With around 5.8 million lives at stake, keeping Singapore safe and safeguarding our interests is imperative to securing our future and homeland. Under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Home Team works in tandem with the community by taking care of crucial aspects of our society such as immigration, counter-terrorism, border control, civil defence, and public safety.
In the face of external threats, like terrorism, and internal threats, like radicalisation, the role which MHA plays becomes even more relevant. Part of the team are 45-year-old Cheng Wee Kiang, the Deputy Director for automation and robotics, and Deputy Superintendent of Institution A5 of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), Clifford Lin, 32, who share with us their responsibilities under the organisation and how their scholarships have given them an edge.
Cheng Wee Kiang
DSTA Postgraduate Scholarship
Deputy Director (Automation and Robotics),
Human Factors Office, Office of the Chief Science and Technology Officer, Ministry HQ
Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) Hons II Upper – National University of Singapore
Master of Science in Combat Systems Technology – Naval Postgraduate School, USA
Master of Science in Defence Technology and Systems – National University of Singapore
Elaborate on your roles and responsibilities for your department.
Wee Kiang: As Deputy Director, Automation and Robotics, I lead a team of engineers in identifying promising automation and robotics technologies which can be developed into operational prototype systems to support Home Team officers in their work. To ensure that the prototypes meet the operational requirements of the Home Team, the team works closely with the Home Team Departments in conceptualising, designing, building, testing, and evaluating these new systems.
Clifford: As Deputy Superintendent of Institution A5, I support the Superintendent in the overall management of the prison. This includes taking care of and developing the great men and women who work alongside us, ensuring the smooth day-to-day operations of the institution, and overseeing the rehabilitation of the inmates under our charge.
How has your overseas education equipped you for your role?
Wee Kiang: I was awarded an overseas postgraduate scholarship in 2003 to pursue my Master’s Degree at the Naval Postgraduate School in USA. On one hand, the academic curriculum had significantly built up my technical knowledge, but more importantly, the overseas stint had exposed me to a different cultural and educational experience. I learned to work with classmates from different parts of world and understood how each of them solve technical problems in their own unique ways. This valuable experience has definitely helped equip me with the skills to tackle technical issues from wider perspectives, resulting in more robust science and technology (S&T) solutions.
Clifford: My post-graduate degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice gave me a better understanding of the different reasons why crimes may be committed, and made me realise that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to address crimes. Applying this to my work in prison, every inmate has his reason for committing the offence he did. As Captains of Lives in a correctional agency, it is important for us to understand each inmate under our charge and find out his story, so that we can inspire him to turn over a new leaf and lead life as a contributing member of society.
Beyond academics, my time overseas showed me that the safety and security we enjoy in Singapore is not something that we should take for granted. This drives me to do my part to maintain and protect what we have built over the years.
Singapore Government Scholarship (Singapore Prison Service)
Deputy Superintendent, Institution A5, Singapore Prison Service
Bachelor of Science in Economics (Hons I) – University College London
Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Pass with Distinction)
– King’s College London, University of London
What career opportunities and benefits has MHA provided you with?
Wee Kiang: The MHA S&T community offers both exciting as well as fulfilling career opportunities for engineers like myself to work on. As the Home Team’s operations are extremely demanding and mostly 24/7, problem statements posed to my team are never straightforward or easy to resolve. It usually requires hours of brainstorming, countless discussions, and multiple concept iterations before the final prototype design can be agreed for fabrication. However, all these efforts would be worthwhile when we can witness first-hand our prototype system being physically tested, and subsequently adopted for operational use.
What career opportunities and benefits has your scholarship provided you with?
Clifford: The scholarship allowed me to pursue my undergraduate and post-graduate studies in London without having to worry about finances. I have been with the Singapore Prison Service for seven years since I completed my studies in 2011. In this time, I have taken on four postings, and have learned and grown from each of them. Through these positions, I was also able to forge friendships with many colleagues and make a positive impact on inmates’ lives.
Beyond my core duties, I had the opportunity to gain experiences beyond correctional work. These include leading an editorial team for the SPS annual report, playing the role of a facilitator when I conducted classes for entrant officers, and an attachment stint with the INTERPOL General Secretariat in Lyon, France, for six months. On the whole, since the time I received the scholarship, I have gained numerous exposure and learning opportunities. I am looking forward to more exciting years as a Captain of Lives.