Certis Cisco launches recruitment drive for auxilary officers in Taiwan

Local security company, Certis CISCO Security Pte Ltd is seeking to employ potential auxiliary officers from Taiwan as an effort to booster the numbers of officers to support the understaffed Singapore Police Force.

According to the advertisement that was published on various recruitment websites, the recruitment drive is seeking to hire 30-50 potential auxiliary officers. It has also been reported by Taiwanese media that there has been recruitment campaigns at various universities during December.

Advertisement listed in a Taiwanese recruitment website

The criteria of the applicant stipulated in the advertisement states that the applicant has to be a university graduate, possess a basic command of English language, driving license, a height of above 167cm with a body-mass index of 29 and below, with no bad habits.

The interested applicant is informed that the duties of the auxiliary officer include:

  • To provide armed security to maintain peace and order
  • Patrol of government and non-governmental units
  • To escort VIPs, maintain security at ceremonies
  • Protection and escort of suspects and criminals
  • Surveillance and perform checks at immigration checkpoints

There is said to be nine weeks of training, which include:

1. Basic Singapore law
2. Individual physically fitness test
3. Police weapon training
4. Unarmed police combat
5. Anti-terror training
6. Basic instructing
7. Armed patrol duty

The applicant will start the career with the rank of corporal with a promised monthly salary of S$2575+s$100 with a entry bonus of S$4000. The work will be based on 12 hour shifts with overtime salary. Air-conditioned dormitories would be provided, one would only need to pay for utility bills and meals. Applicants will be issued with either Work Permit, S pass or Employment Pass and assistance will be given to apply for Permanent Residence if performance is exemplary. They will enjoy various annual bonus, performance bonus, medical insurance and welfare. There will also be a return ticket provided at the end of the two-year term.

The interview is set to commence at two locations, Taipei and Kao Hsiung in January next year. The applicants would be expected to travel to Singapore within a month after they are confirmed through the arranged interview.

According to UpMedia, Singapore’s first attempt to source auxiliary police officers in Taiwan is likely due to the recent change in its conscription law which only requires the males to serve a four-month period of military service as compared to the previous one year. This change would likely result in an increase of male graduates into the employment market.

Despite the attractive pay for a low ranking corporal, it is still to be seen if there would be a surge of applicants to take up the job which would require one to live away from one’s home country for an extend period of time. Upmedia also pointed that earlier attempts by Certis Cisco to attract Malaysian graduates since 2007 have not resulted in much success either.

Certis Cisco, a fully owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, has a monopoly to supply manpower support to various departments of the Ministry of Home Affairs, ranging from immigration, traffic control duties, law enforcement at hot spots, such as Little India and Geylang. Just recently in 2014, Parliament passed a bill to allow the auxiliary officers to look after inmates at the prison.

During the commission of inquiry for the 2013 Little India Riot,  former Police Commissioner, Ng Joo Hee revealed that the size of the SPF has not kept pace with the population increase, said the force would need a further 1,000 more officers if it is to beef up its anti-riot capabilities, and to continue to keep Singapore safe.

It has since been revealed that Singapore has very low police officer to population ratio of 170 officers per 100,000 population.

Ms Sylvia Lim, Member of Parliament for Aljunied spoke on the reliance by SPF on Auxiliary Police Officers in 2014, voicing her concerns on the rampant practice of outsourcing.

Today, the number of Auxiliary Police Officers stands at 6,000 officers, compared with over 8,000 regular officers in the Singapore Police Force. At the Woodlands checkpoint, APOs make up 20% of officers. Recently, the Prisons Act was amended to expand the role of APOs to allow them to conduct inmate escort and patrols within prison premises.

Will the trend of outsourcing of police, security and emergency functions to private operators increase further? If so, where is the line to be drawn before we see the quality of functions compromised and cost-effectiveness eroded? Should the issues be dealt with not by outsourcing, but instead by allocating more resources and support for recruitment and retention to the Home Team? And instead of outsourcing with its limits, should we not focus on “best-sourcing” instead?

I would like to point out three problems. First, APOs do not have the same level of training as regular officers. Regular officers go through a six-month basic training course at the Home Team Academy, while auxiliary officers attend a much shorter in-house training course offered by Aetos or Certis-Cisco. Police officers also attend continuous training to keep their skill up to date with societal and criminological developments. The esprit de corps of belonging to the Home Team also instills a greater sense of purpose, pride and discipline.

Second, best-sourcing is about choosing a provider, be it a public agency or a private sector provider, who could deliver the services most efficiently and effectively. Here we have a paradox. To maintain standards, private operators have to comply with equivalent deliverables and ensure their staff are just as competent in those functions. If the public officers also have to conduct constant auditing and supervision to ensure the outsourced entity is up to mark, as in the case of emergency ambulances, wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to increase the regular services?

Third, best-sourcing is targeted at non-strategic functions of public agencies, so as not to compromise public health and safety. But what are considered non-strategic security functions to be outsourced to auxiliary officers? As the recent breach at Woodlands Checkpoint suggests, the secondary security check by the APO is very important and has implications on public safety.

With 300,000 people and 130,000 vehicles passing Woodlands checkpoint each day, co-ordination between ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority), SPF (Singapore Police Force) and APOs is a huge challenge. Likewise, prison inmate escort within the prisons is not merely a security function but requires proper training to ensure the prisoner’s rehabilitation is not compromised. Furthermore, injuries or death of an inmate resulting from improper handling can be disastrous for the services. In today’s complex policing environment, every police officer requires strong situational awareness and adaptive leadership skills, and foresight in exercising discretion.

Outsourcing clearly has its limits. Should the focus instead be on Home Team manpower recruitment and retention, and ensuring they have the best resources on hand to protect our Home?

Ms Lim pointed in her speech in April 2016 that for auxiliary officers, only Singaporeans, permanent residents and Malaysians are eligible to apply. This makes Certis Cisco’s recruitment drive in Taiwan questionable.

She goes on to note that there seems to be a large presence of Malaysians in CERTIS and AETOS uniforms, and asked the Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam:

“One officer recently told me that the ratio allowed is five Malaysians to one Singaporean and I wonder if that is true. Are there guidelines on any duty or assignments which must done only by Singaporeans? For example, at the immigration checkpoints, are there Malaysians checking their fellow Malaysians and what would the risk be there?”

The Minister replied, “There are today about 7,000 APOs deployed in Singapore. They are either Singapore Citizens, PRs who are Malaysian citizens, or Malaysian citizens. Ms Lim asked if there is a ratio of five Malaysians to one Singaporean. No. That is not correct. Thankfully. More than half of the APOs are Singaporeans…”

If Certis Cisco does indeed conduct a successful recruitment drive this coming January, the Minister would have to change his statement the next time round Ms Lim poses this question in Parliament.

TOC has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs for comment and will include the response when they reply.

Update: Certis CISCO has confirmed with local media that it is recruiting 120 university graduates from Taiwan.