Police Community Roadshow 2023 – Speech by Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Social and Family Development

Published: 24 June 2023

SPF Officers and Volunteers,

Grassroots Leaders,

School Representatives,

Residents of Toa Payoh and Members of the Community,

1.   A very good afternoon to everyone. I am pleased to join you here at Toa Payoh HDB Hub, for the second stop of the Police Community Roadshow 2023. We can see amongst us so many people. We can tell that this is an event that is warmly welcomed by everyone in the community. 

2.   The Police Community Roadshow is organised by the Singapore Police Force to foster stronger ties with the community and showcase the Singapore Police Force’s ongoing efforts to enhance its crime-fighting capabilities.

Rallying Everyone to ACT Against Scams

3.   A challenge that is familiar to everyone is the scourge of scams. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a war against scams. In 2022, Singapore saw over 30,000 scam cases, representing an increase of about one-third over 2021. More than $660 million of hard-earned savings belonging to honest and hardworking people were lost to scammers. We have to do something about it collectively. 

4.   Anyone can be a target of scams. This means that to defend against scams, each and every one of us must be vigilant and discerning, and have the community reinforce this message. In January, we launched an anti-scam campaign with the tagline ‘I can ACT against scams’. Let me elaborate on what “ACT” stands for.

5.   The first letter ‘A’ in “ACT” stands for Adding security features, such as the ScamShield app on your mobile devices, and multi-factor authentication for personal accounts. ScamShield protects you by blocking calls from known scam numbers and detecting potential scam SMSes. It also has a function for users to report suspected scam calls and messages. This helps us protect each other. Please download the ScamShield app, to protect yourselves and to protect your loved ones. Please report scam phone calls and scam messages when you come across them. The more you report, the safer we all are. We must rely on each other in this fight against scams. 

6.   As a recent example where ‘Add’ would be useful, we see that there has been a recent spate of scams enabled by malware. What has happened? Victims have unknowingly downloaded malware into their mobile devices, resulting in losses from victims’ CPF accounts and bank accounts. Like I said before, we are losing money to scammers. Money that belongs to honest, trusting Singaporeans. When you download malware, you unfortunately become a victim to potential perpetrators of scams. So, it is a good practice to reject persistent pop-ups that request access to your device’s hardware and data. Please add anti-virus and anti-malware applications to your mobile device.

7.   The next letter in ACT, ‘C’, stands for Checking for scam signs and with official sources. Scam signs may appear in the form of unsolicited calls or messages asking for your details such as one’s NRIC, SingPass and One-Time Password or OTP. Please do not provide these details to anyone who randomly calls you on your mobile device. When in doubt, always check and verify with official sources, such as our ScamAlert Website and the anti-scam helpline. If someone calls you and pretends to be someone from a bank, please take the additional step to verify with the bank by calling up the bank’s hotline. Do not trust just anyone who calls you and tells you that they are calling from a bank.

8.   ‘T’ in ACT stands for Telling authorities, families and friends about scams. Providing the authorities with timely and valuable information will help in our fight against scams. This will help us to trace where the monies are going to. This will help us to, in a very quick manner, freeze bank accounts and prevent the monies from leaving Singapore. 

Scam Public Education Office (SPEO)

9.   I would now like to share that the Singapore Police Force have set up the Scam Public Education Office (SPEO) to drive our anti-scam outreach. We have had many conversations with youths, working adults, and seniors, because no one is completely protected from scams. In the next few months, we will be engaging even more stakeholders, and this will include migrant workers as well.

10.   The Scam Public Education Office will collaborate with the National Crime Prevention Council to create and curate anti-scam educational content for the public. We will partner private sector and community agencies to tailor anti-scam material for different segments of society.

Anti-Scam Student Champions

11.   Now, I would like to congratulate and thank our Anti-Scam Student Champions (ASSC). Today, we will be celebrating the successes of the Anti-Scam Student Champions, who embody the spirit of ‘T’, that is, telling others about scams. Our Anti-Scam Student Champions – they have been participating in this programme since 2020 and we have seen the involvement of over 200 Secondary 2 students in schools located within Tanglin Division. Our participants have conducted research on scam trends and have participated in a video competition to share their findings and raise awareness of scams. Thereafter, they are appointed as anti-scam champions, who will help to spread anti-scam messages to their families and friends.

12.   I want to share one such success story with everyone. Kaeley, an anti-scam champion from Guangyang Secondary School, used what she learnt through the programme to prevent her aunt from falling for an online purchase scam. Kaeley is here with us today, along with her team, as one of the winners for ASSC 2022.

13.   We are very proud of the ASSC participants for contributing to our collective defence against scams. As the ASSC has been so well-received, the Police are exploring extending future editions to schools beyond Tanglin Division, to spread its impact further. Scams, unfortunately, will continue to evolve and be aided by technology to scale and reach more victims. We will have to work very hard together to combat the scourge of scams. And we will have to partner our youths and our students, because they are equipped with the skills of the future to strengthen our fight against scams. 

Highlights of Police Community Roadshow 2023

14.   The Police has prepared a wide range of activities and performances for the Police Community Roadshow here at Toa Payoh HDB Hub. As we have seen, there has been a performance by the Police Women’s Band. We will also have other performances, such as by the Police K-9 unit, demonstrations by the Special Operations Command, and an investigation-based dark room, which is exclusive to this roadshow. 

15.   For the younger ones, they can have fun at the ‘Mataverse’ Roblox booth, where they will experience a day in the life of a Police Officer in the Roblox metaverse.

16.   The Police need to work hand-in-hand with all of you to help safeguard Singapore. Friends who are interested in joining the mission to keep Singapore safe and secure, can visit our booths to find out more about policing and the various career and volunteering opportunities that are available.

17.   Today is also a good opportunity to say hello to our friendly neighbourhood police officers and get to know them better over a cup of coffee or tea at the ‘Coffee with a Cop’ corner.

Conclusion: Appreciation for Police Officers and Community Partners

18.   Finally, I would like to thank our Police officers for working tirelessly around the clock so that we can all sleep soundly at night. Also, to all our partners and volunteers, thank you for helping to keep Singapore safe and secure. Thank you very much.