Comprising seven departments, two statutory boards, and one ministry headquarters, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) or Home Team works together towards one common goal – keeping Singapore safe and secure. The Home Team’s strength lies in its people. Every member plays an important role in protecting our country, our community, and our loved ones, while also enjoying the opportunity to grow and maximise their potential.
To find out more about the Home Team experience, BrightSparks checked in with two MHA scholars; 28-year-old Thng Yi Ren gives us a peek into his work at Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), while 23-year-old Aloysius Thum shares his experience as an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) scholar thus far.
What motivated you to pursue a career with MHA?
Yi Ren: One key reason is because I enjoy operational work. In law enforcement, you deal with human beings all the time. You don’t deal with them in the most salubrious of circumstances, because sometimes your work involves having to arrest them and take them away from their families. However, I think that there’s a meaning to that, because there’s a social need for it. The issues we deal with in law enforcement are very serious issues. You may not be acknowledged for your efforts all the time, but the absence of those efforts in law enforcement are clearly felt.
Another reason that motivates me in law enforcement is that you really get to know your country very intimately. It’s not the famous image of Singapore’s glamourous skyline or the global city. You get a real sense of what your country is, including the less glamourous parts like older estates which might have some troubled histories and all.
Thng Yi Ren
Singapore Government Scholarship
Staff Officer, Policy Planning and Research Division
Master in Research Methods – London School of Economics
Bachelor in Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies – University of Cambridge
Aloysius: I have taken on various student leadership roles and that really ignited my passion to serve the community. My time in National Service also strengthened my conviction to protect the country, so it was a natural progression for me to join the public service.
I chose to take up the ICA scholarship as I feel the work that ICA does is very dynamic and comes with many different challenges. We have one of the world’s busiest land checkpoints, and the world’s best airport; both of which require very efficient and secure clearance systems. This made me really excited about what a career in ICA has to offer.
Yi Ren, could you elaborate on your current roles and responsibilities?
Yi Ren: My current post is in policy planning and research. Coming from the frontlines in enforcement and then investigations since I’ve joined, I think this is a good trajectory; I’ve seen how things are done operationally, I’ve seen the judicial side of things. Now, I work on drug policies, and help to articulate what we can’t compromise on and our priorities for how society should be protected against drugs. The nexus of policies and operations is an important one. It helps to drive the evolution of the kinds of policies and environment that we want to safeguard.
How did your scholarship help you to excel at your role?
Yi Ren: During vacations, I had the opportunity to do my internships at CNB, where I got to see different aspects of the agency. From ground attachments, going on frontline attachments with the officers, doing some very basic policy work, to helping to organise events. At the ministry level, we had structured programmes where we went around the different Home Team departments. That gave us a basic understanding of what other Home Team departments are doing and how this whole Home Team concept gels with that. We also had the opportunity to meet the senior leadership of MHA very early on, and I think that’s important because you begin to see where the national imperatives are. You begin to appreciate the decision-making process, including the analysis of trade-off and principals at stake.
Aloysius Thum Yong Ze
Local Merit Scholarship
Bachelor in Public Policy and Global Affairs
– Nanyang Technological University
Aloysius, what are some of the development opportunities you’ve had over the course of your scholarship so far?
Aloysius: Before I started university, we underwent an orientation programme for scholars, where I had the opportunity to meet other scholars of my batch from the different Home Team departments. We had the privilege to visit the different agencies and caught a glimpse of how each of them functions and how they come together and synergise as one Home Team.
I also went through a vacation attachment programme, during which I was posted to the Singapore Police Force for two weeks and gained some insights into SPF’s work. In addition, my two internship attachments in ICA at the Airport Command and Integrated Checkpoints Command (Sea Domain) deepened my understanding of ICA’s mission and gave me first-hand experience of ICA’s work at the frontline securing Singapore’s borders.
Any final words for aspiring scholars who plan to pursue one of the MHA scholarships?
Yi Ren: This is a career for you, if you have an interest in getting to know your country intimately, including the less glamourous parts of it. Your work matters, because what you do has real consequences on people’s lives. It’s a good fit if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and enjoy operational work.
Aloysius: Most importantly, you need to have the passion and conviction to serve. Your values have to be aligned with the organisation, and it’s important to understand the role the organisation plays within the larger context of safeguarding Singapore’s security. I really encourage people to join ICA, because it is not only a job that keeps you on your feet, but also a fulfilling one that presents you with something new to learn every day.