Singapore Police Force Scholarship & Home Team Scholarship Ceremony – Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 14 August 2018

Chairman PSC

PSC Members

Scholarship Recipients and Families


Ladies and Gentlemen

1.     Good evening. Let me start by congratulating our scholars. I went round, I think I managed to speak to almost everyone briefly. I have to say, each year as we meet, I get the feel that the students are getting more confident, more polished, more sure of themselves and clearer about what they want to do. I have to say that I came away extremely impressed with the boys and girls that I spoke with, and if this quality continues, I am very hopeful for the future leadership of the Home Team.



2.     For the scholarship recipients, you are joining a highly professional Home Team. The key thing that the Home Team is really proud of, is that if you go out and ask Singaporeans, and that is the acid test, it’s a highly trusted Home Team. Whether it is the Police Force, the SCDF, the Prison Service or the CNB, people have faith in the system, people have faith in our Force. That is something very precious. You can’t get it overnight. It is easy to lose, but very difficult to build up. We have built it up over many, many years. We are seeking out the very best to come in, so that you can continue the tradition, bring it to even higher levels.

3.     Something that I frequently say in my speeches is that when we do surveys, more than 95% of Singaporeans say they feel safe in Singapore, they have faith in our Police Force, in our law enforcement agencies. That is something that many countries can only dream of. That is our most prized asset. The faith and the trust that Singaporeans have in the system, that allows us then to do a lot of things. Our crime rate is one of the lowest in the world. Recidivism rate for ex-offenders is also low, we can get it lower. By International standards, we are ranked either number one or number two in terms of being crime free and being safe.

4.     In terms of the capabilities, it is always work in progress. We are trying to bring in technology. The recent Summit between the President of the United States and Chairman Kim of North Korea, we had about 14 to 15 days’ notice for a major summit that would take months to prepare. It had very complex logistics and security requirements and two people who are among the highest profiled targets in the world and the most complex requirements for themselves. The Home Team, not by itself, but it played a very significant role in pulling everything together within two weeks to ensure the logistics went on without a hitch, and we provided security on multiple occasions, and coordinated across many agencies. And even last minute arrangements, when Chairman Kim made a late night visit to Marina Bay. It was extremely difficult for the Home Team to deal with such last minute requests, but it went on, we delivered and it showcased Singapore to the world, and the can-do spirit of the Home Team was a key part of it. So that is a team that you will join.


5.     But you join us at a challenging time. We are operating in an environment where the threats are evolving very fast. One threat that almost all of you would know about or have heard about is the threat of terrorism. You see, if you take ten years ago, these attacks were carried out by organised groups which itself was difficult to deal with, but we are now seeing the emergence of single, lone wolves, self-radicalised individuals, somebody who decides that he will go out and try and do something. Very few agencies, in fact very few agencies in the world, can plan to prevent something like that. If you prevent, you are lucky. In May this year, for the first time, in Indonesia, entire families were involved in attacks, from father to mother to children, including very young children. That parents would do this to their own children is, I think barbaric. This is the new environment.



6.     Technology is also reshaping the security landscape. Drones, they come in all sorts of sizes now – they can make bees, birds. Internet scams, social media activities for harassment, hacking of computer systems to cause physical damage and cyber-attacks. Challenges are multi-fold. We are the frontline and the backstop for these things, in terms of preventing them, and dealing with it when it happens. A key part of what we do would be technology.

7.     I’ll give you a few examples. We are relooking at the entire way of operating, using technology because technology is moving so fast. That’s why we need people to come in, who are bright, hardworking, capable, willing to change. But it is not enough that only you are the change-leaders, but everyone around you needs to be brought along on this journey of change. You need to inspire, and you need to be inspired, and get people to buy into the change.

8.     If you take ICA, they are trying out automated in-car clearance systems. The cars come in, there is a system that will try and clear all the passengers in the car without people having to get out. It reduces our manpower needs. CNB has developed a prototype, a world’s-first for automated handling of urine samples. If you take Prisons, they have implemented something called a Near Field Communications (NFC) system. What it does is it takes the attendance of inmates at workshops, count the number of people and automate the roll-calls so that the routine tasks are done through technology, and the officers are free to do higher-level thinking.


9.     I spoke with some of you who are looking at Prisons as a career, and what inspired you is that we are not there to just lock people up. We are looking at taking charge of their lives. When they are in there and when they are out, and we want to work with the rest of society to make sure that they are the captains of their lives. We’ve moved them out of the system, hopefully into society, and hopefully never to see them again. That must be our key performance indicator. 


