Left: Dr Lee Mian Rong is a Lab Analyst (Forensics - DNA Forensics and Invest
Support) in HTX. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry from the
National University of Singapore and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry &
Biological Chemistry from Nanyang Technological University.
Right: Ng Zhi Hao, recipient of the Local Merit Scholarship, is currently an Investigation Officer (IO) at the Central Narcotics Bureau. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from the National University of Singapore.
MHA is responsible for the vital task of safeguarding Singapore’s safety and security. So it comes as no surprise that the Home Team is a large organisation made up of 11 separate agencies, each responsible for different aspects of Singapore’s homeland security. Its officers and teams are always on the lookout for new threats in our increasingly complex environment.
To counter these threats requires that many officers with different skillsets work together and continuously innovate so that the best solutions are deployed to keep Singapore prepared. At MHA, opportunities abound and a variety of career pathways exists for those who want an exciting yet fulfilling career.
On the surface, Ng Zhi Hao, an Investigation Officer (IO) with the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), and Dr Lee Mian Rong, a Lab Analyst, may appear to be in different fields and vocations. They are indeed holding different jobs but are both part of the larger team contributing towards a single purpose of keeping us safe and secure.
How did they land up with the Home Team?
In Search of a Meaningful Career
Zhi Hao recalls how, while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, he asked himself about the sort of career he wanted after graduation. “I wanted to be working for something more than just a salary,” he recounts. “I wanted to play a part in something bigger, more meaningful and where my contributions are appreciated.”
He decided on the Ministry of Home Affairs, also known as the Home Team. In today’s security climate, Zhi Hao felt that the work at MHA would be both meaningful and interesting.
He was surprised that MHA offered a variety of scholarships with opportunities to be part of the uniformed services as well as civilian schemes of service. He scouted around and shortlisted the Local Merit Scholarship (LMS).
What really sealed his interest in a CNB career was the opportunity to be attached to the Bureau’s Enforcement Division. He experienced first-hand the work of CNB’s Enforcement officers on the ground. The dynamic nature of the work, how everyone worked as a team resonated with him. He was also impressed that the Bureau did more than just enforce the law – it had a holistic approach towards safeguarding Singapore from the perils of drug abuse. “The stimulating job, opportunities to develop new skillsets and apply my mind made me decide to take up the scholarship with CNB,” he explains.
He was subsequently awarded the LMS scholarship, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Being Part of a Multidisciplinary Team
“Having colleagues with skillsets from various disciplines truly helps synergise innovation and problem solving at the Bureau,” Zhi Hao affirms. While his degree in Chemical Engineering might not be directly related to his work in CNB, his training equipped him with the useful skillset of problem-solving in a systematic manner through the application of root cause analysis.
Similarly, when Dr Lee Mian Rong joined the MHA as a DNA Analyst, she experienced a steep learning curve as she had to adjust from her original field of study in Chemistry, to Biology. However, Mian Rong was undeterred and recognised that she was in fact value-adding to the team while learning new skillsets at the same time. With support from her colleagues, coupled with her passion for the job, she quickly grew into her role.
Or, in her case, “roles” would be more accurate.
“My work is dynamic and can take me to many places in a day. For instance, I could be at the lab in the morning doing DNA analysis, then at a meeting with vendors later in the day to discuss ongoing projects or explore the latest instruments that can help us become more effective at work. Occasionally, I also get to train Home Team officers at the Home Team Academy,” she explains. “As a person who loves to be on the go, the varied opportunities that this job offers me is something I really enjoy.”
The recent launch of the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), the Home Team’s latest Statutory Board dedicated to the development of science and technology in the Home Team, has excited Mian Rong about what is to come. HTX will bring about more opportunities for in-house labs or for more collaborations with academic institutes to develop new capabilities for the Home Team agencies.
Lab analyst, trainer, investigator, researcher – the dynamic career opportunities and in-house science and technology capabilities that the Home Team offers - are some of the reasons Zhi Hao and Mian Rong have chosen a career with the MHA.
Guardians of Our Home
Both Zhi Hao and Mian Rong shared that aside from the variety of opportunities to learn and do new things, they were drawn to the fact that they are doing meaningful work.
“There are bound to be times when we feel tired from the work challenges,” Zhi Hao tells us. “However, the thought that what I do every day has a direct impact on the safety of my family, friends and all who call Singapore home – that motivates me to push ahead.”
In Zhi Hao’s case, what keeps him going is knowing that he is part of the team which not only enforces but also helps. Apart from investigation work, CNB officers also administer a supervision programme which helps ex-drug offenders stay clean and well.
For Mian Rong, what motivates her are the daily opportunities to do impactful research, that will lead to the development of new capabilities to enhance the Home Team’s operations and effectiveness to keep us safe. “During a television feature about the Home Team Festival, one of the MHA scientists shared about her work involving the testing of incoming cargo and people for narcotics and explosives. To do that real-time was exciting. She was also very inspiring to me. Her vigilance and diligence directly contribute to the safety and security at our checkpoints,” she recalls.
Mian Rong concludes: “The work we do every day is purposeful and contributes towards something tangible and important to me – keeping Singapore safe day after day. I think that this is a fantastic reason to join the Home Team!”
WORKING AS ONE HOME TEAM
The Ministry of Home Affairs comprises 11 agencies that work collectively to keep Singapore safe and secure. They are:
- Ministry Headquarters
- Singapore Police Force
- Immigration & Checkpoints Authority
- Home Team Academy
- Internal Security Department
- Singapore Prison Service
- Singapore Civil Defence Force
- Central Narcotics Bureau
- Home Team Science and Technology Agency
- Casino Regulatory Authority
- Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises