More than 200 pioneer ICA officers honoured at appreciation dinner

ICA director of policy administration and international affairs Ho Sow Heng and former assistant superintendent Ismail Batcha were among the ICA pioneers honoured at the dinner on Oct 22, 2015.
ICA director of policy administration and international affairs Ho Sow Heng and former assistant superintendent Ismail Batcha were among the ICA pioneers honoured at the dinner on Oct 22, 2015.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SINGAPORE - More than 200 pioneers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)were honoured for their contributions at a special SG50 Pioneer Appreciation dinner on Thursday night (Oct 22).

Amongst them were Mrs Ho Sow Heng, 65, director of policy administration and international affairs, who was one of the few female immigration officers at the Immigration department in the 1970s.

"It used to be an all-male department. I was one of the five female officers recruited there; I suppose we paved the path," said Mrs Ho.

Another pioneer, Mr Ismail Batcha, 72, recalled how the ICA was put to the test during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) crisis in 2003, only shortly after the agency was established with the merger of the Singapore Immigration and Registration and the Customs and Excise Department.

"It was a stressful time, because you had to take note of passenger lists and contact hotels - it was quite tedious," said Mr Batcha, who was an immigration team leader at Changi Airport at that time. He was an assistant superintendent at ICA when he retired.

Speaking at the dinner, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee applauded the efforts of ICA's pioneers in shaping the agency.

"ICA has grown ...to establish itself as a global leader in border security and identification," said Mr Lee. "These successes would not have been possible without the strong foundation laid by our ICA pioneers."

lesterh@sph.com.sg