Left: Diandrea Ho Siu Ping is a Local Merit Scholar, studying for a Bachelor of Science (Economics) at Singapore Management University.
Right: Oh Yong Yang oversees investigations into money laundering and financial crimes as the Head of Financial Investigations Branch I at the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).
Two characteristics define a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), or Home Team, officer – a growth and learning mindset and a commitment to apply their knowledge to keep Singapore safe. Methods of perpetuating crime are evolving to become more efficient and varied and the Home Team members need to be constantly innovating to stay ahead of security challenges.
Embracing this ethos are Diandrea Ho Siu Ping and Oh Yong Yang.
Diandrea is a Local Merit Scholar who is pursuing her studies at Singapore Management University (SMU). The 21-year-old will be joining the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), ensuring that Singapore’s borders are secure against the entry of undesirable goods and people.
As for Yong Yang, he investigates financial crimes as the Head of Financial Investigations Branch I at the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD). A commercial affairs career is one of the 5 civilian tracks offered under the new MHA Merit Scholarship.
The work that they do may be different, but collectively, they keep Singapore safe and secure.
Learning to Protect
Since childhood, Diandrea was already aware that to keep up with a changing world, she herself must be an agent of transformation. To that end, she embraced a philosophy of constant learning, which lead to Economics as her choice of study.
“I gained an interest in Economics in Junior College as I felt that it allowed me to view the world and think about how people behave and make decisions from an interesting perspective,” she elaborated on her decision. “It is a very versatile discipline which holds significance across many fields.”
She is currently studying a Bachelor of Science (Economics) at Singapore Management University under the Local Merit Scholarship, immersing herself in analytical thinking strategies and behavioural economics.
As strong as her desire to understand the world through economics was an equally powerful aspiration to use her knowledge for the public good. After searching through the Public Service scholarships on offer, the Home Team stood out to her for its wide variety of opportunities and the chance for a meaningful and impactful career.
“Out of all the exciting roles that officers can play across all the Home Team Departments, I eventually decided to join the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) because the importance of border security stood out to me,” she elaborated on her choice of organisation.
Personifying her dedication to learning, Diandrea spent her summer break at an internship with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) acquiring first-hand knowledge of its work. She was posted to ICA’s Airport Command, where she had the opportunity to go on frontline attachments, collaborate with different home team departments and assist in projects. In addition, she gained a nuanced understanding of immigration clearance and border security, as well as the importance of good leadership.
Her academic and practical takeaways will stand her in good stead when she joins the Home Team as an Inspector in 2022. ICA is in the thick of its transformation efforts to become more data-driven and efficient in protecting Singapore.
While advancements like the BioScreen-Multi Modal Biometrics Systems, a state-of-the-art system which uses a combination of biometric identifiers for more efficient and secure immigration clearance at ICA, have already been implemented, the road of digital transformation still carries on – and Diandrea is eager to make her mark.
“I am looking forward to learning about the many other aspects of ICA’s work in the near future, including ops-tech, policy planning and international relations,” she extrapolated. “The nature of operations for officers will be very different and many adjustments will have to be made.”
“Through using technology as an enabler, I hope to make the work of our officers easier and more efficient, so that they can perform even more effectively in their various roles.”
Evidently, home security is nebulous by nature and Diandrea advised aspiring scholars looking to join the Home Team to embrace its uncertainties. She said: “You will definitely be making a decision with limited information and foresight of how it will turn out, but if you do eventually decide to take up a scholarship and a career with the Home Team, then it is ultimately up to you to make it the right decision and make the most out of the opportunities given to you!”
Commercial Crime Fighter
If Diandrea is the picture of a fresh-faced rookie with a passion to serve, Yong Yang, who oversees two teams of officers within the CAD’s Financial Investigation Branch I, is the grizzled veteran of the ministry’s anti-money laundering efforts. He and his team investigate cases involving complex money laundering, and fraud committed by employees of banks and financial institutions acting in their official capacity.
Also, as the staff authority for money laundering investigation, Yong Yang analyses crime trends and works with other agencies to initiate legislative changes to address weaknesses found in Singapore anti-money laundering regime. He engages and collaborates with local and foreign law enforcement agencies to work on money laundering cases where the offences tend to straddle across multiple jurisdictions.
In essence, Yong Yang’s role is multi-faceted and requires him to work with many stakeholders. It all comes down to having the right expertise, experience and attitude, which he has in spades.
Most certainly, the 33-year-old has come a long way since switching over from the private sector. He used to work in a reputable accountancy firm, but joined the Home Team after learning more about the enforcement work conducted by the CAD and their prosecution of criminals.
“I was drawn to the line of investigation because the work is challenging, the process is enriching and the results are meaningful,” he enthused.
However, a background in a relevant field like accountancy is not enough to succeed as an investigator. Over the years, he developed holistically, picking up essential skills while on the job. For one, he elaborated that officers must be able to think on their feet especially during the operations where there will be surprises and challenges.
“Officers should also possess good communication skills and be able to empathise with victims, as well as have the courage to stand firm when dealing with challenging suspects during interviews.”
Even with a sizeable portfolio, Yong Yang aspires for more in a bid to expand his horizons. He said: “I see myself going on secondment to other law enforcement agencies within or even beyond Home Team.”
He emphasised that a variety of opportunities are available in the Home Team for all CAD officers.
“Over the years, we have officers who were seconded to other SPF units such as Criminal Investigation Department and Police Intelligence Department. Officers also get assigned to departments within Ministry of Home Affairs like the Casino Regulatory Authority and agencies outside the Home Team, for instance, the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.”
However, these opportunities are only open to those willing to dedicate themselves to the rigours of police work and more importantly, keeping Singapore safe and secure.
Yong Yang advised: “You will be at the frontline to safeguard Singapore’s integrity as a world-class financial and commercial centre. If you have a passion for investigation and a sense of justice, I would highly recommend a career with the CAD!”