The Home Team Parade - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 02 October 2015

DPM Teo,



Good Evening.




1.     We gather today to pay tribute to DPM Teo who has led the Home Team to a very strong position today.




2.     DPM came to MHA in May 2011 - after a long and successful stint in MINDEF, and before that, various other Ministries.


3.     If memory serves me right, before DPM, it is only Dr Goh Keng Swee who has served Defence, Education and Home Ministries. That is saying something. Under DPM, supported by Ministers Iswaran and Masagos, the Home Team has become a highly effective organisation. An organisation that fulfils its role.


4.     The result? Last week, the Global Law and Order 2015 Report ranked Singapore No. 1 out of 141 countries. This was on people's sense of safety in their neighbourhoods and experiences with the police[1]. Nine in 10 residents in Singapore said they felt safe walking home alone at night. Wherever I go in the world, when people talk to me about systems, I tell them, in Singapore, your 10-year-old child can go on public transport without you having to worry as to whether that child will come back. That is precious. And anyone, any lady can feel safe, walking in Singapore day or night, and that is precious. This is what the Home Team is all about. For every Singaporean to feel safe and secure and to have the freedom to pursue their dreams. 


5.     This has been achieved despite an uncertain background, regionally and around the world. The security environment in the region and around the world has become more complex and more dangerous. Consider the rise of ISIS and self-radicalisation, the increasing sophistication of cybercrimes, the worsening regional drug situation and changing societal norms which have led to new criminal, security and public order threats. All these have intensified demands on the Home Team.




6.     How did the Home Team become a much improved outfit? DPM had a clear plan and he executed it.  He outlined his approach in his first Home Team Convention address in 2011[2] . He said that there was a need for greater capacity to respond to new demands and to prepare for future challenges. This meant giving the Home Team more resources and getting more out of  existing resources.


7.     He pushed for: one, an integrated Home Team which will be more than the sum of its parts. Two, greater synergies across departments and greater use of inter-departmental strengths and resources. For example, the CNB working closely with ICA to stop drugs from entering Singapore. Three, technology was used as a key enabler. Initiatives such as the installation of Police cameras in HDB estates, the automation of immigration counters at the checkpoints were all quickly implemented.  These allowed frontline police officers, and immigration officers to be re-deployed to other critical tasks.


8.     DPM also emphasised community partnerships. Community partnerships were strengthened, andthe community was enabled to contribute in many ways. These partnerships, coupled with tough enforcement by the Police, have played a significant role in many areas.  One example is our fight against unlicensed moneylenders.  The number of UML harassment cases in 2014 was at their lowest in the last ten years. The Community Policing System, or COPS, has also been introduced.  COPs strengthened the Police's ground networks within the community and it has enhanced the community's participation in fighting crime. SPS also works closely with CNB to reduce re-offending.  This improved community collaboration better supports ex-drug abusers.  It helps in their reintegration back into society.


9.     There are also many examples of greater, better use of technology.  One example: the SCDF launched the "Save a Life" initiative. This taps on the location-based technology of a mobile application.  The app will alert users to cardiac arrest cases nearby and locates the nearest AEDs.


10.     But technology and systems can only take you so far. They can never be  effective, without good officers. Home Team officers are at the heart of all our capabilities. DPM put a great emphasis on our officers. They were provided with the necessary training and support. In the past few years, more upgrading opportunities for officers were provided, salaries and skills allowances were revised, retirement ages were extended, and specialist skills were built up in domains where deep expertise is needed. The result is a qualitatively different and more effective team and better morale.


11.     Apart from focusing on current challenges, we also have to be prepared for tomorrow's challenges.  DPM worked hard to make sure that the Home Team was prepared for the future. This is not a task that one can ever say is done.  It is always work in progress.  DPM laid the important groundwork by pushing the Home Team to plan for it, and take the steps to put it in place, and quite significantly he secured a multi-year resourcing arrangement.  This will ensure that the Home Team is adequately resourced to implement its strategies. 


12.     With greater certainty in resourcing, the Home Team can now make longer-term strategic plans, systematically build up operational capabilities, strengthen community partnerships and develop Home Team officers for many years to come.




13.     Today, I am privileged to come back to the Home Team,one that is more strategic in its outlook, more integrated and more deeply connected to the community.


14.     DPM, this evening, everyone at MHA, thanks you for your vision, your passion and your drive.  You have made the Home Team a qualitatively much superior organisation. Looking back, in 2011, you had the unique set of skills and vision to improve the Home Team. The skill sets necessary to re-engineer a sprawling, manpower intensive organisation, like the Home Team. The Home Team was lucky to get you as the Minister.  Though I can safely say – it was not a planned move. 


15.     Your contributions have strengthened the Home Team, improved the lives of the Home Team officers, and made Singapore a safer and more secure place. When you took over the Ministry in 2011, you said in your speech, referring to me, as follows:


"Our philosophy is that once you are part of the Home Team family,

we never let you get away!"


16.     I will say the same thing to you.  We will not quite let you get away. We wish you the very best in your portfolio as Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, among other duties.  The Home Team and I will continue to support you in your roles.




17.     Let me also take this opportunity to say something to our officers.  It is an honour for me to be able to be part of the Home Team, together with Desmond and Amrin, and serve with the dedicated men and women. You put your lives and safety on the line every day to keep Singapore safe.


18.     To all Home Team officers, thank you for your extraordinary service, courage and commitment to this noble mission.  The Home Team is in a good position with the strong foundations laid by DPM.  


19.     We are now in the midst of a long term planning exercise.  This exercise will seek to transform the Home Team.  This is the journey that we will continue. We will work together with Home Team officers, as well as our NSFs, NSmen, community partners and volunteers to keep Singapore safe and secure for everyone.


20.     Thank you.

[1] http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-tops-international-poll-on-sense-of-personal-security-experience-with-police

[2] In 2005, there were about 8,000 UML cases. The number peaked in 2009, where about 18,000 cases were reported. Since then, the number of cases has been on the decline, with about 6,000 cases reported in 2014. 


Managing Security Threats
Law and order