The Home Team Diploma and ITE Sponsorship Awards Ceremony - Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 28 May 2016

Award recipients,

Home Team colleagues,

Representatives from the various institutions,

Ladies and Gentlemen


1     A very good morning to all of you. Welcome to the Home Team and welcome to this year's Home Team Diploma and ITE Sponsorship Awards Ceremony.  


2     We're not called the Home Team for nothing. It's not just about keeping our home safe and secure but the work we do is about home. I was speaking to some of the Commanders earlier, about one of the first scenes from the "Our Guardians" video that you saw earlier. It was about how a police officer responded to the call of duty to apprehend an offender, but later came back in plain clothes to help pack clothing and ensure the welfare of the child of the person arrested was taken care of. This is not just a mere video. It actually happens day-to-day. It is not often celebrated and we keep it very low-key. We are often seen as focusing on security, law and order, apprehending offenders, bringing justice, but we do this from the heart as well.


3     In my constituency in Jurong, I had an officer who responded to a situation. A grandmother had passed away and she was the main caregiver to the grandchildren. The parents were missing and the grandfather was helpless. This officer, after responding to the scene, returned that evening after work to bring toys to the grandchildren. She spent the whole evening with these young children. She went beyond the call of duty and this went unnoticed until someone reported to me.  A grassroots leader told me that this was a police officer. So this is what the Home Team is about, keeping it safe and secure, and with a heart.


4     So this morning 120 of you young men and women studying in our Polytechnics and ITE will be joining this cadre of officers and receiving Home Team Sponsorship Awards. I started off with that to make sure that we all know what the Home Team is about.


5     Of the 120 of you, 12 of you are receiving the Home Team Diploma sponsorship and you had received an award before for your ITE studies. I congratulate you for taking the next step.


6     Congratulations to all 120 of you. My colleagues and I warmly welcome you to the Home Team, and look forward to working with you in the near future.


7     Please also take some time amid this celebration to thank your parents, grandparents, family members, as well as your principals and teachers for their strong support and guidance, behind the scenes, nurturing and developing you, and bringing you to where you are today.


Deliver the Home Team's Mission


8     The Home Team has worked hard over many years to keep Singapore safe and secure. We are one of the safest cities in the world. If you travel, you will know that. Crime remains low and is under control. All this with a very lean Home Team force, as compared to other cities. Drug abuse, recidivism, immigration offences and the fire safety situation are all stable.


9     All of this is a result of the collective efforts, 24/7, 365 days a year, of all our Home Team officers, of which you will soon be a part of. But we cannot take today's peace and security for granted, not at all. When you join the Home Team, you will know why.


10     We continue to face new threats and new challenges. These are the threats and challenges that you will join us in fighting: terrorism, cybercrime, syndicates and transnational organised crime, operating from the 4 corners of the world, affecting Singaporeans.


11     In addition, the Home Team continues to face rising workload, and ever rising public expectations. Look at Facebook and Stomp and you will know what that means. Emergency ambulance calls, for those of you joining SCDF, are likely to double over the next 15 years, more and more people will call for help, as our population grows older. The number of travellers and the volume of cargo, for those joining the ICA, is set to increase with the new Terminals in Changi Airport, with the new Rapid Transit System as well as the High Speed Rail between Singapore and Malaysia.

Meaningful Work and Career Growth


12     Many of these challenges can only be addressed if we plan far ahead and develop long term plans that involve fundamental changes to the way we operate. This includes smarter use of data analytics and technology to help us work better and smarter, closer partnerships with our community and our neighbourhoods, and highly capable, professional, competent Home Team officers. 


13     Our ability to transform the Home Team to be ready for the future depends very much on our ability to attract, develop and retain good officers, with the passion and commitment to serve, and work as one Home Team.  


14     Since the launch of the Home Team Diploma and Home Team ITE Sponsorship Awards, 238 recipients have been appointed into service after their studies. They don the uniform proudly each day and are part of this family. They have made valuable contributions to the Home Team and to Singapore.


15     I cited one example earlier at the start of my speech. Let me cite another - Staff Sergeant Tan Yu Ren who was from our 2011 batch. He joined the Police Force in June 2012 after graduating from Singapore Polytechnic. During his stint as a Community Policing Officer at Woodlands West NPC, he and his team worked closely with the community to fight crime but he also went beyond the call of duty. In one case, he helped a single mother who was suffering from schizophrenia. She was incapable of looking after herself and her 4-year old daughter. Beyond his police duties, he helped the mother obtain social support from the relevant government agencies and welfare organisations. He made sure that as part of executing his duties, he got the help needed from the rest of the government to assist this lady and her child. Yu Ren also reaches out to groups of foreign workers to help them assimilate better into our local culture and society.

16     As Yu Ren has performed well in his work and demonstrated strong leadership, the Police Force decided to sponsor his full-time studies at SIT-University of Liverpool Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Security. This will cover his full salary and tuition fees for the three years of full time studies. He will graduate in 2018 and return to the Police Force as an Inspector and we are sure he will contribute even more in the years to come.


17     So when you join us, you will find that the work in the Home Team is very challenging, very exciting and very meaningful. Above all, it is extremely dynamic. There are new situations you will face each and every day and new challenges to deal with all the time. And so the Home Team is constantly innovating and evolving, looking ahead, planning to deal with the increasingly challenging security landscape. This means that the nature of work will need to be redesigned ever so often to meet the challenges as they arise. So when you join us, this is what you can expect.


18     The Home Team emphasizes the training and development of each and every one of our officers. Receiving this award is just the first step. On graduation, you should look forward to fulfilling and rewarding careers with the Home Team. Whether it is fulfilling and meaningful depends a lot on you and your attitude on how you rise to the challenge. There are also many opportunities for you to acquire new skills, move around, deepen specialist expertise and pursue personal as well as professional development. If you perform well and show potential, you can certainly look forward to further sponsorship opportunities to upgrade yourself both academically and professionally. 


19     Just to share another example, CPL Gwen Ong Sock Puay received the Home Team ITE Award. She joined SCDF in Sep 2015 after obtaining a Higher NITEC in Paramedic and Emergency Care from ITE. As a Paramedic in the Ang Mo Kio Fire Station, she attended to many emergency medical cases and saved many lives. She was very professional when she responded to an emergency call where the patient's daughter insisted on sending her father to a preferred hospital, which was much further away. This would have been a deviation from the paramedic protocol. Gwen attended to the patient's medical needs as the first priority, and professionally held her ground on where to send the patient to because she firmly believed it was in the best interest of the patient. Given her good work performance, she was awarded the Home Team Diploma Sponsorship and has started her Diploma in Nursing at the Nanyang Polytechnic since April this year.    



20     The future holds exciting opportunities for all of you. You are all very young, still in school, facing a challenging and rewarding career ahead.


21     A career with the Home Team is work that is real, work at the frontline that protects Singapore and keep your families, friends and neighbours safe. A job where you will be respected by the community.


22     Once again, congratulations to all of you and I look forward to working with you. Congratulations also to your parents. Thank you for your strong support. They will need you to be behind and beside them. Keep encouraging them to study hard and when they join the Home Team, please continue to give them your support.


23     I wish you all the best in your studies and your career with the Home Team. 



Factsheet for Home Team Promotion 2016