Published: 04 August 2016
Chairmen and Members of the Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees,
Home Team colleagues, volunteers and friends
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. This year, our theme for National Day is "Building our Singapore of Tomorrow". We look forward to the future. For any country, if we spend too much time looking at the rear-view mirror, we would not be able to go forward. Particularly so for a small country like Singapore, you have to know the road travelled, understand what we did that was successful, and look to the future in confidence.
2. The Home Team is looking forward to that journey. The Home Team Transformation 2025 is our roadmap for the future. It tells us where we want to be and how we want to face the challenges. It outlines the challenges– demographics, social and other challenges – that our society will face, and how we will try to stay on top of them, and take advantage of whatever comes our way. For that, we will need a well-integrated and effective Home Team. For our transformation to succeed, as opposed to remaining a plan, it has to go through the top and be accepted across all ranks. It has to bring in the power of technology and the power of the community. The Home Team will kick-start our transformation, work on it and push it along.
A Future-Ready Home Team
3. One of the projects that comes within this rubric, and which is enabled by technology is the myResponder app by SCDF, under the Save-A-Life initiative. People are taught and empowered to be able to help somebody else in distress before the SCDF arrives.
4. People have already started using this app to save lives. It empowers people and that's what we want to do. We want to look for more opportunities like that as a key aspect of our transformation journey.
The Home Team and Community in Partnership
5. That brings me to the topic of partnership. We work in partnership with neighbourhoods, grassroots and community organisations, businesses, NGOs, and of course schools. The young are our future. We have to get the young on board and work with them. One example is the CHIJ St. Nicholas team that is present here today. They took part in the N.E.mation competition this year. And of course, at the foundations are our own Home Team NSmen and Home Team officers in the community.
6. As we talk about the community, PM Lee will be officially launching SGSecure next month. SGSecure will bring community partnerships with the Home Team to a different level. The entire concept has to be embedded in the community, and it can only succeed if we educate, convince and persuade the community to be part of this major national movement.
A Tribute to Public Spiritedness and Volunteerism
7. Today, at our National Day Observance Ceremony, we recognise the contributions of different categories of people who have helped us, such as our volunteers and people who have given their time in other ways. The reason why we can keep Singapore safe and secure, and kept our crime rates low, is because of people who come forward to help, sometimes to stop crime from being committed, sometimes to give us information on what happened, or sometimes to help people in distress. We will recognise their acts of public spiritedness today. In one case, three individuals of different races attempted to rescue a man who had fallen into the Singapore River before SCDF arrived. Stories like these are inspiring. Another individual is a 92-year-old volunteer, Madam Ling Hie Lang, who has volunteered with the Home Team for over 30 years. We salute you and other volunteers. Thank you.
8. These are the people who go much further than the extra mile, to help society and help us. Another group that we want to acknowledge is our volunteer police officers. For example, Volunteer Police Superintendent Edwin Ignatious is one of them. He is the Head of the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) at Jurong Police Division. He leads by example and clocks on average over 50 hours per month. Compare this to other countries, where the typical work hours are about 45 hours per month.
9. To provide greater recognition for the contributions of our VSC officers, we had increased the VSC allowance from $2.80 per hour to $3.60 per hour. Even with the increase, any suggestion that our several thousand VSC officers, our partners, are doing this for just $3.60 per hour is outrageous. They are doing it not for the money. They are doing it because their heart is in this, and they want to help us. We stand by them, thank them, and appreciate them.
10. On this occasion of National Day, we can all take pride that Singapore remains one of the safest cities in the world. One of the cities where our uniformed forces, be it the Police, ICA, SCDF and others, are highly regarded institutions. Our people have faith in our officers. They have confidence in our forces and the level of confidence is tremendous. For example, the Police is one of the public institutions that ranks highest in public perception surveys, and we have to keep it that way. That is due to the leadership provided, and because of our officers. We thank all of you.
11. Thank you and have a Happy National Day.