The Minister’s Award Presentation Ceremony - Opening Remarks by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 28 September 2016

Home Team colleagues


Distinguished guests


Ladies and gentlemen


1. It is a pleasure for me to be here. This afternoon, we are here to recognise the good work of our officers. We do this because you, the individual officer and team of officers, are really the essence of the Home Team. You are the heart of the Home Team. You can have two problems. You can have the best systems but if you don't invest in the people, it is useless. You can have good people, but if you don't have systems, it is also useless. It is a problem both ways. So we have to emphasise that we start with our officers – train them, invest in them, recognise them, value them. Without them, nothing else can happen. Building on that, we need a system, an infrastructure to make sure that you do your best, imbue you with the right values, recognise you and give you the right equipment, system and legal framework. 


2. You work tirelessly, people in the Home Team. You face challenging circumstances, life-threatening situations. Most people outside don't have a real idea of what you do. Often, what you do is not adequately thanked, at least not by the public. Sometimes, it appears thankless. But our officers continue to work hard because they are imbued with a sense of purpose, a mission to keep Singapore safe and secure. That commitment, that dedication, is what makes Singapore what it is today – safe and secure, one of the safest cities in the world, if not the safest.


3. Today, these are symbolic tokens of appreciation but they are important because this shows our commitment to recognise you. More than 300 Home Team officers will be recognised today. We will give out:


a. The Home Team Achievement Awards which recognise collaborative efforts within the Home Team;


b. The Operational Excellence Awards for outstanding projects and  operations; and


c. The MHA Star Service Award for officers who went well beyond the call of duty and delivered excellent service.  


4. Let me share some examples. Officers from the Community Rehabilitation & Reintegration Branch of the Singapore Prison Service worked on the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme (MAS). They put in place plans and processes to ensure the smooth implementation of the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme. We expect the MAS to be instrumental in helping our ex-offenders to reintegrate back into society, the importance of which we have talked about. You don't reintegrate them back into society, sooner or later, they will come back. 


5. Officers from CNB worked closely with the Narcotics Crime Investigation Department of the Royal Malaysian Police to cripple a transnational drug ring. This prevented the illegal distribution of drugs worth more than RM26million, a huge amount of drugs. It was a very successful operation, a close cooperation with the Malaysian police.


6. The ICC (Land Domain), comprising officers from ICA, SPF, CNB, Singapore Customs, CERTIS CISCO and AETOS, implemented the Arrival Car Forward Security Checks at both the Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints. That has considerably strengthened our land checkpoints. We have more than 400,000 people who travel at our two land checkpoints daily.


7. Officers from the Police worked with the Royal Malaysian Police to solve a very serious case of attempted kidnap. Two victims were kidnapped and held hostage in Malaysia. A ransom of US$250,000 was demanded. SPF worked closely with the Royal Malaysian Police and moved swiftly. The kidnappers were arrested very quickly. No ransom was paid and the victims were freed without being hurt.


8. SCDF conducted a 16-hour protracted operation in response to a fire at CK Building in Tampines. SCDF posted photographs of SCDF officers, their faces covered with soot. They looked tired, and were sitting on the floor. They were taking a short dinner break before resuming operations. That gave the public a dose of realism as to what it was like to be at the frontline. A large part of our work is about preventing things from happening or solving them quickly. Because we are successful at that, not many Singaporeans realise what the problems are in the first place. It was especially heartening to see many Singaporeans from all walks of life coming forward to express their appreciation for the SCDF officers after those photos were put up. I did a post on my Facebook page as well. 


9. These are just five of the many successful projects and people that we will recognise today. 


10. Most, if not all of you, would have heard about the 17-hour standoff which ended this morning. I am told, but it has yet to be verified, that the person involved may have been under the influence of some sort of drugs. A young child, almost 3 years old was being held, and it must have been traumatic. It will be a trauma for the rest of the child's life for a significant part, unless he is given the right counselling. Our officers moved in, it was a very successful operation. SCDF officers rappelled down the block. You will see it in the media tomorrow. But that is what we do everyday. Our officers deserve congratulations for having done well. A life is saved but again, it brings home the problem of drugs. We have much less of the situation compared to elsewhere because of the approach we take on drugs.


11. Congratulations to all our award recipients. Well done, keep up the good work and let's continue to keep Singapore safe and secure.