The Singapore Police Force (SPF) is maintaining its current recruitment policy, said its spokesman.
Superintendent Ho Yenn Dar, Assistant Director, Public Communications (Public Affairs Department), SPF, said that other than the Gurkha Contingent, the police recruits Singaporeans as regular officers.
He added that “a small number of permanent residents (PRs) who have shown commitment to serve are also recruited.”
“The police also have PRs who are serving their National Service and as volunteers in the Volunteer Special Constabulary,” Supt Ho said.
“The police are maintaining our current recruitment policy,” he said in his letter to the press on Thursday, which was in response to public concerns about the SPF possibly recruiting foreigners to shore up its ranks in light of a shortage of manpower.
The concerns [see here and here] were raised after the police’s manpower director, Tan Hung Hooi, was reported to have said on 3 May that the SPF was considering recruiting foreigners.
He reportedly said “what kind of numbers, as an organisation and as a society, we are prepared to take in … is something that still needs to be further deliberated on.”
He was speaking at a Police Workplan Seminar which was attended by some 200 junior college and polytechnic students.
The Police Operations director, Lau Peet Meng, also speaking at the event, further explained why the presence of foreigners might be important in the police force.
He said that “diversity within the force is good to keep up with changes in society.”
“We need, to some extent, some sensitivity to understand our foreign population,” he reportedly said. “The danger is if it’s (purely Singaporean), you will lose touch with the people you’re policing.”
He added: “I think it’s very important for the police, operationally, to be aware that we do need some kind of interaction with foreigners, some kind of understanding and some people who actually know those communities well and are able to interact with them, connect with them … Whoever’s living in Singapore, we need to know them well in order to police them.”
One of the concerns raised by the public is that of foreigner-police officers being privy or having access to sensitive information about Singapore.
“Police officers are an integral part of the criminal justice system,” said Mr Lai Yew Chan in a letter to the press. “They are thus privy to official secrets and privileged information.”
“Although a hierarchy of security clearances can be instituted, the risk will remain that some rogue foreigner-officers may cultivate a network of insiders to perform intelligence mining. The reality is the allegiance of foreigners would lie with their home country.”
“Bringing in foreigners would be a different ball game because it would introduce exogenous complexities. The police must then strive to be both race-blind and nationality-blind. We cannot disregard that foreigners would bring their value systems into our police culture.”
Incidentally, in the Police Pledge, officers pledge to be “loyal and true to the Police service and the Republic of Singapore”, and “to serve our community and our country and to be courteous and humane in our dealings with every fellowman.”
The SPF currently has a strength of 8,000 officers, but its Commissioner, Ng Joo Hee, said during the Committee of Inquiry hearing into the Little India riot in February that the force was short of 1,000 officers.
The Gurkha Contingent is believed to consist of 2,000 officers who are recruited from villages in Nepal. The Gurkhas have been a part of Singapore’s security set-up since 1949. It is used mainly to guard key installations and provide additional support to the SPF during special events.