Published: 19 August 2021
Home Team colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. My heartiest congratulations to our newest Home Team scholars. You are joining a team of deeply committed officers, with the important mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure.
Capable and Trusted Home Team
2. The Home Team has consistently delivered on its mission. The Gallup Global Law and Order Index in 2020 ranked Singapore in first place, for the seventh year running. In that survey, 97% of Singapore residents – including women – said they felt safe walking alone at night, the highest in the world. Our drug situation remains firmly under control. Our recidivism rate for ex-offenders and fire fatality rate are among the lowest in the world.
3. Public confidence and trust in the Home Team are very high. In the last Public Perception Survey, 9 in 10 Singapore residents felt that the Home Team has done very well to keep Singapore safe and secure.
4. Our officers possess a strong sense of purpose and mission. Our regular in-house pulse surveys show that 9 in 10 of our officers find their work meaningful. This is because they are working on issues that have a very real and direct impact on the lives of Singaporeans.
Challenges Facing the Home Team
5. But we live in challenging times.
6. The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, all over the world. MHA is in the thick of it. MHA chairs the Homefront Crisis Executive Group (HCEG), which supports the Multi-Ministry Taskforce in planning and executing the policies and responses for COVID-19. Home Team agencies have also taken on the responsibility for a range of COVID-19 operations: running the border measures to screen and regulate incoming travellers, enforcing Stay Home Notices, supporting the operations at Government Quarantine Facilities, assisting MOH with contact tracing, and more. The work in the Home Team can never be described as “boring”.
7. Another challenge we face is violent ideologies. The ideologies of terrorist groups like ISIS, and the Far-Right Movement in the US and Europe, find resonance across the world. Being an open society, Singapore has not been immune. The Home Team must constantly be on guard against this persistent threat.
8. The Home Team is also closely watching the global drug situation. New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), which mimic the psychoactive effects of traditional drugs, are easy to produce. New variants constantly appear in the market, and it is difficult to keep up with proscribing each new variant. This is a serious threat to our society, where our long-standing drug-free policy has protected us from the many social and medical ills that have plagued other jurisdictions.
9. Meanwhile, criminals are innovating and finding new ways to make money. More people in Singapore are falling victim to cyber-enabled scams. Last year, Singaporeans lost more than $200 million to scams. Some scammers have in fact cynically exploited COVID-19 concerns to dupe their victims.
A Home Team Ready for the Future
10. Home Team officers must therefore also be forward-looking, and be equally innovative in our response.
11. For example, later this year, we will amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to strengthen legislative levers against NPS. In addition to the traditional approach of proscribing each NPS, we will also control such substances by their potential to produce a psychoactive effect. This will empower the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) to take swifter enforcement action, even if the substance is a newly developed one which has not yet been proscribed in our schedule of controlled drugs.
12. Home Team officers must also adopt and adapt new technologies to enhance operational capability. The Singapore Prison Service is taking another step closer to its “Prison without Guards” vision, by progressively deploying the Human Behavioural Detection System (HBEDS). Using smart cameras and video analytics, Prisons officers can better monitor inmates’ activities, and enhance safety and security in the prisons. With this, Prisons officers can focus their energies on rehabilitating inmates to help them reintegrate with society.
Investing in Home Team Leadership
13. Our most important investment, however, is in our people. You are critical to our mission success. This is why we invest heavily to attract the best talent, develop you, and give you a meaningful and fulfilling career in the Home Team.
14. The Home Team needs strong, capable, and inspiring leaders – of impeccable character and integrity, who lead by example, and inspire their colleagues to rise to the challenges.
15. So we put our scholarship applicants through a rigorous selection process and pick only the best in each cohort. This year, we awarded scholarships to 26 of you, out of a field of close to 400, very high caliber, applicants.
16. After graduation, you can look forward to a variety of postings that will give you wide exposure, and put you in good stead to take on higher appointments and responsibilities. You will participate in leadership development programmes at various milestones in your career. Regular 360-degree feedback exercises and coaching sessions will be provided, to help you discover your strengths, as well as areas for development.
17. So in my view, the 26 scholarship recipients have made an excellent career decision!
18. This year, we have two recipients of the Singapore Police Force Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded by the Public Service Commission to young Singaporeans with outstanding academic performance and leadership qualities, and who have a strong desire to serve in the Singapore Police Force.
19. Congratulations to Daven and Kayla. Daven will study Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley while Kayla will study Economics at Yale-NUS College.
20. We have two recipients of the Singapore Merit Scholarship – Jared and Jen Ray; six recipients of the Singapore Government Scholarship – Bryan, Claudia, Weixuan, Bernice, Anna, and Debbie; and two recipients of the MHA Merit Scholarship – Charles and Jian Yan. They will be pursuing a wide range of academic disciplines, including Law, Economics, Psychology, Engineering, and Geography.
21. We have 12 recipients of the Local Merit Scholarship: Andrea, Awais, Faith, and Hiong Wu will join the Police Force; Jia Cheng, Akid, Haatim, and Ezra will join SCDF; Cheng Liang and Ashley will join the CNB; Yi Hong will be part of the Prison Service; and Hazel will join ICA. We also have two recipients of the Home Team Local Study Award: Javan and Mirza, who will both be joining the Police Force.
22. Let me conclude by congratulating the parents, families, and school principals and teachers of our scholarship recipients. You have every reason to feel proud of the role you have played in nurturing these outstanding young women and men.
23. To our new scholars, I warmly welcome you into the Home Team family. I wish you all the best in your studies, and look forward to following your leadership journey in the Home Team upon your return. Thank you.