Security guards in Singapore may soon have a day to call their own, if the efforts of an industry group bear fruit.
The Security Association of Singapore, which represents 80 security firms, is pushing for an annual "security officers day" on July 24. The date was chosen as these guards work round the clock, or 24/7, said the group's president, Mr T. Mogan.
"By raising the profile of security officers, we hope to also encourage the public to show their appreciation to them, as they do to teachers and nurses, who have their own 'days'," he told The Straits Times.
The other date the group thought of was Sept 11. "We considered Sept 11, but dropped the idea because it was a sad day where so many people died," he said. On that day in 2001, a terrorist attack involving four hijacked planes caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 people in the United States.
On a brighter note, the group plans to hold a public ceremony on July 24 for members to recite a pledge to protect Singapore against crime and terror threats, as well as an exhibition to showcase career opportunities and help attract new blood.
The move comes amid a severe manpower crunch in the security guard sector. Industry players estimate that some 50,000 guards are needed, but only about 40,000 are actively working, a shortfall of about 10,000.
There are more than 66,000 unarmed security guards licensed by the police. Many of them do not take on work because of the long hours: It is the norm to work 12 hours a day, six days a week.
Industry players back the idea of an annual security guards day. A police spokesman said they welcome the move to recognise the contributions of security officers.
Mr Zainal Sapari, the National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general, said the labour movement is open to working with the association on the event.
"We will not steal its thunder," he added.
Mr Chua Chwee Koh, chief operating officer of Certis Cisco Security, said "a day of recognition is worth considering", but suggested a joint celebration with the police instead.
Member of Parliament Zainudin Nordin, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, hopes the move will remind the public to show appreciation not just to guards, but also those doing low- wage but critical jobs such as cleaners, landscape workers and delivery staff.
While some security guards welcome the idea of having their own day, at least one was lukewarm. "What matters more is how our bosses and public treat us every day," said security guard Edmund Chua, 59. "What is the point of being nice to us just for one day?"