K Shanmugam: Auxiliary Police Forces (APFs) sourced from Taiwan as a result of growing demand

Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam stated that the Government is looking for possible sources of Auxiliary Police Forces (APFs) from Taiwan as a result of a growing demand as the APFs has have indicated that they will not be able to recruit sufficient suitable Singaporeans to meet this projected demand.

This is his response to questions filed on 9 January by Ms Sylvia Lim, MP for Aljunied GRC, who asked the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Government has changed its policy on restricting eligibility for employment in the police, auxiliary police and private security industry to Singaporeans, permanent residents and Malaysians, if so, which additional source countries have been approved for each of the three sectors respectively, and from which effective dates, and what is the prevailing quota or dependency ratio ceiling set by the Government, if any, for the employment of foreigners to Singaporeans for each sector respectively.

The questions come after news reports of 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.

Certis CISCO Security Pte Ltd had confirmed with local media that it hopes to hire 120 university graduates as its auxiliary officers from Taiwan, aged 20 to 40, on two-year contracts.

The Minister stated that the Singapore Police Force’s current practice has been to recruit Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) as police officers.

He said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) requires the majority of Auxiliary Police Officers (APOs) in the Auxiliary Police Forces (APFs) and security officers in the private security industry to be Singaporeans.

The APFs and security companies are also required to adhere to the dependency ratio ceiling set by MOM. While he said that for APOs, Malaysia had been the only approved foreign source country.

Mr Shanmugam said that the demand for APOs is growing due to new infrastructure such as Changi Airport Terminal 4 and Tuas Terminal, and heightened security threats.

“It is estimated that another 600 APOs will be required over the next few years,”

In the last five years, despite their best efforts, the APFs have only been able to expand the pool of Singaporean APOs by 250 officers.

Therefore, he stated that to meet the growing demand, APFs are exploring Taiwan as a possible source for APOs and MHA has decided to allow the APFs to recruit Taiwanese APOs to supplement the current pool of Singaporean and Malaysian APOs.

According to the Minister, these Taiwanese APOs are required to meet the same training, education and physical fitness criteria as imposed on Singaporean and Malaysian APOs. In addition, the Taiwanese APOs must be able to communicate in English and pass an English proficiency test.

“Their specific deployment will be determined based on our risk assessment and operational requirements,” he said.

Mr Shanmugam said that MHA will assess and review the performance of the Taiwanese APOs after they have been deployed for a period of time.

Editor’s note – What the Minister failed to mention is why it has been hard to hire locals or even Malaysians to perform the work as APOs.

In Singapore, APOs are in reality, nothing more than security guards given uniforms that are similar to the Singapore Police Force. Low pay and long back-breaking working hours have caused the profession to suffer a high turn-over rate and locals shunning the recruitment drives.

Taiwanese are sought for because they can speak Mandarin and their pay for graduates is lower than of other developed countries. Also they can be easily converted to PRs or Singaporeans after their two year contract, which allows Certis Cisco to maximise its foreign worker quota.

The issue cannot be addressed through conventional means because the pay and working hours are pledged to conventional security guards. Firms such as Certis Cisco faces resistance in raising the pay from pressure subjected by security companies that do not want to pay more for the security guards. An example of the failure of the much acclaimed tripartite solution.