The MHA Excel Awards Ceremony - Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 13 November 2015

Our School Partners and students

Home Team officers

Ladies and Gentlemen




1.     It is my pleasure to join you this morning at the MHA Excel Awards Ceremony to celebrate innovation and service excellence. I see many of our community partners here today and am glad that you could join us.


2.     To our winners of the MHA 3i Awards, your spirit of innovation is an inspiration to all of us. We celebrate your achievements along with those of  our young friends who are here today to showcase their exciting innovations from the MHA SAFE competition. 


3.     To our Star Service Award winners, I commend you on your passion and commitment to serve our community.


4.     My heartiest congratulations and appreciation to all of you.


Innovation in the Home Team


5.     We face a safety and security landscape where new challenges are emerging. An innovative mindset will help us stay ahead and be more nimble in meeting these challenges.


MHA 3i Awards


6.     3i Innovation Champions, you have been an inspiration to your colleagues in demonstrating how innovation can be applied in your daily work and how it can lead to significant benefits in enhancing Home Team operations. Continue to be the shining example among your peers in embracing innovation to help us do our work better. 


7.     For innovation to be effective, we need a keen appreciation of the operating environment and its realities. So it is not surprising that some of the best ideas and innovations come from officers on the ground, who face challenges on a daily basis and put in the extra effort to want to solve those problems to do their work better. 


8.     Take for instance SCDF's "New Generation HazMat Control Vehicle". In the past, it was equipped with basic, commercially-available mobile transporters to ferry HazMat officers in and out of contaminated areas. 


9.     Driven by a desire to enhance the capabilities of these transporters, our SCDF team integrated sensors and detectors into the transporters which enabled them to conduct hands-free monitoring of the environment. 


10.     Another innovative project is the Police's "Mobile Breath Evidential Analyser Test Centre". In the past, Breath Evidential Analyser tests or BEA tests could only be performed on suspected drink drivers at police stations because the equipment was housed there. The journey to the police station could allow the breath-alcohol levels for some to fall below the legal limit, resulting in many culprits escaping punishment.


11.     The team then built on the idea of bringing the BEA test on-site to alleviate this problem. They customised a police vehicle to facilitate BEA testing on motorists and designed it to double-up as a utility vehicle for roadblock operations. The time taken to conduct BEA tests was thus reduced, leading to an increase in the positive detection of drink drivers from 70% to 100%. Officers are happy that this innovation has helped them protect lives and bring errant drink drivers to justice. 


12.     To all 3i Award winners, well done, for making your work more effective and for making the Home Team proud in what you do. May you continue to exemplify the spirit of innovation in your departments and inspire others to continually improve the Home Team's work. 



13.     Today, we also celebrate the innovative spirit of our young partners from the SAFE Programme. This annual Programme offers our students the opportunity to tackle a variety of real-life safety and security issues through innovative prototype solutions. Some of these exciting innovations and inventions are on display at Expo Hall 3.


14.     Participation has grown about four-fold through the years, from 35 project proposals received in 2009 to 141 this year. Among them, are ideas from Primary school students. Despite their young age, they have shown us impressive and interesting ideas on keeping Singapore safe and secure.  The overall quality of projects has also improved, leading to a rise in the number of project finalists from 35 in 2009 to 66 this year.


15.     One example is the "Portable Automobile Security Screener" by Temasek Polytechnic. It was built to augment ICA's vehicle undercarriage screening capability through the use of powerful cameras and remote control features.


16.     Beyond engineering prototypes, "Exposure Days" is a project jointly conceptualised by NTU and SMU students to help ex-offenders reintegrate better into society upon their release. They have proposed a unique work attachment arrangement which would allow the community to interact with ex-offenders and be more accepting of them. They have even written a song, the first song in the history of the SAFE competition, to help convey the struggles faced by ex-offenders.


17.     I would like to thank NTU's School of Materials Science and Engineering and Singapore Polytechnic's Social Innovation Project for introducing safety and security-themed course curriculums as part of the SAFE Programme.


18.     We have seen many promising solutions emerge from your students' course work and look forward to deepening our partnerships with you.  


"Searching for Officer Joey" Children's Storybook


19.     The SAFE Programme is just one of many partnerships forged between the Home Team and the community to keep Singapore safe and secure. The community plays an important role in the work that we do and we hope to better engage the young in ways that will help them better connect with the Home Team.


20.     To this end, MHA has published a children's storybook titled "Searching for Officer Joey", which will be launched later today. It introduces the Home Team to children in a fun way and helps them become familiar with the work that we do.


Outstanding Service


21.     Innovation and the community are powerful pillars which support the Home Team in our operations and service delivery. However, if our officers do not possess the desire and commitment to serve our community well, we will be missing the essence of public service. 


22.     The job of a public officer is not just a job. It is a calling. It is therefore heartening to know that many of our officers go the extra mile or add a personal touch when serving members of the public. 


MHA Star Service Awards


23.     Take for example, Police Inspector Darius and Senior Staff Sergeant Nizam. They were on duty when they spotted a fire at Broadway Hotel. Going beyond the call of duty, they tried to put out the fire using fire extinguishers. But the fire continued to spread. Darius quickly worked with the hotel manager to evacuate the hotel guests while Nizam managed the crowd of onlookers. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. 


24.     Another officer who has been going the extra mile is from the Prisons, Chief Warder Ling. A resident of Penang has been travelling to Singapore to visit her husband who was serving time in prison. As her flights were sometimes subject to delays, Ling made special arrangements to schedule the visits based on her flight timings.  Ling also made it a point to communicate with her via email so that she could save on overseas call charges. 


25.     These and other untold stories of Star Service Award winners testify to the service culture that our Home Team embodies and the extra mile that many officers would do to make things better for Singaporeans. You have all done the Home Team proud. Continue to be that agent of influence as you serve our community with pride, dedication and passion. 





26.     Congratulations once again to all award winners on your outstanding contributions. Capable officers and strong community partnerships are key to fulfilling the Home Team's mission to keep Singapore safe and secure. I commend your efforts in supporting this worthy cause. 


27.     To our students and partners  of the SAFE Programme, we have been impressed by your creativity and dedication. You will always be a part of the Home Team family. 


Thank you.