SINGAPORE - The highly secretive Security and Intelligence Division (SID) has, for the first time, launched an official website as part of its recruitment drive to seek more talent with diverse experiences.
This comes as the work of Singapore's external intelligence agency - which comes under the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) - has expanded in recent years.
The tasks include assessing the impact of geopolitical developments, disrupting terrorist plots and understanding cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns.
The website outlines its mission, values as well as frequently asked questions and jobs in five areas, ranging from technology to operations to international partnerships.
Mindef said on Monday (July 19) that the website will give Singaporeans a better understanding of the important work that SID does and the opportunity to seek a range of careers, even as much of its operations remains classified for national security reasons.
A senior director with SID, who used a pseudonym, Michael, for operational security reasons, told reporters last week that the fundamental reason behind the website is the need to improve on recruiting Singaporean talent.
"The reason why we need to do this is that the mission of SID over the years has expanded," said Michael, who has worked in the division for 20 years.
Fresh graduates - from the humanities or technology areas - used to be the mainstay of people coming into SID, he added, but mid-career talents are now also on the radar.
The threats facing Singapore have become more complex - they now span counter-terrorism, geopolitics, cyber attacks and information warfare, added Michael.
Even climate change, which could affect the region and the nation's food supplies, is being looked at as part of a multi-ministry effort.
"The reason why we want mid-career (applicants) is because we're looking for a much broader spectrum of talents that would be necessary for us to do our work," he said, adding that SID has hired economists, bankers and lawyers.
Established in 1966, SID works closely with government agencies to protect Singapore from external threats and safeguard the country's interests, said Mindef.
The division provides intelligence and assessments to government agencies, supports discussions on international and strategic issues, and analyses global developments, it added.
Its former directors include the late President S R Nathan, former chairman of the Public Service Commission Eddie Teo and Permanent Secretary for Smart Nation and Digital Government Ng Chee Khern.
In a statement, an SID spokesman said information that enables the organisation to detect and counter threats comes from "wide and varied sources", and the technologies employed to make sense of such data are evolving rapidly.
"By increasing SID's visibility, the website will help us to recruit Singaporeans from diverse backgrounds with the right values and expertise who can contribute towards our mission. It will also help us to strengthen existing linkages and forge new partnerships," added the spokesman.
The website outlines the roles that its officers play in five main areas - research, operations, technology, international partnerships and corporate.
Basic information about the recruitment and security vetting process - which is "rigorous as SID officers are entrusted with sensitive information to safeguard the nation's interests" - is given, along with an online application form.
A list of frequently asked questions includes those on leave benefits, job requirements - applicants must be Singapore citizens, for example - and how long the recruitment process takes.
Describing SID as a key agency safeguarding Singapore's security, Mindef said the division has made significant contributions to counter-terrorism efforts. These include working with other security agencies here in the arrests of Jemaah Islamiah terrorists abroad after they fled the country in the early 2000s, and helping to form the then Joint Counter Terrorism Centre in 2004.
SID also supported efforts to disrupt a terror group's plot to launch an attack on the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort in 2016, said Mindef.
In a quote published on the website, former SID director Eddie Teo said that the organisation has the fundamental role of being the first line of defence for Singapore’s security.
“As long as there is Singapore, there will always be the need for an external intelligence organisation such as SID,” he said.
Before the website was launched, publicly available information about SID was scarce.
A 2001 ST report quoted a former officer as saying that staff are rarely given public recognition or honours because of security and political concerns. A covert equivalent of National Day medals are given but no names are ever published.
Asked if there are risks in opening up the recruitment process, with possibly a surge in the number of applicants, Michael said SID has taken "mitigating measures" as part of a year-long preparation for the launch.
"But I think it is something worth doing. You will get people who may not be so suitable but the (candidates) would find out through the screening and recruitment process."