Ministry of Home Affairs’ National Day Awards 2021 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 24 February 2022

Home Team colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1.    Good afternoon.

2.    We come together today to pay tribute to the work of our Home Team officers.

Challenges for the Home Team


3.    In the last two years, we have dealt with COVID-19 and I have spoken about that a number of times.

4.    This year, we are dealing with a new variant that is spreading even more quickly, but thankfully with less intensity. Our officers have had to continue helping in the fight against COVID-19 while doing their usual work.

Keeping Singapore Safe and Secure

5.    Each year, I usually share with you the latest results from our public perception surveys on how Singaporeans view the Home Team.

6.    The reason is simple – our work as Home Team officers depends on public trust. That is key as to whether the Home Team can effectively do its work.

7.    I have spoken in the past about how a minority try and de-legitimise our agencies, try and undermine trust in the Home Team, and how we deal with it. So far, we have dealt with it successfully. 

8.    We will have more difficulty maintaining law and order without the support of Singaporeans. So, it’s very heartening that year after year, we see strong public trust. 

9.    In our latest survey, 2021 - over 9 in 10 said, we are fulfilling our mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure. That’s more than 90%. They said they trust Home Team officers to do their duties fairly, professionally, and with integrity.

10.   Singaporeans hold the Home Team in high regard. The Home Team has worked hard to earn this trust. 

11.   You have to constantly look to improve, transform, innovate. And we hold ourselves to high standards of integrity and operational and service excellence. And we work closely with our stakeholders, including other agencies and the community.  

12.   Last year, The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index ranked Singapore first in East Asia on “Order and Security”. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Singapore amongst the top three safest cities in the world. We are here because of our committed, dedicated officers - all of you.

13.   And strong leadership at the top is vital. So, if you look at it, strong leadership at the top and good officers throughout the organisation, that is why the Home Team is where it is today. 

Recognising Outstanding Service

14.   Every year, I refer to some officers as examples to illustrate these points.

Transformation and Innovation

15.   So, if you look at Transformation and Innovation, let me first speak about two officers who drove change, solved issues on the ground.

16.   Ms Foong Kah Yam. She is part of HTX’s Corrections and Narcotics team. She was part of the CNB’s efforts to go digital and develop its next case management system called IDEAS II. 

17.   IDEAS II digitalises CNB’s processes for investigation and its interactions with other partner agencies. IDEAS II has helped to improve the efficiency and operational capabilities of CNB. Kah Yam will be receiving the Commendation Medal today.

18.   Next, Kwek Boon Siang. He is with the Prisons Psychological Services Branch. He has also been awarded the Commendation Medal.

19.   Boon Siang led a project team to improve community-based programmes for offenders with a history of violent offences.

20.   The team implemented tele-interview screening to better identify those at risk of engaging in family violence, and violence against vulnerable persons. It introduced a faster referral process to social service agencies.

21.   Boon Siang also started an open group psychology-based correctional programme for such offenders. Now as a result, more offenders are willing to attend, fewer drop out, and it has become a prototype for other rehab programmes.

22.   He also developed a new screening and treatment framework for sexual offenders with shorter sentences. So, the number of sexual offenders who can get treatment while they are in prison can double, shows how much ground-up innovation can help organisations do better and make a real difference to people’s lives.  

Operational and Service Excellence

23.   Next, Operational and Service Excellence. Our frontline and staff unit leaders, and their commitment to doing their best day in, day out is important for operational, service excellence.

24.   So, if you take LTA Adeline Phang. She is an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) OIC, First Division, SCDF. She will receive the Efficiency Medal for diligent, dedicated leadership. 

25.   She introduced a comprehensive induction programme, helps fresh officers from the academy get used to life on the frontline. All 100 officers under her achieved a 100% passing rate in annual EMS certification tests.  

26.   If you look at Superintendent Juliana Binte Saruwan, she is with ICA’s Visitor Services Centre. She will get the Commendation Medal.

27.   She’s the head of the team dealing with appeals. Juliana and of course, ICA had to deal with border restrictions, many appeals by people overseas looking to enter Singapore.  

28.   So, travel restrictions were first imposed in March 2020. Juliana led her team - rolled out new online processes, made case processing much faster.

29.   This included an easy-to-use online form, improved how ICA gets its essential information from travellers, and an e-booking module automates entry approval letters. 

30.   She is again an example of how leaders on the ground can drive operational excellence.  

31.   A third example is DSP Chong Wei Tong. He is Head, Intelligence, Public Transport Security Command. 

32.   Under his leadership, more crimes in Public Transport Nodes were solved in 2020 compared to the previous year.

33.   He has built a stronger relationship with public transport operators. And as a result, CCTV viewings and screenings are now expedited. In the past, routine requests used to take 1 month, now it takes 5 days. 

34.   During the pandemic, his unit supported Ministry of Health’s contact tracing teams in tracing clusters at public transport nodes. They’ve dealt with more than 2,000 requests for assistance.

35.   Today, he will get a Commendation Medal in recognition of his leadership and operational excellence, over three decades of service. 

Building Partnerships

36.   Strong collaboration and engagement with our stakeholders is key to building trust.

37.   For many members of the public, how they see the Home Team is based on their interactions with our ground officers.

38.   So, having good officers on the ground is critical to maintaining public trust.  

39.   I would like to highlight one example - SSI Che Yahya Bin Mohd Bujang. He is a community engagement officer in CNB.

40.   He will receive the Efficiency Medal today. He has shown consistent dedication to his task, building strong rapport within CNB and the Malay-Muslim community.  

41.   He is also the officer responsible for the Dadah Itu Haram outreach and volunteer management. He has worked hard to ensure that volunteers are engaged, and their well-being is taken care of. 

42.   In 2019, Yahya and his team oversaw the smooth distribution of over 50,000 campaign collaterals to mosques and barbershops during Ramadan. Small unit, big achievement. 

43.   And during the Circuit Breaker, he ensured the volunteers received boxes of dates during Ramadan as a token of appreciation.

44.   It’s officers like SSI Yahya who leave the community with a positive impression.  

Service and Dedication

45.   Finally, I want to thank the officers receiving the Long Service Medal for their many years of dedicated service to the Home Team and to the country.

46.   These officers have spent at least 25 years in the public service.

47.   They have helped to uphold our high standards of governance and the Ministry’s core values.  

48.   One of them is Madam Najimunnisa Binte Shahabuddin. She is PA to the Chief Executive and Chairman of YRSG. Nisa joined the then-SCORE in 1995. She joined as a telephone operator, made her way up before becoming a Personal Assistant. She has served 8 principals in the last 19 years.

49.   And during the pandemic, she had to learn new skills because meetings became virtual.

50.   A special mention too for the 11 NSmen and VSCs from the Police who are also receiving Long Service Medals for 25 years of service.  

51.   We are very fortunate to have dedicated NS officers and volunteers who believe in our mission and are prepared to devote their personal time to the cause, year in, year out.  


52.   The officers I mentioned earlier are amongst 249 officers receiving the Commendation Medal or Efficiency Medal, and amongst 643 recipients of the Long Service Medal. 

53.   Congratulations. And on behalf of all Singaporeans, a big thank you.