Chan Wei Hao
My company and my job
As a Team Leader at Woodlands checkpoint, I am deployed to various zones at the checkpoint and work with officers in my team to ensure its smooth operations. My primary responsibility is to investigate immigration-related offences and to detect cross-border smuggling activities.
I am also part of a first responder team to attend to security-related incidents at the checkpoint and work closely with other government agencies as part of a greater effort in safeguarding Singapore’s borders. As the first point of contact for travellers entering Singapore, my job allows me to interact with people from all walks of life. We aim to achieve a security-focused, service-conscious mindset.
How I got my job
I had to go through a panel interview, which is part of the selection process. During the interview, I was given different scenarios and assessed on my responses. It is important to stay calm and composed in order to respond with a well-thought-out answer, and be able to explain your responses.
The highs and lows
My most fulfilling achievement was when my team detected a traveller with potential terrorist links and barred him from entering Singapore. It was a long and tiring investigation, but ultimately satisfying, because this incident served to remind us of the importance of ICA officers’ duty day in and day out – securing Singapore’s borders. With the current need for heightened security, the work of an ICA officer is definitely challenging but fulfilling, and each successful case detection provides the boost needed to keep us going.
Training and support
All new officers undergo a 16-week basic training course at Home Team Academy (HTA), followed by four weeks of on-the-job training at the checkpoints. During basic training, there are numerous attachments to different commands. This helps to provide context and relevance to the theory lessons taught in Training Command. Training and development opportunities don’t stop after graduation as there are many courses you can sign up for to further hone your skills.
I work three cyclic shifts and it can be challenging at times. I try to rest whenever I can and pay attention to my diet and exercise regime. The positive aspect of operational shift work is that it allows me to pursue fulfilling activities after my shift is over.
Team culture also plays a part in maintaining motivation. I am blessed to be in the company of colleagues with great camaraderie who are willing to go out of the way to assist each other.
The ability to think calmly when pressed to make an immediate decision on the ground is essential. Critical thinking is also essential in investigative work, as witness statements can be contradictory. Analytical skills are needed as well to make sense of the facts of the case.