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K Shanmugam: Taiwanese auxiliary police officers to be stationed at land checkpoints

In a written answer to a Member of Parliament, Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam stated that the government will allow Auxiliary Police Forces (APFs) to recruit Taiwanese Auxiliary Police Officers (APOs) and have them deployed at land checkpoints due to the shortage of Singaporean auxiliary officers.

Mr Shanmugam was responding to questions filed by MP for West Coast GRC Patrick Tay Teck Guan who asked the Minister for Home Affairs about the manpower challenges facing the auxiliary Police forces (APFs) and what are the Ministry's considerations when allowing the deployment of foreign auxiliary Police officers (APOs) at security sensitive locations.

Mr Shanmugam wrote that APFs are important partners to the Home Team and the APOs are deployed for a range of security functions, including protecting sensitive installations and providing security at major events. The APFs are regulated by the Singapore Police Force.

He noted that the demand for APOs will grow due to the rising threat from terrorism, and major infrastructure projects that require security manpower like Changi Airport Terminal 4 and the new Tuas Port.

"Our clear preference is to recruit Singaporean APOs to meet this rising demand," he stressed, noting that the APFs have made significant efforts to do so, for example, providing signing and retention bonuses, and enhancing career progression.

"This has allowed the APFs to add over 300 Singaporean APOs over the past year. But this is still not enough to meet the projected demand over the next few years. There is a manpower shortage everywhere," Mr Shanmugam said.

According to the minister, local workforce growth is slowing, and it is difficult for the APFs to find enough Singaporean candidates who meet the requirements.

"To meet the shortage, we have allowed the APFs to hire Malaysian APOs. But even that pool has been shrinking, and our APFs have been finding it difficult to recruit enough Malaysian officers who meet the requirements. They needed to look for officers from other countries." wrote the Minister.

The Minister had earlier said in the Parliament in 2017 that the government will allow APFs to recruit Taiwanese APOs.

In deciding where non-Singaporean APOs can be deployed, the minister stated that MHA considers the operational needs and risks specific to each security-sensitive location.

"Our requirement was that land checkpoints, for example, be manned only by Singaporean APOs – and that has been said in this House," he noted.

However, he stated that operational needs are growing significantly, everywhere, including the checkpoints, saying, "Visitor numbers are growing, and at the same time, the threats of terrorism have risen substantially."

He then points out that as the security situation has become more complex, requiring more officers, the government have decided to allow Taiwanese APOs to be deployed at the land checkpoints alongside Singaporean APOs because there are not enough Singaporean APOs available.

In December 2016, The Online Citizen reported that the company had posted an advertisement in Taiwan, seeking to employ potential APOs from Taiwan as an effort to booster the numbers of officers to support the understaffed Singapore Police Force.

Certis CISCO Security Pte Ltd then confirmed with local media that it hoped to hire 120 university graduates as its auxiliary officers from Taiwan, aged 20 to 40, on two-year contracts. Certis CISCO said the first batch of Taiwanese APOs would be ready to be deployed after April 2017.