We do not often pay much attention to Singapore's high standards of safety and security. Neither do we actively recognise the efforts of those who maintain these standards. However, if we pause to reflect, we realise that we have much to thank the members of Home Team for.
The Home Team – comprising the SPF, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the SPS, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) – works endlessly to keep our country out of harm's way. They are the reason we are able to walk the streets at night safely and sleep with a peace of mind.
Two individuals who have courageously chosen a career with the Home Team are Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Wong Keng Hoe and Deputy Superintendent of Prisons (DSP) Luke Leong. ASP Wong serves in the SPF as an Operations Officer, while DSP Leong is the Officer-in-Charge of Housing Unit (OCHU) at SPS' Pre-Release Centre. They share about their contributions to the Home Team and, in effect, ensuring a safe & secure Singapore.
Seeing Meaning in Their Work
At SPF's Operations Department, ASP Wong is part of a tight-knit team that handles doctrinal issues and development projects for frontline police officers. His responsibilities include developing new deployment models, ensuring police officers are equipped with correct weaponry, and providing insight into police incidents involving the use of force.
He is competent in this area of work given his numerous postings in various aspects of policing. These experiences have offered him insight into the needs of those on the ground. For instance, when he was required to stay awake for close to 40 hours to work on a vandalism case – one in which vandals spray-painted graffiti on the side of a SMRT train – he better understood the challenges that confront investigation officers and the trainings that would be suited to their needs.
Apart from the vandalism case, ASP Wong also remembers seeing to the case of a foreign worker who died in the course of work. He recalls, "I had to investigate to ensure no foul play occurred in the death, and had the solemn responsibility of arranging for his family to identify his body afterward. As none of his family members had any passports or visas to travel to Singapore, I also worked with the Embassy to secure proper documentation. This was a particularly poignant case for me as I learnt that being a police officer did not just mean putting criminals behind bars, but also providing resolution and solace to victims."
Wong Keng Hoe
Recipient of the Singapore Police Force Scholarship (SPFS)
3 Operations Officer, Frontline Policing Division, Singapore Police Force
On DSP Leong end, his role as OCHU requires him to oversee operations and casework to prepare inmates for their release and reintegration into society. He tells us that one of his major work challenges is in trying to break inmates' resistance to change. "I try to overcome this challenge by having purposeful interactions with them," he tells us.
He derives great satisfaction when he sees ex-offenders turning over a new leaf and leading transformed lives. DSP Leong shares, "It is indeed fulfilling to see these ex-offenders visiting the pre-release centre to share stories of their own rehabilitation journeys with inmates due for release. Their stories help to inspire the inmates to start anew and lead better lives outside of prison."
He also values the synergy among his fellow officers, specialists and other stakeholders, sharing that "It is humbling to be able to work together towards our shared vision of inspiring every one, at every chance, to return to society without re-offending."
Leong Chee Ming, Luke
Recipient of the Singapore Government Scholarship
Officer-In-Charge of Housing Unit (OCHU), Pre-Release Centre, Singapore Prison Service
Keeping a Positive Attitude
While ASP Wong and DSP Leong have learnt much throughout their respective journeys in the Home Team, they hope to gain even more learning opportunities through new and upcoming challenges.
ASP Wong shares, "At 26 years old, I am still a rookie in policing and look forward to learning more from my more experienced colleagues. This includes matters related to contingency planning, intelligence and crisis management. Many home team departments are also undergoing transformation efforts that will pay off in the next ten years – it is an exciting time to be in the SPF as we reorganise ourselves and deploy technologies to tackle new challenges."
DSP Leong looks forward to touching more lives – not just those of inmates, but of young officers under his charge. "I want to make a difference in more lives," he muses. "Beyond SPS, I look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of how the Home Team works to keep Singapore safe and secure."
To readers exploring their scholarship options, ASP Wong offers his own nugget of wisdom. He concludes lightheartedly, "At 18, a scholarship may seem like the be-all-end-all, but there are truly many pathways to success. Do not be disheartened if applications do not work out as planned – from someone slightly older, I know that good things come to those who continue to hustle!"