Published: 05 August 2015
Heads of Home Team Departments,
Chairmen of the Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees,
Home Team colleagues, volunteers and friends
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we gather for the Home Team National Day Observance Ceremony to mark Singapore's 50th year of independence.
2. Let us remember our roots, reflect on our achievements over the past 50 years, and look ahead to the future that we want to build as one united people.
50 years of Home Team efforts at Nation Building
3. The opening line of our National Anthem, "Mari kita rakyat Singapura sama sama menuju bahagia" calls on all of us, the people of Singapore, to progress together towards happiness and indeed, we have come together to overcome challenges and have successfully created opportunities out of vulnerabilities. Opportunities that we never imagined could have been there when we became independent 50 years ago. Prosperity, security, new types of jobs which we never imagined was possible. Our pioneer Home Team officers worked hard to combat the very serious safety and security challenges in the early years of our nationhood that would have threatened our ability to progress – communism, violent crime and secret societies, labour and student unrest, Konfrontasi, racial riots, drugs, fire hazards and major fires.
4. Because of the hard work and determination of past generations of Home Team officers, Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world today. This has provided the foundation for social progress and economic development. And Singaporeans can go about our daily lives in peace and security - free from the worry of what might happen to them and their families as they go about their daily lives. Today, we recognise 104 Home Team officers for your professional excellence, dedication and commitment in the past year.
50 years of Community Partnership and Beyond
5. Working together with our Home Team officers, our community has played an important part to help keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe and secure. We could not have done it unless we worked together. We have volunteers who put in time and effort to serve their community and to support the Home Team's mission. We also have members of the public who haveshown strong public spiritedness in helping to save lives, or to fight crime. Today, we recognise and show our appreciation to 12 volunteers and 69 public-spirited individuals for your efforts. It is this spirit or "semangat" of community partnerships that keeps Singapore strong. In a heart-warming example two weeks ago, public-spirited passers-by came together spontaneously to help a person trapped under a heavy lorry, so that he could be quickly conveyed to hospital as soon as the ambulance arrived. Everyone worked together to help save him. 16 of them have stepped forward and have been recognised with the Singapore Civil Defence Force Public Spiritedness Award on 26 July.
6. As we look ahead to build an even better Singapore, the Home Team and the community has to continue to be united, and work in close partnership. Or as the national anthem says, Marilah kita bersatu. The security threats that we face today are different but no less challenging than those that our Pioneers faced in our early days. Today, the threats are transnational crime, cyber-related crime, terrorism, among others.
7. The Home Team must not only be well-prepared to tackle the challenges of today, but we have to look ahead also and be ready for the future. We have to plan ahead and lay the ground, so that future generations of Home Team officers have the wherewithal to keep Singapore safe and secure. Indeed, this is an important characteristic of our nation building journey, to always look ahead and to take the longer-term view so that we can plan ahead and make preparations, ahead of major issues that we may face. We strive to do better and to bring something stronger and more effective, in order to serve Singaporeans better.
8. The Home Team is placing stronger emphasis on forward planning and building new capabilities to help our officers do their duties better. We have new equipment such as lighter and better radio sets, cameras, unmanned fire-fighting machines, and new patrol boats. We have improved our command and control processes for more integrated operations to support our officers on the ground. So that they know that when they respond to an incident, the whole Home Team is behind them.
9. The Home Team will also take our community partnerships to the next level so that when the Home Team does something, they know that the whole community is behind them. And that gives us added strength. We welcome innovative ideas to tap on growing public support for community efforts to deter, prevent and fight crime, and to help save lives.
10. For example, Bedok Police Division launched the "Vehicles On Watch" project in May. Residents use their in-vehicle cameras as extra eyes on the ground to help keep their neighbourhood safe from crime. So far, more than 780 vehicle owners across 56 HDB car parks have signed up. This started in Bedok, and was targeted mainly at HDB carparks. Vehicle owners in private estates also wanted to come on board, and some of them have come on board too. This is a very positive sign of residents wanting to take part in a very constructive manner, helping to keep the nation safe.
11. I know that this is a very busy period in a very busy year for the Home Team. I commend our Home Team officers for keeping participants, officials and audiences safe and secure during the SEA Games, in a friendly yet effective way. I would also like to commend the 21 Home Team athletes who represented Singapore in the recent 28th SEA Games, and our 17 Home Team officers who served as SEA Games officials. Our Home Team athletes helped Singapore achieve our best ever SEA Games performance, by winning four gold, nine silver and nine bronze medals. Our Home Team athletes and officials are here with us today. Please join me in recognising their contributions with a round of applause!
12. While Singaporeans are celebrating SG50, and taking part in activities across the island during this Jubilee Weekend, our Home Team officers are working round the clock to ensure that all of us can celebrate in a safe and secure environment. I would like to say a big thank you to all our officers for letting all Singaporeans celebrate safely and securely.
13. To all our Home Team officers, volunteers, community partners and fellow Singaporeans, I wish everyone a very happy 50th National Day. Let us all continue to work together to keep Singapore safe and secure. Majulah Singapura! All the best.