Next generation leadership key to tackling new trends, increasing threats: Shanmugam

(From left) Mr Lua Jiong Wei, Mr Kagen Lim and Mr Justin Tan, who are all recipients of the SPF Scholarship.
(From left) Mr Lua Jiong Wei, Mr Kagen Lim and Mr Justin Tan, who are all recipients of the SPF Scholarship. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said that the Home Team has embarked on a "transformation plan" that will make it more data-driven by 2025.
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said that the Home Team has embarked on a "transformation plan" that will make it more data-driven by 2025. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Home Team has embarked on a "transformation plan" that will make it more data-driven, networked and able to take on a broader perspective by 2025, said Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam at an award ceremony in the Istana on Thursday (Aug 11).

Key to this plan, he added, is recruiting and retaining officers with the right skills, attitude and values.

Mr Shanmugam gave out three Singapore Police Force (SPF) Scholarships and 21 others including the Singapore Government Scholarship and Local Merit Scholarship on Thursday. It is the first year both the SPF Scholarship and Home Affairs Uniformed Services Scholarships and Awards are given out together.

Besides an increasing terror threat, Singapore is dealing with new trends including a rise in cybercrime as well as challenges from its ageing society and position as a major transport hub, said Mr Shanmugam, who is also the Law Minister. About 200 million people pass through the country's borders each year.

To deal with such issues, the Home Team's work will change as it adopts new operating models, technologies and partnerships, he added.

Officers' future work will tap on different data sources such as sensor systems from Closed Circuit Television, live feeds and police cameras, supported by artificial intelligence. This reduces the time needed to gain a clearer picture of an incident.

They will also be more connected to their Home Team colleagues and the public, by crowdsourcing from mobile apps such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force's myResponder and the police's I-Witness. The myResponder app calls qualified volunteers to suspected heart attack cases until emergency services arrive, while I-Witness allows a person to provide information about criminal activity to the Police.

Technology and data will also help to anticipate factors that contribute to offending and other complex issues, the minister said. This work will be handled by the next generation of leaders, he added, congratulating this year's scholarship recipients.

The three SPF Scholarship recipients told reporters before the ceremony that they were inspired to join the police to work with communities and safeguard their security.

Seeing the police arrive to resolve a bloody confrontation at the void deck of his Yishun flat gave Mr Kagen Lim a renewed appreciation of this security as a primary school student. Three secondary school students had ganged up on one other.

"I was terrified... I never knew that could happen in Singapore," said Mr Lim, now 19, who had been on the way home from school. He added: "My mum called the police and brought me aside. That moment when the police arrived was a very reassuring moment for me."

As an SPF Scholarship holder, he will soon join their ranks. Mr Lua Jiong Wei and Mr Justin Tan, both 19, also received the scholarship.

Mr Lua, a self-professed fan of television series CrimeWatch as a child, took interest in the force after various police attachments, including a three-day stint with the Bedok police division.

He recalls joining officers on their patrols to Geylang: "You need to be very sensitive to what's happening on the ground."

"But above all, he is driven by a hope to maintain security here, which enables things like economic growth to take place.

"That's a purpose I identify with," he added.