Insights on MHA

By Kelvin Sng and Adriale Pang

Experience+ is a series of online learning journeys and industry visits that give students the chance to virtually visit workplaces, speak directly with working professionals, and learn about organisations that they aspire to join.

On 26 February 2022, Advisory hosted Experience+: MHA, where participants had the opportunity to network with MHA civilian officers and learn more about civilian generalist and specialist careers in MHA. We were privileged to have heard from:

  • Generalist Track: Ng Siew Hua, Deputy Director, Policy Development Division, Ministry HQ
  • Commercial Affairs Track: Jase Khoo, Head, Specialist Development, Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore Police Force
  • Intelligence Track: Linda Teo, Assistant Director, Analytics Research & Technology Development Division, Police Intelligence Division, Singapore Police Force
  • Internal Security Track: ‘Jacob’, Research Analyst, Internal Security Department
  • Science & Technology Track: Rachel Tan, Data Scientist, HTX (Home Team Science & Technology Agency)

Our selected participants included students from various education levels and institutions with a common curiosity in a career in MHA.

Below are some key points shared during the session:

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), commonly known as the Home Team, consists of the MHA Headquarters, 7 Home Team departments, and 3 statutory boards. MHA’s mission is to safeguard the safety and security of Singapore, in close partnership with the community. While each Home Team Agency has different roles and responsibilities, they all work together as One Home Team to keep our home safe and secure.

An officer under the Generalist career track, also known as a Home Affairs Senior Executive (HASE), will have the opportunity to rotate across different work domains, like Policy Planning, Strategic Planning, and Communications, amongst others. There are also posting opportunities to the Home Team Departments and secondment to the wider public sector. These postings allow Generalists to gain exposure and develop cross-cutting knowledge and skills across a variety of work areas in MHA.  

Ms Ng Siew Hua, currently a Deputy Director in the Policy Development Division at MHA Headquarters, reviews and formulates security-related policies, strategies and legislation that impact social cohesion and prevent foreign interference. During her stint at MHA’s Community Partnership and Communication Group, she handled media-related matters for the Little India riot in 2013 and the Trump-Kim summit in 2018. She was also offered a secondment opportunity to the Ministry of Communications and Information in 2015 to work on whole-of-government communications, where she deepened her skills in communications. In 2019, she was awarded an in-service MHA scholarship to pursue her Master’s in Political Communications at Goldsmith College, London, United Kingdom.

A Commercial Affairs Officer investigates commercial crimes, analyses financial intelligence, and formulates policies to safeguard Singapore’s integrity as a world-class financial and commercial centre.

Ms Jase Khoo, who is Head of Specialist Development at the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), has investigated complex fraud cases, money laundering and terrorism financing offences. She has also conducted network analysis to look into criminal networks and commercial crime trends such as the business email compromise fraud. Apart from investigation and analysis work, Ms Khoo provides policy inputs and make recommendations in the setting of international standards for combating white-collar crimes. To deepen her specialisation and broaden her perspectives, Jase has also received varied developmental opportunities such as job postings in different domains areas within CAD, and attended international conferences where she could share best practices with counterparts from foreign law enforcement agencies.

As a civilian specialist, an Intelligence Officer works on analysing island-wide trends and information to provide insights to potential threats that will likely impact national security. Seemingly unrelated data can be pieced together to form a useful picture for law enforcement and policy formulation, and to support operations and investigations for the Home Team Departments.

Ms Linda Teo, an Assistant Director with the Analytics Research & Technology Development Division at the Police Intelligence Department, leads a team to collect, analyse, and validate data on scams and other crimes. From there, she builds up information on the evolving landscape and comes up with actionable policy recommendations to stem the problem. Linda also investigates unlicensed money lenders. By building up intelligence in these critical areas, Linda and her team help to support the efforts of the Singapore Police Force in fighting crime. She has had many developmental opportunities to attend overseas conferences and training to learn best practices from foreign counterparts, all of which have helped to broaden her perspectives.

An Internal Security Department (ISD) officer detects and attempts to neutralise domestic and regional threats such as terrorism and foreign interference, to keep Singapore safe and sovereign. ISD officers process and make sense of the large amounts of intelligence from various sources, to develop insights about potential threats.

‘Jacob’, a Research Analyst with ISD, analyses and assesses threats in areas such as terrorism, communalism, foreign interference, and espionage. In his role, he pieces together disparate information to get a clearer picture of the impending security threats that Singapore faces and develops solutions to counter these issues. ‘Jacob’ enjoys his career with ISD as it is a highly cohesive organisation with like-minded colleagues who share the same purpose of keeping Singapore safe and secure. 

Being part of the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), a S&T specialist develops transformative, operationally ready, and innovative solutions to augment the Home Team operations.

Ms Rachel Tan, a Data Scientist with the Data Science & AI Centre of Expertise, works on the Natural Language Processing and research on various text analytics techniques, to build and train machine learning and deep learning models. These technological developments enhance the decision-making process for Home Team operations, which supports Home Team officers to make quick and informed decisions to respond to threats.

It is important to stay curious and be open towards learning, as Home Team officers will be exposed to myriad job areas throughout their career in MHA and must be updated with the external factors that impact the security landscape. For instance, a Generalist will be regularly exposed to new and challenging areas of work through regular postings. In HTX, officers have to constantly upskill themselves with the latest technological advancements so that they can remain agile.

Resilience is also important. Given the nature of security work, officers will need to balance new portfolios, multiple issues with quick developments and timeline pressures, and manage varying views from stakeholders. Lastly, possessing a positive attitude is what will allow officers to thrive as they seek to constantly learn, take on challenges and gain valuable experiences on the job.

It is important to stay curious and have a learning mindset, as factors that impact Singapore’s security landscape are fast-moving and ever-changing. For instance, in the case of online scams, perpetrators are quick to adopt the latest technologies, evolve their tactics and to find new ways to prey on Singaporeans. Regardless of which career track we take up, we need to continuously upskill ourselves so that we can fulfil our mission of ensuring the safety and security of Singaporeans and residents. 

A career with MHA is purposeful as officers contribute directly to the safety and security of Singapore.

The cohesive work culture and camaraderie in the Home Team makes officers feel supported and valued. Interactions with colleagues from across the 11 Home Team Agencies also allow officers to cross-share experiences and learn from each other to broaden perspectives.

One never stops learning at MHA. The varied developmental opportunities available allow officers to grow personally and professionally. There is a strong learning culture, and every officer is fully supported to take time to learn new skills and pick up new knowledge throughout their career with MHA.

Find out more about the MHA Scholarships if you are keen to be part of this fulfilling journey to safeguard the security of our Home and are looking for a scholarship for your undergraduate studies!