Post NSFs to work as ICA checkpoint officers

I believe that Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam's recent visit to Woodlands Checkpoint was a gesture of appreciation and a morale booster to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers working there (Checkpoint officers working their guts out: Shanmugam; Dec 28, 2018).

He also commented that ICA officers have been "working their guts out" and putting in long hours, and that they have to be alert because of the heightened security risks during peak travel periods.

If the minister could see the manpower and work problems that these officers have to contend with, I am surprised that ICA's manpower division has yet to take action to mitigate this problem.

Also, as the border control agency, ICA has a very important role to perform as the first line of defence in protecting Singapore against the entry of undesirable goods and people by land, sea and air.

Hence, I disagree with Mr Tan Soon Hock that ICA should hire retired and retrenched people as it is definitely not in Singapore's security interest to do so (Hire retired, retrenched people to boost ICA manpower; Dec 29, 2018).

A more feasible solution would be the use of full-time national servicemen (NSFs).

Currently, every NSF is deployed to a vocation based on his suitability, skills, interests and the operational requirements of the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Singapore Police Force.

As ICA is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the ministry should post NSFs to the authority to work as checkpoint officers and beef up its manpower at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints.

This will tackle some of the manpower issues at the checkpoints.

Lionel De Souza

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2019, with the headline 'Post NSFs to work as ICA checkpoint officers'. Print Edition | Subscribe