10.     And we have increasingly developed unmanned systems which will extend our physical reach. We’ve developed robots which will do patrolling, and remotely detect threats and project a Police presence.  The SCDF likewise uses robots to detect lives within the rubble. They have sniffer dogs, but now they are thinking of using robots. Police Coast Guard also uses unmanned surface vessels – actual vessels that can operate and patrol without manning and be controlled from a command centre.



11.     Think of yourself as part of the Home Team, whichever department that you are in. This is not an ordinary job. It is a job where you are protecting Singaporeans, the security of Singapore and the safety of Singaporeans is in your hands, whether it is in ICA, Prisons, Police, SCDF or any of the other agencies. We work together, we protect Singapore. The fact that people can sleep safely in their homes, depends on every one of you and every one of our officers.


12.     And it is not just planning. You have got to deal with the issues day by day. Real tests, real ‘999’ calls, you have to go down and you have to face the people who are creating the trouble and you have to deal with it. Very quickly, you will develop the ways of dealing with it.


13.     We conduct Organisation Health Surveys and our Home Team departments, annually, in our surveys, come out very highly in terms of how people feel in the organisation. Because one of the key things that comes through is that the officers feel that it is meaningful, that what they do is meaningful. They know that they can make a real impact on people’s lives.



14.     If you look at CNB, sometimes when we do our arrests, we are arresting people in front of their children. There is no choice in the matter. The abusers are put through the rehabilitation programmes. We then link up with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to care for the children. If we do not intervene, what do you think is going to happen to the children? We have seen enough videos from the United States to see what happens to the children. Parents driving in a drug craze, the child is in the car, the parents are sort of in a different land because they are in the midst of drug craze. In a supermarket, the child is sitting down crying. The Police in the various US states release these videos. We take a different approach.


15.     Last month, SCDF responded to a fire in Little India. It was a terrace house. Flames. 14 firefighting and support vehicles were mobilised by the SCDF. At the height of the fire, they used seven water jets. They brought it under control. The Police cordoned the area off. Because SCDF acted swiftly, and because of SCDF’s professionalism, it was dealt with within two hours in a dense area, the fire did not spread. Lives were saved.



16.     But all of this depends ultimately on a central core. That central core is our people. Without our people, all the technology in the world would be of little use. People who are not just honest, core values of integrity but also highly professional, skilled, very good. Strong and capable.


17.     So we invest a lot of resources in our people because that is what makes or breaks the Home Team. We have leadership courses, over and above those organised on a regular basis. We put our future leaders systematically through various postings, so that they look at the different perspectives. And of course, we continue to search for young talent. Our standards are high, we keep them high because we are investing for the future of Singapore. Scholarship recipients pass through a rigorous selection process, you know the process as you have gone through it. You are among the very best of your cohort who have been chosen to serve Singapore.


18.     We have two recipients for the Singapore Police Force Scholarship this year, which is awarded by PSC to outstanding young Singaporeans – Alden Tan and Stefan Liew. Alden will study Economics, Statistics & Data Science at Yale, and Stefan will study Liberal Arts at Yale-NUS.


19.     We have one recipient for the SPF Singapore Merit Scholarship, Cammy Chua, who will study psychology at University College London. She is our first female recipient of this scholarship.


20.     This year, we introduced a new Singapore Government Scholarship for paramedics, to develop leaders for our emergency medical services. Our first recipient is Han Ming Xuan. He will study para-medicine at Monash University.


21.     We have four other recipients for the Singapore Government Scholarship. Zheng Hao and Hazim. Zheng Hao will study Psychology or Social Sciences in the US, and Hazim will study Biology. Both will join SPF when they return. Muhammad Syukri Yeo will study in NUS and join SCDF upon graduation. Gina Farm will study in the University of Edinburgh and join the Singapore Prison Service when she returns.


22.     We have eight recipients for the Local Merit Scholarship: Chianh Jia Xuan, Huang Jamin, Joel See, Lim Si Ying and Shawn Ee - they will join the Police Force. Jeff Teo will join the Prison Service; Lee Wei Ting and Diandrea Ho will join ICA.


23.     We also have one recipient for the Home Team Local Study Award, Muhammad Firdaus, who will join ICA.


24.     They will pursue a wide range of academic disciplines, including law, liberal arts, psychology, and mathematics.



25.     We are proud of how our Home Team officers have contributed to keeping Singapore safe. Many go beyond the call of duty to protect everyone. They exemplify the Home Team values - Honour and Unity. And you, our scholars here, will join that tradition, and provide the future leadership for the Home Team.


26.     To the family members, principals and schools, thank you for nurturing these young people, bright talents. And to our new scholars, welcome to the Home Team. You will never complain that it is not exciting, it may get too exciting. So we wish you all the best, and we look forward to your contributions.

27.     Thank you very much.