Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
Features | National & Home Defence

Serving in the Home Team

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) are part of the Home Team under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The various Home Team departments serve diverse but complementary functions, all working to secure a safe home for all Singaporeans. We hear from two Home Team officers who let us in on the thrills and challenges of their respective careers.

The achievements and successes of tomorrow are made possible because of the courage of today’s leaders in confronting challenges and their passion in serving their fellow citizens. The Public Service Commission affirms the potential of these passionate young leaders by conferring the President’s Scholarship on them. One such President’s Scholar and concurrent Singapore Police Force Overseas Scholar is Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jonathan Au Yong, who, today, is serving with the SPF as an investigation officer at Bedok Police Division.

Jonathan tells us that his request to be attached to this particular division was prompted by the desire to delve into the operations of one of the busiest land divisions in Singapore which polices a wide range of terrain, including the restless streets of Geylang. He tells us, “I am exposed to a wide spectrum of crime and come into contact with different strata of society. With the Tampines and Bedok terrains also under our watch, I get to be exposed to neighbourhood criminal activities such as unlicensed moneylending and petty theft in addition to crime associated with prostitution and secret societies in Geylang. My experiences have also made me realise that the victims of crime today can well become the perpetrators tomorrow.”

"It is fulfilling to know that the work I do contributes to the bigger purpose of the public service of building a peaceful society in Singapore."

Given the dynamic operations of the Bedok Police Division and the relentless pace at which Jonathan’s team works to quash the scourge of crime, Jonathan can take pleasure in the accomplishment of having stood up to his baptism of fire well. He credits his Singapore Police Force Overseas Scholarship (SPFOS), awarded by MHA, with giving him a macro view of the Force’s diverse operations through exposure to different units in the SPF.

ASP Long Ying Ying
Local Merit Scholar

Designation: Programme Management Executive, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Division, Singapore Prison Service

Studied: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology,
Nanyang Technological University


One other distinguished recipient of the MHA scholarship is Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Long Ying Ying. Ying Ying is now a Programme Management Executive at the Rehabilitation and Reintegration Division of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), a role which sees her managing rehabilitation programmes for inmates and reviewing existing rehabilitation policies in SPS. She is better equipped to do her job today because of the insights gained from her previous posting, which saw her serve as a Housing Unit Officer in the Changi Women’s Prison.

A Broad Overview

When Ying Ying was a Housing Unit Officer, she facilitated rehabilitation programmes and recreational activities for inmates in addition to maintaining discipline and order in the Housing Unit. Her insights and experiences there have put her in a better position to manage these programmes today so as to ensure the inmates’ effective rehabilitation. She tells us, “It is fulfilling to know that the work I do contributes to the bigger purpose of the public service of building a peaceful society in Singapore.”

In fact, Ying Ying was also given many internship opportunities within SPS during her undergraduate days. She was an intern at the Correctional Research Branch, where she assisted in the team’s conducting of research studies, and at the Recruitment Branch where she facilitated career talks and learning journeys for aspiring Prison Officers. She explains, “The early exposure of work in SPS has not only given me a head start in my career, but also a better appreciation of the work that SPS’ Captain of Lives do in contributing to the overall operational efficiency and effectiveness of SPS.”

ASP Jonathan Au Yong Kok Kong
Singapore Police Force Overseas Scholar / President’s Scholar

Designation: Investigation Officer,
Bedok Police Division, Singapore Police Force

Studied: Bachelor of Arts in Global Affairs,
Yale University, US

"Our work inculcates in us a sense of empathy. Even at the police station, we attend to people who could possibly be having the worst days of their lives."

Jonathan, too, was granted opportunities to be exposed to different facets of Police operations before his current posting as an Investigation Officer. Even while he was studying overseas, Jonathan had opportunities during his summer vacations to be attached to various police units. These included stints at the Geylang Neighbourhood Police Centre, where he participated in anti-vice operations against prostitution-related activities. He was also given the opportunity to be deployed to the Special Operations Command during the inaugural Singapore Youth Olympic Games (YOG). After his studies and just prior to commencing nine months of Police Training with the Police Training Command (TRACOM), Jonathan was attached to the Operations Department where he got some insights into the intricacies of how policies and standard operating procedures for Police operations are crafted.

Today, besides his core duties as an investigation officer, Jonathan is also involved in maintaining order at various large-scale events such as the Singapore F1 Night Race and AFC Suzuki Cup, where he is part of the plainclothes security deployment. He adds, “The Suzuki Cup sees different nationalities come together, and the human dynamics within the stadium often produce soaring emotions. This is when the threat to public order is real. Our role there is important because we ensure that there are no overt displays of nationalism that threaten law and order.”

A Career Unmatched By Any Other

A career with the Home Team allows one to get in touch with one’s emotional side, as both Jonathan and Ying Ying can attest to. Jonathan recalls his first suicide case – and how he had to break the heart-wrenching news to the family of the breadwinner who had fallen to his death. He tells us, “Our work inculcates in us a sense of empathy. Even at the police station, we attend to people who could possibly be having the worst days of their lives. They come in distraught and demanding, and we do our best to alleviate their distress by assuring them that the Police will spare no effort to investigate their cases and take the appropriate actions.”

For Ying Ying, she tells us that her stint with Changi Women’s Prison gave her the chance to interact with a 20-year-old reformative trainee, who had an estranged relationship with her mother who was also incarcerated for years. She shares, “Through our interactions with both mother and daughter, we managed to encourage them to write to each other during their imprisonment, and it was heartening to see the daughter returning to Changi Women’s Prison to visit her mother after her release. We helped to build familial ties for the both of them, and it is fulfilling to know that what we do makes a positive difference to the lives of so many.”

Jonathan identifies with this sense of fulfilment, adding, “I make a real impact when I put a criminal behind bars and restore a degree of justice. I go home each day feeling satisfied because I know that I have helped to maintain the security of Singapore and increase the country’s standards of safety.”

"It is a job that exposes you to a whole gamut of human experiences and is one that teaches you humility."

Opportunities to Learn and Grow

Apart from having the unique opportunity to maintain safety, law and order and be involved in security challenges that confront our society, MHA scholars also find meaning in their own personal and professional development. For instance, Jonathan’s undergraduate experience at Yale University in the US gave him the opportunity to attend a lecture by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and other bigwigs in the field of International Relations. This offered him international insights and allowed him to see things from a global perspective. Jonathan tells us, “Given that crime is not localised and Singapore is so globalised, it was insightful to learn what other countries are doing to secure their borders and how countries counter trans-national terrorism.”

After fulfilling his stint as an Investigation Officer, Jonathan will be posted to undertake planning and / or policy type of work in one of the Police units. He will thereafter move on to a command posting, which will see him lead frontline police operations and engage in community liaison. He tells aspiring MHA scholars that a career with the SPF or the MHA can be taxing and often seem thankless, but is indeed a deeply rewarding one. “It is a job that exposes you to a whole gamut of human experiences and is one that teaches you humility.

“Our job can get depressing if you allow the sufferings of other people to affect you. It is important to stay upbeat and adaptable to change, and maintain a cool head in the face of challenging situations. It also does help to have a good sense of humour!” Jonathan concludes with a laugh.