Published: 30 November 2018
Mr Robert Wiener
Association of Certified Security Agencies (ACSA)
Mr Raj Joshua Thomas
President, Security Association Singapore (SAS)
Mr Zainal Sapari
Assistant Secretary General, NTUC
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Very good evening to all of you. Thank you for inviting me here to this inaugural annual gala. I am very pleased to be here because one of my ministries has a very close association with the industry and we are working very closely with you.
2. It is good to know that the two associations are coming together - first time that they have come together for this Gala dinner, and it means a lot to us as well because we are trying to work in partnership with the security industry to transform the entire industry and if we get it right, it is going to benefit the agencies and the security officers. That is our ultimate goal. Of course there is one big part which is not here, which are the buyers of services, but if the Government comes in and pushes and sets the standards, then I think many things can change, and we are determined to do that.
3. So I encourage you to continue to work closely together. It was very good to hear both your Presidents speak about the new ways in which the associations will support the agencies, collaboration, and how they work closely with the labour movement and the Government. Because we all have the same objective, and if we can do that, it will go a long way.
4. Tonight, I want to take a step back and share my views on the important role that the security industry plays to keep Singapore safe and secure. That’s a part that’s not often understood - the larger safety and security context and how the industry can transform to meet the future challenges.
II. THREAT OF TERRORISM REMAINS HIGH
5. First, we don’t talk too frequently about it but the threat of terrorism remains as a clear and present danger and is likely to remain so, for as far as we can see, for the foreseeable future.
6. ISIS has lost territory in the Middle East, but the foreign fighters there will return and many of them are from this region, and they will come back. Regional militant groups will also gear themselves up. Between October and November this year, Malaysian Police detained 20 persons for terror-related activities. A number of them had links to regional militant groups – Abu-Sayyaf, Al-Qaeda.
7. In Singapore, over the last two years, the numbers of people we have detained, Singaporeans, have gone up quite significantly.
8. And what is worrying from a security perspective is that many of these self-radicalised individuals, whom we call “clean-skins”, they do not have prior security records. So they strike alone, they use ordinary objects – knives and vehicles. This month, in Melbourne CBD, a terrorist set his car on fire and stabbed three people. How do you stop it? Which agency in the world can stop it? So these attacks are very difficult to detect and they are very difficult to prevent.
III. ENHANCING COUNTER-TERRORISM CAPABILITIES TO DEAL WITH TERRORIST THREATS
9. My ministry (Home Affairs) takes these threats very seriously. So we have enhanced our counter-terrorism capabilities.
10. First, we have introduced new laws, we have brought in the Infrastructure Protection Act, we have also amended the Public Order Act, so this allows us to protect critical infrastructure, allows us to tell the developers what security features to put in. In the Public Order Act, the amendments allow us to dictate what kind of security requirements there are for mass events. More business for you, higher cost for the organisers, but there is no choice. If the event has 10,000 people, then they have a higher rate of security. So the legal requirements have been put in.
11. Second, the Police Force, emergency response, your security officers, there are things we can do, but ultimately every Singaporean has to be responsible for himself. What happens when they are under attack? What happens if they are injured? What happens if someone else is injured? What do you do?
12. So we launched a national movement – SGSecure movement. We go and knock on every door, we have knocked on about 350,000 doors, and we intend to cover the entire Singapore, to tell them about SGSecure, ask them to come down, ask them to download the app, ask them to learn about first aid, what to do in an emergency when someone is hurt. I hope you will be able to make sure that your officers all download the SGSecure app. It tells you what to do in an emergency. And also, I hope they are trained to do CPR and basic first aid. Basic things, when you are under attack, you run, you hide, and then you let the Police know as soon as it is safe to do so.
13. Third, we have increased the ability of our Police Force to respond faster and better to incidents. We have the Emergency Response Teams, and the Rapid Deployment Troops, they are agile and can go on motorbikes. We also, in specific areas in Singapore, have the In-Situ Reaction Teams, they are located in many areas. We are also bringing in new technologies. In any part of Singapore, if there is an attack, whether it is in Woodlands, or Changi, or in the city, the emergency response has got to be there in a certain number of minutes, which we won’t say precisely the number, but they will be there a certain number of minutes. So our response forces are essential to us. We are also investing heavily in technologies, upgrading our command centres, CCTV networks and police robots.
IV. BUILDING CAPABILITIES IN THE SECURITY INDUSTRY
14. So that is on the side of the Police. The security industry is a key partner in protecting Singapore against the security threat. Security officers are deployed at the places Singaporeans live, work, play and study. You work along the Home Team to safeguard major events, like the Trump-Kim Summit and major ASEAN meetings. Many security agencies were involved. Security officers can often be the first line of defence. Let’s say an attack happens in a mall. The person on the ground is one of your security officers. They will be able to spot if something is not right, if they are well trained. They will be able to offer help, if they are well trained. They will be able to manage the public after the attack, if they are well trained. They can respond to any incident.
