SINGAPORE: At least two private security firms in Singapore are looking to Taiwan to fill auxiliary police officer (APO) positions in Singapore.
Certis CISCO will hold a week-long recruitment drive in Taiwan next month. AETOS told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday (Dec 28) that it began its recruitment effort in November. Each firm said it was looking to hire about 120 officers there.
Both firms traditionally hire Singaporeans and Malaysians, but cite the shortage of local manpower in their decision to look further afield.
Certis CISCO has more than 3,500 APOs, more than half of which are locals. AETOS has around 2,600 APOs, of which more than 60 per cent are Singaporeans. APOs are deployed to complement police resources, supporting the Singapore Police Force at major events and protecting sensitive installations.
Job advertisements posted on Taiwanese job portals have listed responsibilities of the officers, which include providing armed security and patrolling.
The salary offered by Certis CISCO is S$2,675 a month and air-conditioned accommodation is provided, with the officers only having to pay for utilities and meals. Other benefits listed in the advertisements include overtime for at least 12 hours of work a day, health insurance and annual bonuses.
In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, Certis CISCO said candidates should be university graduates aged between 20 and 40 and must have a good command of English. It also said those hired would be eligible for a S$2,000 joining bonus and an additional S$2,000 completion bonus at the end of the two-year contract.
A spokesperson did not explain why the firm is targeting Taiwanese in its recruitment exercise, but said the shortage of manpower is a "perennial situation" in Singapore and that it has been “working with the authorities to recruit from suitable alternate sources”.
An AETOS spokesperson added that many Singaporeans are put off by the nature of the job.
"Many Singaporeans are not keen to take on the role of an APO due to the nature of the job – routine, tough working conditions (having to endure vehicle fumes and harsh weather conditions) and performing shift duty," AETOS said in a statement to Channel NewsAsia.
The firm said that that it would still give "first priority" to eligible Singaporeans and Malaysians, adding that "Singaporeans have always been (its) preference".
AETOS added that the numbers it has recruited have not met the firm's manpower requirements. "(The) response by Singaporeans has not been forthcoming and getting qualified Malaysians has been challenging."
The firm also noted that the demand for security manpower has continued to rise in recent years, given the heightened security climate.
A police spokesman told Channel NewsAsia that the projected demand is over 600 APOs over the "next few years", and that Auxiliary Police Forces (APFs) - commercial companies like Certis CISCO and AETOS - have found it difficult to hire Singaporean APOs to meet the demand.
According to the police, APFs have only been able to expand the pool of Singaporean APOs by 250 officers since 2011. "APFs cannot get 600 APOs from Singapore, based on the last few years’ experience," said the spokesman.
He added that the majority of APOs in Singapore are Singaporeans. APOs at specific sensitive locations can only be Singaporeans, while foreign APOs are allowed to carry out other duties.
And while the APFs also employ Malaysians as APOs, the firms have had difficulty finding suitable qualified Malaysians as well, said the spokesman.
"To meet the demand for APOs, the APFs are exploring Taiwan as a possible source," he said. "They will have to meet the same qualifying standards as other APOs."
In April this year, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in parliament that Singapore deploys about 7,000 auxiliary police officers islandwide and has "fairly strict requirements" for APOs. He also stated that the Home Affairs Ministry ensures that majority of these officers are Singaporeans, and that only Singaporeans are deployed at land checkpoints.
Certis CISCO said the first batch of Taiwanese APOs will be ready to be deployed after April 2017. It added that it has no plans to hold overseas recruitment drives in other locations outside of Malaysia and Taiwan.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from the Singapore Police Force as well as AETOS.