Home Team has kept Singapore safe through a challenging year: Shanmugam

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the Home Team kept Singapore secure through the many national events and aided international efforts during disasters.
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the Home Team kept Singapore secure through the many national events and aided international efforts during disasters.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - The Home Team has kept Singapore one of the safest countries in the world throughout a challenging year, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said on Wednesday (Dec 30) as he paid tribute to officers.

In a note posted on Facebook, Mr Shanmugam said the Home Team kept Singapore secure through the many national events organised during its Golden Jubilee year, and aided international efforts during disasters.

These included the national mourning for founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the SEA Games, the jubilee weekend celebrations, the general election, and the Nepal and Sabah earthquakes.

"Because of you, these events proceeded smoothly and Singaporeans were able to attend and participate in them safely," said Mr Shanmugam.

He added that the year has also been a busy one, with several new laws being introduced - including the Liquor Control (Supply & Consumption) Act, the Organised Crime Act and the Remote Gambling Act - that will give the authorities more teeth to fight crime.

New initiatives were also introduced to cope with an increasingly challenging operational environment, said Mr Shanmugam.

In January, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) launched the Integrated Checkpoints Command (ICC) bringing the country's border operations under a single unfied command.

The police also rolled out its Community Policing System at all 35 neighbourhood police centres this year.

Under the system there would be more police officers and volunteers on the ground, with CCTV cameras installed at more than 4,400 HDB blocks and carparks.

More community partnership initiatives were also launched, said Mr Shanmugam.

The SCDF implemented its Save-A-Life initiative and MyResponder mobile app - which sends alerts out to trained volunteers in the event of a distress call to a suspected heart attack.

The Police launched its Vehicles-on-Watch project - which saw police cameras installed in cars belonging to members of the public, and it also jointly started the Neighbourhood Active Responder (Near) Programme with the SCDF. The programme trains volunteers life-saving and other emergency skills so they can respond to emergencies before paramedics arrive.

"On the rehabilitation front, our Yellow Ribbon Project has inspired similar movements in other countries, such as the US, Australia and the Philippines," said Mr Shanmugam.

But he added that the Home Team would continue to face threats from terrorism, and international pressure against its hardline stance on drugs.

To that end, Mr Shanmugam said his ministry has secured a multi-year resourcing arrangement from the Ministry of Finance, which will ensure that the Home Team is adequately resourced for the next few years.

During the Budget debate this year, it was announced that the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) expenditure was expected to increase by about 12 per cent to around $5 billion for the next financial year.

This was so challenges including terrorism, cybercrime and the needs of an ageing population could be met.

MHA also intended to add 2,000 officers to the Home Team over the next five years.

"This certainty of resources allows us to make long term strategic plans. The Home Team has started on a transformational journey to plan ahead and develop new ways of doing our work in order to better tackle our challenges," said Mr Shanmugam.