Colleagues from the reception team,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. I am very pleased to join you today in marking this occasion and to present Home Team Sponsorship Awards to several of our recipients today.
2. We are finally able to come together in person, after two long years, and what could be more important than this occasion, and happy occasion, to celebrate the successes of 18 patronage award recipients who are now one step closer to achieving their vision and their passion to keep Singapore, our home safe and secure. My most sincere congratulations to all of you.
3. I would also like to thank all the parents and teachers for their hard work in guiding and supporting our winners. I’m sure you’re just as proud of their accomplishments, and you have every right to be.
The local team has done well to keep Singapore safe and secure
4. Today, we don’t just award a prize. You are about to join the ranks of the local team. And, the local team officers have always fulfilled the mission of maintaining the safety and security of Singapore.
(a) The Gallup Global Law and Order Index in 2020 ranked Singapore first for seven consecutive years. In the same report, 97% of Singaporeans surveyed “feel safe walking alone at night in their neighborhood,” compared to a global average of 69%.
(b) In the 2021 global fire statistics, Singapore has one of the lowest fire death rates in the world. This is even lower than in many developed countries like New Zealand, the United States and Japan.
5. Our officers at home also maintained a high level of service which supported public confidence in the local team. In a survey we conducted in 2021, more than nine out of ten respondents felt that the local team performed well in keeping Singapore safe.
6. Even throughout this pandemic, our local team officers continue to contribute to the national response and fight against Covid-19. SPF officers, for example, carried out ground patrols, intensified screening of public spaces and contact tracing. SCDF has transported over 10,000 COVID-positive patients and over 23,000 suspected cases. ICA’s SafeTravel office has had to work with numerous agencies to accommodate various travel patterns and corridors, and to provide seamless immigration clearances, even when borders open. Our CNB officers also assisted the Department of Health in managing individuals under quarantine and isolation orders and investigating violations under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Regulations (Control Order).
7. While we have done well in the past, and throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, however, we must continue to elevate our skill levels as our operating environment continues to evolve and become more challenging. Let me give you some challenges we face today, as a society, as a nation:
(a) While physical crime has decreased, the number of scam cases has increased in Singapore, along with an increase in online activities and transactions by the general population.
(b) Drug abuse among young people remains high and this is exacerbated by a general more liberal attitude towards drug use that occurs all over the world.
c) In the meantime, terrorism remains a real threat. International terrorist movements continue to radicalize individuals around the world, primarily through online methods. Singapore, being a highly connected city, is not spared from this.
The home team should always be ready for future challenges
8. Therefore, it is important and essential that we remain vigilant and ready to face new forms of threats and challenges. Let me highlight some of the strategies and approach we are taking.
9. First, we must ensure that our policy frameworks and organizational structures remain relevant to address these threats, while remaining effective. For example:
(a) We have established multi-agency and whole-of-government entities to coordinate efforts to combat threats such as terrorism and fraud.
(b) We are also reviewing and updating our regulations to ensure that they remain effective in the face of these new threats. For example, we have strengthened our firearms, explosives and weapons laws to strengthen our levers to promote their safe handling to further minimize the risks posed by the possession of these weapons. We will also introduce a new framework for dealing with and regulating new psychoactive substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
c) Finally, in the execution. This year, we will establish the Anti-Scam Command to coordinate SPF’s anti-scam strategies and investigation and response efforts for rapid action against scams. We will also continue to work with global security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to share information, conduct joint operations and also increase our capabilities.
10. In addition to the regulatory framework and structures, we also need to continue to invest heavily in technology to improve our capabilities:
(a) The SPF, for example, has deployed cameras in public spaces that deter, detect and solve crimes. Artificial intelligence will be applied to improve the meaning-making of these sequences.
(b) Robots and drones are deployed to augment SCDF’s firefighting capabilities.
(c) Facial and iris recognition technology is used in the multi-modal biometric system at checkpoints to facilitate safe and smooth immigration clearances.
(d) SPS also uses facial recognition technology to allow detainees at Selarang Park Complex unescorted access to the area in specific, secure areas. Smart cameras are equipped with video analytics to detect irregular behavior and ensure a safer environment for our inmates.
11. I am glad to hear that five of our graduates today will be pursuing courses in the field of science and technology, and you can apply and contribute to the technological transformation of the local team in the future.
12. In addition to the regulatory framework and technology, we must also continue to strengthen our stakeholder engagement with various community partners. We work closely with some of these partners, including our local team volunteers, even our students in school uniform groups and I know some of you have been members of our school uniform groups, community monitoring as well as first responders. They are important stakeholders and partners with whom we work closely across society and as part of a multi-pronged approach to achieving our mission and successfully keeping Singapore safe.
A solid organization with a committed and qualified workforce to ensure the success of the mission
13. At the heart of our local team’s success is and always will be our people – our skilled, highly dedicated and highly engaged workforce.
14. It is important that we continue to recruit people who possess the right values of integrity and courage, and who are committed and passionate about saving Singapore.
15. Many of our award winners have been inspired to join the local team after learning about what we do through the various touchpoints and experiences in their lives so far. Let me quote a few of you:
(a) Pearlyn Chee Siew Peng, an SCDF Home Team (study) diploma recipient, witnessed the professionalism of the paramedics who provided pre-hospital care to his grandfather after he fell at home. The paramedic team’s dedication to caring for her grandfather motivated her to join SCDF.
(b) Nurul Athirah Binte Abdullah, a recipient of SCDF’s ITE sponsorship, grew up listening to the exciting experiences of his father and sister, both police officers. Their stories fueled his passion to be part of the local team. Although she will join a different department, but will still be part of the local team.
(vs) Kliffin Tan Jing Ning was encouraged by her father, a former police officer, to consider a career with the SPF. It is now rewarded with SPF ITE Sponsorship.
(D) A’Aqil Zhafif Bin Syed Abdul Hafiz, winner of the Sponsorship of the SPF Diploma, was exposed from an early age to the work of the Reception Team by his father, a police officer. A’Aqil’s father would take him to events such as the Home Team Festival, which gave him a deep appreciation for the home team’s work. These experiences cemented, until today, his desire to serve our nation and finally he took a step forward. I just can’t help but notice that many fathers and family members who are police officers have had such a positive influence on children, and now they join you in making Singapore safe.
(e) Finally, Chong Wei Xianthe ICA Diploma sponsorship recipient, was impressed with the positivity and professionalism of our ICA officers at checkpoints, and therefore decided to pursue a career with the ICA.
16. I’m sure many of you have your own stories. I can’t name all of your experiences with the local team that triggered your decision to join us, but suffice it to say that I’m very confident that every Singaporean and every resident of Singapore would have been impacted by the good work of the local team. Team one way or another through our lives.
17. Today’s award marks the start of your personal growth and development with the local team. Within the Home Team, we attach great importance to continuous training and we support our agents in their skills development throughout their career. Our agents will have the opportunity to take certification courses to improve their skills through seminars and even degree programs at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.
18. Throughout your career there will be different career paths for specialization, progression and exposure. These will be made available to ensure our officers have a meaningful career with the local team.
19. Allow me to conclude. I am very happy that our winners have chosen to join the local team. My most sincere congratulations to all of you. This is a significant achievement in your academic journey, but more importantly, it is an even bigger milestone because you have chosen to pursue a noble and meaningful career after graduation.
20. I warmly welcome you and my Home Team colleagues to join the Home Team family and wish each of you every success in your studies and careers.
21. Thank you.