Opening Ceremony Of Interpol World 2019 - Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs

Published: 02 July 2019

Mr Kim Jong Yang, President of INTERPOL 

Mr Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of INTERPOL

Distinguished Guests

Colleagues and friends


1. Good morning, and a very warm welcome. Especially to all our overseas guests, I believe by now, you know that in Singapore, you can only get a very warm welcome. Thank you for inviting me to join you for INTERPOL World 2019.


2. This is the third edition of your conference, and the level of interest remains high. Law enforcement agencies and government bodies are here.This includes the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs as a supporting partner to the INTERPOL, and to this conference in particular. So too are academia, security professionals, industry partners and technology solutions providers.


3. What is bringing us together? It is essentially new challenges that could disrupt law and order across the globe. They pose threats to all of our societies.


4. Examples include Deepfakes and the Darknet.The Internet of Things can also be mis-used to wreak havoc on a massive scale.


5. Crime-fighting is reaching unprecedented levels of complexity. We need new strategies to protect our people.


6. INTERPOL World 2019 is therefore a very useful platform.To find the right answers, we must ask the right questions. To ask the right questions, we must understand the full nature of our problems. This is why information sharing is crucial.


7. It is also why INTERPOL’s commitment to international collaboration is critical. In particular, we welcome the thought leadership of the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in pointing out strategic directions for future challenges and opportunities in policing.


Complex Security Environment


8. Three developments are re-shaping the security landscapes in all of our countries.


9. The first is increasing global connectivity.


10. Let me just point out the challenges in air transportation alone, in relation to global connectivity. In 2018, air travel involved more than 4.3 billion passengers. And I’m not even looking at cargo. In another two decades, the number could well double.


11. A more connected world brings about better economic opportunities for people and businesses.But what will this mean for border security and transnational crime?


12. On its busiest day, Changi International Airport already handles more than 220,000 passengers. 220,000 passengers in one day. When that swells to half a million, how do we manage the heightened security risks and still provide the experience of a world-class air hub?Must we give up one for the other?


13. Technology is another driving force. Unfortunately, it is being mis-used to steal data, incapacitate systems, spread false information, and evoke negative sentiments against others.


14. Good things are being used for bad aims. Cybercrime is the new epidemic that demands new treatment protocols. Can we bring it under control?


15. But perhaps the most worrying development is the polarisation in societies. It comes in many forms.


16. In fact, there’s nothing new about divergent views on politics and religion. But where extremists could only in the past operate at the margins, they now have tools of mass propagation at very low cost.


17. The result is self-radicalization, a previously unheard of phenomenon. In this new landscape, otherwise ordinary citizens can become explosive nodes of destruction, often without anyone noticing.How do we prevent this?




18. In each of our societies, we must redouble efforts to moderate polarization and its destructive effects. Divisiveness is hard to overcome.Cohesion is not built overnight, nor easily sustained. They take time and great effort. And they are absolutely necessary for peaceful societies.


19. At the same time, our arsenal needs not just incremental upgrades but major reinforcements. Even in peaceful societies, crime lurks. Given opportunity, crime multiplies.


20. So, policing needs to get better. Three areas of innovation in international crime-fighting hold promise, and they are biometrics, data analytics, and digital forensics.


21. Let me start with biometrics.


22. In Singapore and several other airports, trials are being conducted for contactless immigration clearance systems. They use a combination of iris and facial recognition to enhance operational efficiency and security integrity at the borders.


23. Within borders, biometrics has the potential to rapidly solve crime; with facial recognition technology being able to scan through thousands of video footages to identify the culprit. So that is one area of innovation that could help our work.


24. Next, data analytics.


25. Digitalization is allowing police agencies around the world to obtain enormous amounts of data. One can argue about the quality of the data, but the amount of data that can be collected is enormous. However, the data is useless without insight, and we only get insight with strong processing capabilities.


