Working overtime to ensure smooth Trump-Kim summit

Assistant Commissioner of Police Tan Chia Han is in charge of security at the Shangri-La Hotel, where the US President is staying.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Tan Chia Han is in charge of security at the Shangri-La Hotel, where the US President is staying.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Among the Singaporeans affected by the Trump-Kim summit is a five-year-old girl - police officer Tan Chia Han's daughter.

She used to ask him each day if he would be home for dinner. These days, she simply asks if he will be coming home.

 

The pace over the past few months has been relentless for Assistant Commissioner Tan, the 38-year-old commander of the police's Tanglin division, which oversees security for Shangri-La Hotel.

After wrapping up operations for the Shangri-La Dialogue one week ago, his team quickly turned their attention to the summit. The hotel is now playing host to United States President Donald Trump.

"I won't be back for the next few nights because I have to make sure 24/7 this place is secure," said AC Tan, who joined the police in 1998.

AC Tan is among 5,000 officers from the Ministry of Home Affairs working overtime to ensure a safe and well-run summit. They are joined by thousands from other ministries, including Foreign Affairs, Defence, Communications and Information, and Transport.

It is a "major operation", given the scale and nature of what is being discussed, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday, requiring a whole-of-government effort.

 
 
 
 

This is underscored by the high level of coordination required - both within and outside Singapore - in matters as seemingly simple as the VIPs' motorcade arrangements. Ms Jessica Tan, 26, a protocol officer with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said: "Movements of VIPs have to be closely coordinated with the police and the Land Transport Authority to minimise disruptions to the public."

She also works with her counterparts from the US and North Korea.

When Singapore was chosen as the summit venue, she felt "a deep sense of pride". "The decision is a clear recognition of Singapore's international reputation," she said.

The same sense of pride and duty motivates AC Tan and his colleagues at the Shangri-La, numbering in the hundreds. Many had to cancel family trips or postpone them. "In my division, there was no officer who came to me and said they were upset that they had to make such sacrifices," he said. "I must say I am proud of them."

As commander at Shangri-La Hotel, he makes the rounds of critical security points to ensure operations go smoothly. He also works closely with the US Secret Service.

At the International Media Centre - the F1 Pit Building - more than 2,500 journalists are gathered in Singapore to cover the summit.

Media liaison officer Syahidah Mohamed Sedri, 25, said she has put Hari Raya preparations on the backburner. "It has been busy, but worth it. For the first time, we will get to interact with foreign media on such a large scale," said the Ministry of Communications and Information officer.

Driven by adrenaline and a palpable sense of history in the making, officers have risen to the occasion. Ms Tan said: "While each of us plays a small part, together, we create something much, much bigger. It is an incredible feeling."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2018, with the headline 'Working overtime to ensure smooth summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe