06 August 2014

Speech by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs at the Home Team National Day Observance Ceremony 2014

Chairmen of the Home Team Boards, Councils and Committees,
Home Team colleagues, volunteers and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,

             This year, we celebrate Singapore’s 49th birthday. The theme for this year’s National Day celebration is “Our People, Our Home”. We have come this far as a country because of the efforts and unity of our people, who have worked hard together to make Singapore our best home.

2.         Safety and security provide a firm foundation for all that we do. Today, as we celebrate National Day as one Home Team, I would like to show our appreciation for three groups of people: our Home Team Pioneers, our Home Team Community Partners, and our Home Team Officers.

Our Home Team Pioneers: Laying the foundation of safety and security

3.         First, our Home Team Pioneers. The early years leading up to, and after, Singapore’s independence were difficult ones.  Our Home Team Pioneers tackled serious security challenges – secret societies, a penal riot, armed robberies, communist-inspired student and industrial unrest, racial riots, drugs, and serious outbreaks of fires.  They showed courage, hard work and determination, and contributed towards the peace and security, social harmony and unity which have made us a stronger and more resilient nation.

4.        As we celebrate SG50 next year, the Home Team will organise a series of activities to honour and thank our Home Team Pioneers, and remember their contributions and sacrifices to keep fellow Singaporeans safe and secure. One highlight will be an exhibition in the Combined Operations Room at the former Police Headquarters in Pearl’s Hill Terrace. The venue is significant to many Pioneers, as it was the nerve centre for dealing with many of these major crises. The collection of photographs, personal effects and stories will not only bring back memories for our Pioneers, but will also be invaluable for current and future generations of Home Team officers to learn about our history and shared values.

Our Home Team Community Partners: Working together for a stronger partnership

5.           Second, our Home Team community partners. The Home Team has worked with our community partners to keep Singapore safe, whether against the scourge of crime or the threat of terror, or when responding to medical emergencies or fires. To the many volunteers, partners, advocates and champions of the Home Team, we thank you for your commitment and for supporting the work that we do.

6.         Today, we recognise 73 members of the public for their civic mindedness, and 10 volunteers and partners for their contributions to the Home Team mission. They have demonstrated exemplary acts of bravery and unselfish behaviour, such as saving children from a fire in a neighbouring apartment, or chasing after a robber who was armed with a knife. We thank all our award recipients for helping to protect Singapore and Singaporeans from harm.

Home Team Officers: Making Singapore our safe and secure best home

7.         Last, but not least, the dedicated Officers of our Home Team. The Home Team concept was conceived in 1995 to harness the synergy across different agencies, to enhance our ability to maintain law and order, and protect and save lives. Over the past 20 years, we have strengthened the Home Team, so that officers share a common Home Team mission and vision beyond their individual departments. Besides working together in joint operations, we are also seeing more Home Team collaboration in key future-oriented areas such as operations-technology development, border security and data-sharing. I encourage our Home Team officers to continually explore ways to work together more effectively.

8.            Working as one Home Team, we have achieved significant outcomes in our work, whether in busting drug syndicates, arresting immigration offenders, rehabilitating prisoners, responding to medical and fire emergencies, or combating crime. In January this year, I presented the Minister for Home Affairs Operational Excellence Awards to 39 Police officers for their exemplary performance and excellent teamwork in the safe rescue of an elderly kidnap victim, and the swift arrest of the two perpetrators.

9.              This morning, I will present 105 Minister for Home Affairs Awards to Home Team officers to recognise their outstanding performance.

10.             I am also happy to announce a new award to recognise Home Team officers who have responded to deal with major incidents – the Home Team Operational Service Medal. This Medal will be presented for the first time in September to about 180 Home Team officers who responded to the call of duty during the 8 December riot in Little India.

11.            The Ministry of Home Affairs will also ensure that the Home Team provides rewarding and meaningful careers, with opportunities for professional and personal development, and competitive salaries which keep pace with the market and are commensurate with the skills and demands required of our officers in the Home Team. The Ministry has recently undertaken a salary review, and our officers can expect some good news, which is being released today. 

12.            I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the family members of our officers. Our officers put in long hours, and face numerous challenges in the course of their work.
It is only with your support, that our officers are able to dedicate themselves to the important work of keeping Singapore safe and secure. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Conclusion: A Best Home for Our People

13.            As we celebrate National Day, we take pride in Singapore being one of the safest cities in the world. This has been possible only with the significant contributions of our Home Team Pioneers, the continued support and partnership with the community, and the hard work and dedication of our Home Team officers. We will continue to work together with our partners and the community, to ensure that Singapore remains our safe and secure home for many more generations to come.

14.              I wish everyone a Happy National Day.