26. If we can make use of the data and improve sense-making, then predictive policing can become a reality, much as predictive maintenance helps to avoid breakdowns of critical infrastructure.


27. For example, in the Netherlands, the Dutch police are working on the City Pulse Project.A network of sensors measures noise levels and even emotional tones in people’s voices.Can it trigger when police should proactively intervene to moderate crime risks? The test is ongoing. If it works, police resources can be better targeted.


28. Third, forensics must also make a giant leap into the digital frontier.


29. Police now need the capability to extract and analyse digital evidence from the latest Internet of Things (IOT) devices, among others. We will need R&D into new investigative tools and techniques. Otherwise, criminals will get ahead in their attempts to mask or destroy digital evidence and hide their identities. A point that Secretary General also talked about. The criminals are also ahead in the game, because there is great value in them being able to exploit such loopholes in our capabilities.


30. So, given the importance of innovation in policing, the Singapore MHA has made it a priority to reinforce our science and technology capabilities.


31. New technologies allow us to introduce concepts of operations which are more effective and efficient. For example,


i.The Singapore Police Force has been exploring the use of autonomous technology (e.g., UAVs, and robots) to support officers in incident response and projecting presence.

ii.This year, SPF will start the trial of the Sky Aerial Response Command or Sky ARC, to improve the situational awareness of responding forces for enhanced decision-making and operational response. The UAV may well be the first police resource to arrive at the scene – this a new concept of operations that we should be prepared for.


32. Singapore is also in the process of establishing a new Home Team Science and Technology Agency.We look forward to being a part of a vibrant innovation ecosystem, that INTERPOL and IGCI in particular are also plugged into.


Nexus with International Collaboration

33, I cannot over-emphasize the importance and value of this ecosystem.Crime and terrorism are increasingly borderless and inventive.


34. If we are to win this fight, we must support each other and become better together. Among other things, this would involve law enforcement agencies sharing information much more quickly and pooling resources to coordinate transnational responses.


35. However, this is not always the case, even if we have a shared commitment to law and order. We must therefore try to continue to nurture an ecosystem where each of us grows in competence and are also mutually reinforcing each other for the greater good. As the President said, build bridges - let there be an intensive, deep network of bridges that we can all cross when we need.


36. INTERPOL, as the established global policing organisation, is well placed to promote and strengthen such an ecosystem. Singapore believes we all have a vested interest in it, and we actively partner the IGCI to bring it about.


37. As the ASEAN Voluntary Lead Shepherd for Cybercrime, Singapore has partnered INTERPOL and Japan since 2016 to spearhead the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Development Project.


38. In addition, the ASEAN Cyber Capability Desk (or ASEAN Desk for short) within the IGCI was officially launched in July 2018. Currently staffed by seconded officers from Brunei and Singapore, the Desk drives ASEAN-centric operations to build capacity and enhance threat-related intelligence on cybercrime within ASEAN.


39. Singapore also supports the INTERPOL’s Regional Counter-Terrorism Node initiative, or RCTN for short. We have seconded an officer to the RCTN Asia and South Pacific - housed in the IGCI. We look forward to more secondments from the region, and support from our strategic partners to fund and resource this initiative.


40. Colleagues and friends, each of us on our own, will only learn so much and progress so far.When we share notes and learn with each other, we can do so much more.


41. Through the INTERPOL Innovation Centre, the global policing community can access strong and tightly knitted networks of law enforcement professionals, in both the public and private sectors. It deserves our continued strong support to weave an even more comprehensive network.If nothing else, this will serve our own interests to become more capable in dealing with crime and terrorism.




42. In conclusion, INTERPOL World 2019 is an important platform to explore innovation and collaboration in the global policing and security eco-system. Together, regionally and internationally, we can learn with each other, and collaborate to make a safer world, safer homes for our citizens, and a more secure future for all.


43. I wish everyone a fruitful conference. Thank you.


Managing Security Threats