S ingapore is our home – a place that holds our family and friends, and a place where we work, play and live. Thus, it is beyond a shadow of doubt that we need a hardy team to safeguard our home.
The Home Team was set up for this very purpose. With key priorities like prisons management, the rehabilitation of ex-offenders, anti-drug enforcement, and immigration and checkpoints security, the Home Team stands united to reduce and deter crime and criminals. Bound by duty to serve with honour, integrity and moral courage are Singapore Government Scholarship recipient Tan Wee Zi and Local Merit Scholarship recipient Joey Tan.
A NOBLE CAUSE
Wee Zi admitted that her career goals during her younger years were never set in the uniformed service. It was only in her Junior College days that she was attracted to meaningful messages embedded in captions like “Captains of Lives” and “Yellow Ribbon Project”. It appealed to her because it involved rehabilitating offenders and helping them turn over a new leaf. In knowing that the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) would allow her to make a difference in the lives of inmates, Wee Zi took up the Singapore Government Scholarship.
Joey Tan Yang Yi
Recipient of the Local Merit Scholarship
Senior Officer, Enforcement Division, CNB
On Joey’s end, his time in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) during National Service motivated him to pursue a uniformed service career. Passionate about serving justice and keeping Singapore’s streets safe, he found great purpose in what he was doing in the Home Team. He thus applied for the Home Affairs Uniformed Services (HUS) scholarship and was awarded his local scholarship with the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). The opportunity to pursue a career in CNB fulfilled his interest in the area of drug enforcement, having witnessed the devastating effects drug abuse had on abusers and their families.
Fast forward to today, Wee Zi fulfils her duties as Senior Manager (Rehabilitation) in MHA’s Policy Development Division. Together with stakeholders such as SPS, CNB, Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Wee Zi develops policies and strategies relating to offender and drug rehabilitation. She shares, “The most fulfilling part about my current role is knowing that the policies I’ve helped to implement will shape the correctional landscape which SPS is playing an active role in. Our job has a ripple effect – each offender who does not return to prison will be able to leave a positive impact on their families and the society.”
On the other hand, Joey is currently Senior Officer at CNB’s Enforcement Division. His role requires him to supervise former drug abusers and arrest recent ones, and to investigate drug offences – all in a bid to sweep drugs off the streets. Like Wee Zi, he finds his job fulfilling because it brings about greater societal good. “A career in the public service offers more opportunities for one to make the most direct beneficial impact to society,” Joey shares.
Tan Wee Zi
Recipient of the Singapore Government Scholarship
Senior Manager (Rehabilitation), Policy Development Division, MHA
OFFICERS WITH A HEART
Wee Zi’s first posting was to a male institution in SPS as a Housing Unit Officer. As a young female officer fresh out of university, she was initially concerned about gaining the respect of other officers and effectively managing the large group of older male inmates. However, she soon came to realise that her concerns were unfounded. She shares, “In the Housing Unit, we worked as a team to manage the inmates. I quickly learnt that as long as I treated the inmates fairly and professionally, my age and gender were non-issues.”
After Wee Zi was posted out of the unit, she attended an event in which one of her ex-inmates approached her. Touched by Wee Zi’s efforts at advising him to stay away from drugs and alcohol, and to spend more time with his mother upon his release, he expressed his gratitude to her. Of this encounter, Wee Zi muses, “This incident made me realise that my actions as a prison officer can have a profound impact on someone else’s life.”
Joey, too, has had his share of memorable encounters at CNB. He tells us about a particular operation to arrest a female drug abuser. He recalls, “What was heartbreaking was that we had to arrest the mother while her child cried incessantly. It was emotionally difficult to pacify the child and assure her that her mother would only be gone for a while. This episode was memorable as it showed me first-hand how drug abuse can result in a family break up, and how important it is for us enforcement officers to be humane to the subjects we arrest.”
Wee Zi cautions that a career in the SPS is not for everyone. She explains, “Our work environment is not the most pleasant of working places, and the conditions can be challenging at times. It is not always easy to work with offenders, and it can be demoralising when some of them re-offend and return to prison. However, the work that we do is inherently meaningful. This is what motivates me and many prison officers to continue our pursuits in inspiring change in offenders. If you have a heart to serve and would like to make a difference, this would be a choice career for you.”
Joey rounds off the interview with some advice of his own. He highlights that apart from good time management and flexibility, one needs to possess key qualities such as courage, professionalism, determination and integrity. He concludes, “It is also important to ask yourself if your personal values and qualities are aligned with that of the Ministry you wish to join. Think about whether you desire to achieve the vision of the organisation that is offering the scholarship. If all is aligned, do not be afraid to apply for a scholarship – it might just lead to the dream career of your lifetime.”