Over 300 Home Team officers lauded for exceptional work

Singapore Civil Defence Force Warrant Officer Mohamad Mahathir Ghazali and his team battled an inferno at the CK Building last month.
Singapore Civil Defence Force Warrant Officer Mohamad Mahathir Ghazali and his team battled an inferno at the CK Building last month.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The postman might have unwittingly served as a mule for a drug syndicate which sent out illegal substances by post.

That was until a three-month-long operation by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) last year crippled the syndicate. It led to eight arrests and the largest seizure of Ice last year, with the drugs amounting to about 1.8kg, with a street value of some $324,000.

The team behind the operation was among those recognised at the Minister's Award Presentation Ceremony yesterday, where 175 awards were given to more than 300 Home Team officers.

Said Assistant Superintendent Dean, who was part of the drug bust: "We started with the low-level traffickers. As we worked up the supply line, investigations revealed that the drugs were coming from another country through SingPost."

His full name cannot be revealed due to the nature of his job.

"The important thing is to work up (the supply line) fast and accurately," he added. "Once we found out who was involved... we immediately linked up with SingPost."

After identifying a recipient's address, SingPost informed officers when parcels were to be sent there.

ASP Dean and his team received an Operational Excellence Award yesterday - which is for outstanding projects and operations.

The other awards were the Home Team Achievement Award for collaborative efforts within the Home Team and the Star Service Award for officers who went beyond the call of service.

Singapore Civil Defence Force officers behind the 17-hour firefighting operation at the CK Building last month were also recognised.

Warrant Officer Mohamad Mahathir Ghazali, 34, said it was the biggest fire he saw in 14 years. He was among the first responders on the scene that afternoon and entered the fourth floor of the building with three national servicemen.

"It was dark, it was hot... I didn't know if I would come back out (of the building)," he said, adding that he was responsible not only for his own life but also that of his officers.

When he left the building briefly after half an hour, the flames had spread to the fifth and sixth floors.

"It was a completely different scenario... Windows started to shatter; aerosol cans started to fly around," he added. It took 17 hours and 120 officers to completely put out the inferno. The team received an Operational Excellence Award .

At the event, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam lauded the officers' good work. He cited the CNB, which worked with the Royal Malaysian Police to smash a transnational drug ring, and the Integrated Checkpoints Command's land domain, which started forward security checks for cars arriving at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints.

"That has considerably strengthened our land checkpoints," he said. He added that the dedication of officers "is what makes Singapore what it is today - safe and secure, one of the safest cities in the world, if not the safest."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2016, with the headline 'Over 300 Home Team officers lauded for exceptional work'. Print Edition | Subscribe