Home Team, SAF win praise for work in challenging year

Shanmugam, Ng Eng Hen pay tribute to personnel for their efforts here and abroad

The Home Team has helped Singapore to remain one of the safest countries in the world throughout a challenging year, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday as he paid tribute to officers in a year-end message.

In a Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam praised the Home Team - which comprises 10 agencies, including the police and civil defence force - for keeping Singapore secure through events and crises both national and foreign.

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

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

He added that several new laws have also been introduced this year - including the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act and the Organised Crime Act - that give the authorities more teeth to fight crime. New initiatives were also introduced to cope with a more challenging operational environment.

In January, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority launched the Integrated Checkpoints Command, bringing the country's border operations under a single command.

The police launched its Community Policing System, which saw CCTV cameras installed at over 4,400 HDB blocks and carparks.

More community partnership initiatives were also unveiled.

Mr Shanmugam added that the Home Team will continue to face threats from terrorism and international pressure against its hard-line stance on drugs.

To that end, he said his ministry has secured a resourcing arrangement from the Ministry of Finance to ensure the Home Team has adequate resources for several years.

The Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) expenditure is expected to increase by about 12 per cent to around $5 billion for the next financial year.

The MHA also intends to add 2,000 officers to the Home Team over the next five years. Mr Shanmugam said:"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."

In a separate Facebook post yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen thanked soldiers from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for an "exceptional year".

He cited unexpected events that the SAF had to respond to, including the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the Nepal earthquake, the burning peatlands in Indonesia, and helping to search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501.

"Through it all, we continued to train hard and keep up the tempo of our usual activities," Dr Ng said.

"I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the men and women of the SAF who gave of their best this SAF50 year and achieved all that was expected of us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'Home Team, SAF win praise for work in challenging year'. Print Edition | Subscribe