilities of the Home Team, but also in the professionalism and the fairness with which our officers discharge their duties. That will then help to anchor the wider trust in the criminal justice system, in the Police force, our uniformed forces, SCDF, Prisons, CNB, the entire machinery, and ultimately Singapore itself.
Let me end by congratulating all the teams and the officers once again. Well done!
 A total of 8.8kg of heroin, 460g of methamphetamine (Ice) and 60 Erimin-5 tablets were seized.