SINGAPORE: Singaporeans will soon be able to apply for new passports or identity cards via a new Web portal called MyICA, announced the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday (May 8).
In its addendum to President Halimah Yacob's address in Parliament on Monday, the ministry said the portal will allow citizens access to a “full range” of e-services with a single login as part of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's (ICA) efforts to harness digital technologies.
Other e-services to be offered on the portal include applications for APEC Business Travel cards as well as certified true copies of birth and death certificates and change of address.
A beta version of the portal was launched in April alongside the existing e-services platform. ICA said that the remaining 10 or so e-services will be progressively made available on the portal by the second half of this year.
In addition, a new one-stop portal, called Police Hub, will allow the public to lodge reports, provide feedback and check on transactions.
This comes as the Home Team makes a strong push in digital transformation and robotics to enhance its operational capabilities and productivity, in line with President Halimah's address on Monday outlining the Government’s commitment to secure Singapore’s place in a changing world.
The digital transformation includes equipping the police with specialised smartphones, digitising the police’s investigation process, and integrating robotics into Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) operations.
Among the initiatives, the ICA will employ more biometric solutions to tighten border security, while facilitating more efficient immigration clearance through the use of automated clearance systems.
The Central Narcotics Bureau will also trial the use of automated urine testing, while the Singapore Prison Service will use video analytics to enhance inmate supervision.
“We will continue to invest heavily in our people," said Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in his ministry's addendum.
"Home Team officers will have more training opportunities to keep abreast of digital transformation and the changing operational environment.
“Officers will be cross-trained to reap synergies and optimise resources. We will build up the capacity and capabilities of our Emergency Medical Services to deliver better emergency response outcomes while meeting the growing demand for such services.”
Mr Shanmugam said that MHA will continue to work with international partners such as the Interpol, the Association of South-east Asian Nations and the United Nations to deal with transnational crimes, drug trafficking and terrorism.
He also said that the security environment remains “complex” and that Singapore continues to be at a high-level alert to terrorism threats.
However, Singapore has made “good progress” in raising public awareness about the threat of terrorism since the launch of SGSecure, a national movement to familiarise Singaporeans with such threats.
He added that MHA will continue to focus on enhancing community preparedness to respond to such threats.
ENHANCING GOVERNMENT’S ABILITY TO IDENTIFY EMERGENT RISKS TO NATIONAL SECURITY
To that end, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS) is working with agencies and research institutes to understand trends and research related to violent extremism, and share these insights with different partners.
“These efforts have been useful, for example in equipping front-line officers in non-security domains with the knowledge and skills to safeguard more vulnerable groups like youth, against extremist messaging,” DPM Teo said in the Prime Minister’s Office addendum.
NSCS is also working to enhance the Government’s ability to identify emergent risks to national security, DPM Teo stated.
“These could range from new disruptive technologies to unintended consequences of existing developments,” he said.
“The work will draw from a wide range of experts in relevant fields, including academia. The identification of risks will guide the Government’s prioritisation of response measures, including resource allocation.”
In addition, NSCS is working with relevant stakeholders in different domains to identify and mitigate cross-cutting risks that are not easily identified but can affect national security.
“For instance, our critical infrastructure depends on different networks of utilities, information, and people,” DPM Teo explained. “Vulnerabilities in any one of these networks could have a far-reaching impact across sectors in the economy.”
These vulnerabilities, DPM Teo said, applies to many domains, including energy, water, health, infocomm, banking and finance, and transport.
“The NSCS works with other government agencies to anticipate threats and develop responses in a timely manner, to ensure that the Government as a whole is well-coordinated to deal effectively with present and future risks,” he added.
ENHANCING INTEROPERABILITY BETWEEN AGENCIES IN RESPONDING TO TERROR THREATS
And to build interoperability between agencies when responding to a terrorist threat, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed in his ministry’s addendum that the scale and complexity of exercises such as Northstar and Highcrest will be "stepped up".
Last year’s edition of Ex Highcrest, a multi-agency maritime security exercise held in the waters off upper Changi Coast, involved about 300 personnel across 14 agencies.
Last year’s Ex Northstar, which aims to test a multi-agency response towards possible terrorist attacks, involved more than 650 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), SCDF and other agencies. It was held at Changi Airport and the Home Team Tactical Centre.
“The SAF will work closely with the Home Team to ensure an effective and coordinated response to any terrorist threat,” Dr Ng said in his ministry’s addendum, stressing that the regional threat is at an “all-time high”.
In addition, more SAF and Singapore Police Force servicemen will undergo joint security operations training at the SAF’s Island Defence Training Institute, Dr Ng said without elaborating further.
“We are also working with other countries under a ‘Resilience, Response, Recovery’ framework to strengthen our responses to prevent, deal with and recover from terrorist attacks in the region,” he added.