Ministry of Home Affairs
Feature | Organisation

Pathways to protect
the nation

Ministry of Home Affairs
We hear from two Home Team members about how their careers have taken them through interesting journeys in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

Singapore is our home – a place where we live, work and play, a place where our family and loved ones reside. Working tirelessly to keep our home safe and secure is the group of dedicated heroes from The Home Team.

The Home Team comprises 10 agencies. This includes the Ministry of Home Affairs Headquarters, Singapore Police Force, Internal Security Department, SCDF, ICA, Singapore Prison Service, Central Narcotics Bureau, Home Team Academy, Casino Regulatory Authority and Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises. Each targeting a different area of security, but are all bound with the common goal to keep our home safe and secure.

Courageously rising up to fulfil this duty are Kalaivanan s/o Pannerchilvam, Senior Operations Management Executive, ICA, and Chen Yong Kai, Commander, Bukit Batok Fire Station, SCDF. They share how they have bravely stepped up to serve, and how the Ministry of Home Affairs has, in turn, enabled them to develop stellar careers.

Driven by Honour

Both Kalaivanan and Yong Kai were drawn to the civil service by the passion of officers they had met previously. For Kalaivanan, this was at a recruitment booth at NUS where he spoke to Home Team officers about their work.

He recalls, “They spoke with a strong sense of pride and passion. I told myself that if I could still speak with that same amount of pride and passion a decade or two down the road, a career with MHA was worth taking a chance on.”

Yong Kai on the other hand was inspired by the passion of his parents, both of whom served in the civil service. Also, the opportunity to apply for an MHA scholarship arose shortly after the devastating September 11 attacks. Yong Kai was moved by the consequences of the attack and desired to be able to protect Singapore from similar threats. As such, the SCDF’s mission to protect and save both lives and property resonated with him and he chose the scholarship as he viewed it a privilege to be part of their elite team.

Chen Yong Kai

Chen Yong Kai 
Local Merit Scholarship

Commander, Bukit Batok Fire Station
Singapore Civil Defence Force

“The Life Saving Force has helped equip me with a variety of skills and the versatility to handle a range of different tasks.”

Moving with Integrity

Today, as Commander of a fire station, Yong Kai ensures that his team is operationally ready to render emergency services. It is an exciting job, and he has countless memories of times he has been called upon for fire-fighting and rescue incidents. The most memorable of which, is a time he managed to rescue seven people trapped in a burning condominium.

Yet his role extends from responding to the present, into planning for the future as well. Yong Kai is heavily involved in innovation projects to help the SCDF improve their future capabilities. One such project was to develop Unmanned Fire-fighting Machine, technology that took the SCDF’s fire response capabilities to the next level.

He also led the team to further enhance the capabilities of the SCDF’s emergency response vehicle that is more affectionately known as the Red Rhino. This project, called the LF5G, saw the enhancement of the Red Rhino to also include emergency medical technician capabilities.

While Yong Kai’s role is focused on the streets within our borders, Kalaivanan‘s role is at our borders, safeguarding the nation from threats originating on the outside. His role includes overseeing operational policies, formulating and reviewing operational guidelines for implementation across the checkpoints.

Integrity, he says, is crucial, regardless of the task at hand. He believes that as a public servant, it is only when his work is conducted with integrity, will he be able to successfully impact the public and build trust with the people. “It is especially rewarding when I see checkpoint operations improve with the policies I have written,” he shares.

Kalaivanan s/o Pannerchilvam

Kalaivanan s/o Pannerchilvam 
Senior Operations Management Executive
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

“It is especially rewarding when I see checkpoint operations improve with the policies I have written.”

Opportunities for Growth

To support Kalaivanan’s development, he has participated in dialogues with MHA senior leadership and attended training courses to hone his policy writing skills. He has also attended seminars on topics such as terrorism and security – all with the end goal of broadening his horizons and keeping him updated with industry trends.

Yong Kai, too, has had his share of development opportunities. He has attended courses on policy development and programmes to hone his leadership and communication skills. He has also attended overseas conferences on topics such as homeland security, and on the latest chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

Fondly recalling these times, he enthuses, “I have an all-rounded career with development opportunities. The Life Saving Force has helped equip me with a variety of skills and the versatility to handle a range of different tasks.”

He declares that he has no regrets for his choice of career. He has been tested in various ways, literally walked through the fire and emerged unscathed and victorious. He advises those who choose the same path as him to work hard and persevere.

He emphasises, “At the end of the day, you will be rewarded with a fulfilling career and immense job satisfaction.” “We understandably have a sense of uncertainty when picking our first jobs after graduation, because we want a strong career foundation in establishing the right values, guidance and exposure when we start off,” Kalaivanan muses.

To aspiring public servants, he advises, “If you are looking for a meaningful career, an organisation that values your personal development and a desire to contribute to Singapore’s safety and security, I would encourage you to apply for the MHA Scholarship.”