SINGAPORE - Past and present police officers with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the families of fallen officers who died in the line of duty will be awarded medals and medallions.
The motion to commemorate 200 years of the SPF in Singapore was passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Aug 3) in front of 69 visitors, including Singapore's Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck, in-service officers, full-time national servicemen, Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) officers, civilian officers, retired police officers and two family members of an officer who was killed in the line of duty.
Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam announced the commemorative Singapore Police Bicentennial 2020 Medal, and a medallion for former police officers and their families.
He listed the factors behind the SPF's success, which include the criminal justice system, the quality of leadership in the SPF, and maintaining high trust of the police among the community.
"The public trust of the police sets the tone for the everyday interactions between the police and the community. When a police officer arrives at a scene, people cooperate with his directions, they accept the officer has a right to investigate and manage the incident in the interest of the public. And members of the public largely trust the SPF... This level of public trust cannot be taken for granted," said Mr Shanmugam.
He also paid tribute to officers who had given their lives in the line of duty.
The Singapore Police Bicentennial 2020 Medal will be awarded to officers who were in service for any period last year. This includes regular police officers, NSFs, operationally ready national servicemen and VSC officers.
Former officers who retired or completed their national service liabilities before Jan 1 last year will be awarded a medallion to recognise their contributions.
This medallion will also be given to civilian officers who were in service with the SPF in 2020, as well as the families of officers who had died in the line of duty.
The medal and medallion will be given out in June 2022.
Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who asked to move the motion to commemorate the SPF, outlined the historical contributions of the force, which was started with just 12 officers in 1820. It has grown to 45,000 regular officers, NSFs, civilian officers, volunteers and NSmen.
He noted that Singapore faced many challenges in law and order such as gambling, prostitution, opium abuse and secret society activities. "Faction fighting, robberies, murders, and the use of firearms were so rampant in the 1920s that some nicknamed Singapore, the 'Chicago of the East'," said Mr de Souza.
He added that the efforts of the police "brought about the low crime rates that we enjoy today".
Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) supported the motion but urged that the work of other agencies such as the Central Narcotics Bureau, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, as well as the Singapore Prison Service, not be forgotten either.
She also stressed that effective policing is not just about safety and security alone, as this could entail going overboard and locking up as many people as possible.
"We must never think that safety is the only metric by which to judge the quality of law enforcement agencies. The need to do justice and to act fairly is equally critical," she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat also spoke in support of the motion and added his own personal experience of serving in the SPF for 17 years and helping to set up neighbourhood police posts (NPPs) islandwide.
"Police officers were traditionally seen as macho gun-toting officers. The friendly policeman out to make friends with the public was seen as a step backward. And in fact the NPP system was derided by some as 'No Power Police'," he said.
He added that this softer approach to policing, where the officers worked with the community to deal with potential criminals, was the right choice.
"The heart of it is in the trust and confidence of the public in the police. And this trust and confidence rest critically on the values and attributes of our officers," he said.