Lim Kok Thai

High-flying ex-Dty Police Commissioner to head new food agency despite being “motivated” at SPF

The government announced on Thursday (26 Jul) that a new statutory board called the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will be formed in April next year under the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to oversee food safety and security.

The agency will bring together all the food-related functions currently carried out by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) under one agency.

The new agency SFA will manage food safety, hygiene regulations and address issues of food supply, streamlining licensing standards for food businesses, including farmers, food manufacturers, food retailers and food service operators. It aims to “enhance regulatory oversight from farm to fork”, the government added.

A National Centre for Food Science will also be established under SFA, consolidating the food laboratory capabilities of the three agencies.

Mr Lim Kok Thai who is currently the CEO of AVA will be heading the new SFA.

High-flying police scholar

Lim Kok Thai is a high flying scholar from the Singapore Police Force. He became the CEO of AVA last year (1 Oct).

Prior to helming AVA, he was the Deputy Commissioner of Police. Lim who is 45 this year, is said to have “gleaned a wealth of operational and policy experience”.

According to information from the National Archives, Lim first joined the Police Force in 1996 as an Assistant Superintendent of Police and has held various key appointments in the Singapore Police Force. They include the Director of Operations and Commander at the Bedok Police Division. He also served as the Senior Director, National Security Coordination Centre, National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS) at the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014.

As the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Lim oversees the Staff Departments, ensuring that the different staff functions (including Planning, Manpower, Logistics, Training, Administration and Finance) are operating at the optimal level to support SPF’s capability to prevent, deter and detect crime.

Specifically, Lim was involved in the planning and implementation of various initiatives to unify the Police Scheme of Service, optimise the deployment of Police National Service resources and strengthen Community Partnership.

He also closely supervised the implementation of the Unified Police Scheme which among other initiatives, merged the junior and senior police officer schemes and created a new Expert Track for talented specialist police officers. He led the conceptualisation and planning, and ensured the successful execution of the Home Team Show and Festival on 6 May last year, an inaugural event to showcase Home Team capabilities and to celebrate 50 years of National Service in the Home Team.

As the Director of Operations from 2009 to 2014, Lim led and ensured the successful execution of police operations to protect various high profile events which included the inaugural Singapore Olympics Youth Game in 2010. He was also deeply involved in the development and implementation of the nation-wide Community Oriented Policing System (COPS) and the Police Camera Project (PolCam).

In any case, prior to 1st Oct last year, Lim has zero experience dealing with food or food safety other than knowing how to eat food.

Lim: SPF keeps me motivated and wanting to do more

Lim graduated in 1995 from the NUS with a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours) in Mathematics. He further obtained a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management (MSPPM) conferred by the Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College in 2016.

In an interview for a Police scholarship brochure, he said when he was 18, he decided to take up a Singapore Police Force (SPF) scholarship.

“I believed that the scholarship would not only see me through my university studies, but more importantly, it would offer me an exciting career in the SPF. I felt that given the dynamic job nature, SPF would be a perfect place for me to experience new challenges regularly and hone my leadership skills,” he said.

“I was not disappointed. The SPF offers an extraordinary career with never-ending opportunities for officers to take on various leadership positions both at the policy and operational levels.”

He described the many “exciting” examples of working in SPF:

  • Coming into close contact with people from the various echelons of society while solving crimes as an Investigation Officer
  • Drawing up contingency plans to manage crisis situations as an Assistant Director
  • Leading police officers to keep neighborhoods safe as Commander of a Police Division
  • Providing leadership to operational units as Director of Operations
  • Overseeing policy and staff matters in the SPF as Deputy Commissioner of Police

He said that through his various roles in the SPF, he has been able to see how new policies and command decisions have made a positive impact on Singaporeans and police officers alike.

“Every time that happens, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. The varied experiences offered by the SPF keep me motivated and wanting to do more. This still holds true after more than 18 years in the Force,” he said.

Nevertheless, despite SPF keeping Lim motivated and making him wanting “more”, he decided to quit SPF last Oct. He now wants to pursue a “food safety” career. Perhaps his affinity for food makes him change his mind?

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