15. When we analyse the attacks overseas, we noticed that a well-trained security officer on the ground, who is able to detect and deter terrorist attacks, makes a big difference. It saves lives. We need to be ready. Security officers need to know what to look out for, what to do, to prevent and respond to an attack. We have to work with security agencies to try to put in place systems and technology that will complement your officers.
[A] Government initiatives to build capabilities in the Security Industry
16. So what is the Government doing about it? I think we all have to look at it, as what we want in the future is very different from how we have traditionally seen the role of security officers. How to build the capabilities?
17. MHA has introduced a number of initiatives over the past two years, both for security agencies and for officers. First, in terms of the security officers, we have courses, for example, how to “Recognise Terrorist Threats”. It educates the officers on the terror threat we face, and trains them on how to identify these threats and unusual factors. This course will be made compulsory for all security officers from 1 January 2020, and we intend to require them to undergo it before they can be deployed to crowded premises. So I encourage all security agencies to send your officers for this course.
18. Second, as many of you are aware, the Security Industry Transformation Map (ITM). My Deputy Secretary (Home Affairs) is heavily involved, and also the Second Minister for Home Affairs, who is also the Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo is actively involved in these issues. We have worked with both associations, as well as the labour movement and the wider industry, to launch the ITM.
19. The aim is to develop a modern and technologically advanced security industry, which is able to address challenges faced by the industry, and therefore achieve better security outcomes for everyone.
20. There are four strategies under the ITM. One, push for technology and innovation. Second, push for best sourcing by pushing for outcome-based security contracts. Third, make sure the Government regulations and Government behaviour are aligned to the objectives of the ITM. Fourth, invest to upgrade the skills of our workers.
21. So you see, unlike other Governments, we don’t take a laissez-faire attitude, we work with you, we put the money in, and we recognise that our policies can shape the contracts. And we will do that. The Government has committed $17 million for this Security ITM, over the next three years. We will see how that money goes before we make further commitments.
22. We are making good progress on the ITM, especially in our drive towards the adoption of technology. This $17 million doesn’t cover the other kinds of grants that you can get. It also promotes best sourcing through outcome-based security contracts.
23. These are two critical strategies. Technology changes the way security services are delivered. On the supply side, we can make good changes. We can also make good changes on the demand side, with the help of integration of technology, new processes in the security industry. Because if we insist on outcome-based security contracts, that changes the way security services are purchased. And together, we can break the assumption that more manpower equals better security. It doesn’t.
24. On the technology front, the Security Industry Digital Plan (IDP) was launched in July this year. This is to help agencies adopt digital technology, and identify pre-approved security solutions.
25. There are solutions that are proven, that are market-tested and cost effective, that can help SMEs, that can give peace of mind because the vendor is reliable.
26. There are now a number of pre-approved security solutions, at least five. We are working to expand the list. SME security agencies can tap on a Productivity Solutions Grant to purchase these solutions. They can go to the Government and say I want to purchase these solutions, Government will say go ahead to purchase. It will support up to 50% of the qualifying cost, or up to $30,000 per company per year.
27. We have also made a strong push to modernise contracting practices. I told you about the outcome-based security contracts that started in July of this year. It is intended to be a reference for service buyers.
28. We have also developed a training course on these contracts for service providers, so that the service providers understand how the contracts work. And Government has committed itself to adopt outcome-based security contracts.
[B] Security Associations are an Important Partner in our efforts
29. Security associations are very key partners in these efforts. Because you have the networks to push out these new initiatives, and you have a keen understanding of the industry.
30. Over the past year, both associations have worked with my ministry, to first develop and implement the Security ITM, and second to review the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for Security Officers.
31. Robert and Joshua – both active members of the Security ITM Tripartite Committee focusing on the ITM, and the Security Tripartite Cluster focusing on the PWM. Ultimately, it must result in meaningful increase in wages of our security officers, they must feel more is provided to them, that the salaries are better, there is a career track, there is a path. And at the same time, it must also be comfortable for the agencies. It must result in a win-win outcome for the agencies and the officers, and it must result in better solutions for the purchasers.
32. As Robert mentioned in his speech, the alliance of the two agencies that has been formed together with the Union of Security Employees (USE) is very important. It can support industry efforts and support Security ITM. Organising Tech Catalyst Sessions which allow security agencies to link up with technology providers which will support their push for technology. Organising buyer outreach seminars - reaching out to service buyers and educating them on what outcome-based security contracts are. And establishing dedicated teams which will focus on Helpdesk and Office of Industry Transformation – it’s all highly commendable.
33. I would like to thank both associations, and the leadership of both associations, everyone who has contributed, all of you who are here, labour movement representatives, Zainal who is here, for really walking the walk and walking the talk, and working with us to transform this industry.
34. Tonight’s combined dinner is an extremely special occasion. The spirit of collaboration is obvious, and I thank all of you. And together, when we meet again in three years, we can have very different conversations. Three years of continuous transformation and when the industry is at a very different place, when the agencies and officers can say we have done a good job. Thank you.