Published: 22 August 2015
Scholarship recipients and parents,
Principals and teachers,
Home Team colleagues,
Good Morning. First, let me congratulate the 12 young men and women who are receiving the Home Affairs Uniformed Services Scholarship this year. I also congratulate your families, principals and teachers who have guided and supported you thus far.
Building on the Foundations Laid by our Pioneers
2. Two weeks ago, we celebrated Singapore's 50th National Day. The vintage parade included Police and SCDF veterans in their early uniforms. It was a very meaningful and touching moment, a simple and yet evocative reminder of how far Singapore and the Home Team have come.
3. In the early years of our independence, our pioneer Home Team officers had to tackle serious security challenges including communism, racial tensions, labour unrest, secret societies, serious violent crimes, riots, drugs, and major fires. Our Home Team pioneers showed commitment and dedication, putting their lives on the line, to ensure that ordinary Singaporeans can go about our daily lives in peace and security. This stability also provided the foundation for Singapore's development and progress, which we can see all around us today.
Tackling the Security Challenges of the Future
4. The security challenges that we face today and in the future are different but they are no less challenging and daunting than what our pioneers faced in the early years.
5. The global threat of terrorism, including by self-radicalised individuals, is real and is present. We need to adopt a multi-pronged approach to prevent a terrorist attack from happening in Singapore. But as we have seen in Paris, Sydney, and recently in Bangkok, and other places around the world, attacks can still occur even where there is already a high level of security alert. Thus, apart from maintaining a high level of security, we also need to strengthen community resilience so that if a terrorist incident were to occur in Singapore, we will remain united and strong, and not let the terrorists tear apart our social harmony that we have painstakingly built over the decades.
6. With globalisation and the prevalent use of the Internet, transnational organised crime and cyber-enabled crime are also growing. We also see an increasing regional and international flow of drugs. In some countries which have failed to bring the scourge of illegal drugs under control, there are even moves to permit drug use freely. Permitting drug use freely is not a sensible move, certainly not for a country like Singapore, where drug use is very low, because it can only result in drug use increasing to the rampant levels in those other countries.
7. On the domestic front, we expect the demand for Home Team services will continue to rise. For example, with more travellers, the opening of new airport terminals, and rail links we will see many more travellers arriving at our checkpoints. As our population ages, there will be greater demand for SCDF's emergency medical services.
Doing Our Work Differently and Better
8. There will however be fewer young people joining our workforce as a whole. Therefore, there will be fewer people which the Home Team can call upon. The Home Team therefore needs to work together in a more integrated way, and use technology as a force multiplier, so that we can deliver better services to Singaporeans more efficiently and effectively.
9. At the same time, we need to forge stronger partnerships with the community. There are many individuals and groups who want to take greater ownership of the safety and security of their own neighbourhoods and communities. The Home Team will develop new ways to facilitate these community partnerships, whether preventing crime, strengthening community resilience, or responding to emergencies.
Investing in Our People
10. But ultimately, it is our Home Team officers who make the difference in keeping Singapore safe and secure. The Home Team must continue to recruit, develop and retain good officers with the right ability, attitude, and values. In the past few years, we have provided more upgrading opportunities for serving officers, revised salaries and allowances, extended retirement ages, and built up specialist skills in several domains where deep expertise is needed.
11. The Home Affairs Uniformed Services Scholarship is one way through which we bring in good people, invest in their training and education, and develop them for leadership positions. To our scholarship holders and recipients today, welcome to the Home Team. You will be deployed to demanding jobs at each stage of your career, where you will have to make good use of your people and leadership skills. Your work will be purposeful and fulfilling, with a clear and direct impact on Singaporeans, every day. Guided by the Home Team core values of "Honour and Unity", you will help shape the future of the Home Team, so that it remains well-prepared to tackle the security challenges of tomorrow.
12. So, fly the flag high – we expect the highest standards of professionalism, discipline and personal conduct from our scholars, indeed, from all our officers. Work hard, excel in your studies, and participate actively in your school community, whether in Singapore or abroad.
13. Congratulations once again, and congratulations also to your parents, family members and all those who helped contribute to making what you are today. I wish you all the best and look forward to your contributions when you return to serve in the Home Team and to serve Singapore and Singaporeans.
14. Thank you very much.