Close Up

The Singapore Police Force: Transforming through the generations

The ‘A’ Division NS Commander of the Singapore Police Force, DAC (NS) Patrick Fung, has witnessed a lifetime’s worth of changes during his 40 years in service.



For a sense of how the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has evolved, look no further than senior officers like DAC (NS) Patrick Fung, 56, who enlisted in the mid-1980s. This transformation is even evident in the way National Service officers are selected to join the SPF. “It was a different path to the Force back then,” he recalls. “We all did our Basic Military Training on Pulau Tekong and a handful of us were selected for training at the Police Academy from there, unlike today, when most start with police training.”

DAC (NS) Fung was first posted to Police HQ, within its Strategic Planning Department. He only began serving in a land division – in his case, the ‘A’ Division – during his subsequent in-camp training cycles, whenever he returned on holiday from law school in the United Kingdom.

Patrolling the streets of Singapore in the early 1990s was an “eye-opening” experience. “I got to see a very different side of Singapore,” he reminisces. “On the surface, everything is very nice and polished. But when you start walking the streets, you’re exposed to another side of life: Suicide, domestic disputes.” Like many of his counterparts, DAC (NS) Fung acknowledges that he himself had lived quite a sheltered life. “But being in the Force was a privilege as I got to see and understand these social issues first-hand and not take our own luck for granted.”

He remembers the first suicide he was dispatched to assist with. “I think it was in Toa Payoh. Back then, we didn’t have those blue tents to cover the bodies. We had to use newspapers, or whatever we could find to clean up the area.”

How would today’s officers fare in that world? “It was a different time,” he stresses. “There was no channel for us to talk about how we felt or to prepare us for what we were going to do. Of course, that’s not the case anymore. Now, the wellbeing of our officers is something we are very concerned about — and with good reason, I think.”


As the NS Commander of the Singapore Police Force’s ‘A’ Division, DAC (NS) Fung is tasked to look after the welfare and wellbeing of his NSMen. Structural changes have made this easier, as there are policies to support SPF officers, both NS and regular. “These extend to mental wellbeing and care, which is very encouraging,” he explains.

He sheds light on progressive changes within the organization as well. “Most admirably, we’ve moved away from being a ‘boys’ club’ — women now have a place in every part of the SPF, which was very different from the past, when they were restricted to operating our phone lines or manning our stations. As a father of three daughters, I can confidently encourage any of them to take up a career in the SPF today.”

DAC (NS) Fung also oversees the deployment of NSmen to support key events in the ‘A’ Division, which covers central Singapore. Given this area, this means that he and his team are responsible for supporting the security operations for major events like the F1 Grand Prix, New Year’s countdown parties and the Shangri La Dialogue. But the event that stands out the most to him is the annual National Day Parade, which comes under the ‘A’ Division’s purview, whether it is held at the Padang or the Marina Bay Floating Platform. “I think the only time we didn’t support it was during the first year of COVID-19, when it was held at the STAR Arts Performing Theatre.”

NDP holds a special significance to the servicemen of ‘A’ Division shares DAC (NS) Fung. “And because we do so many events a year, our people are quite up to date on what needs to be done. Doing it once gives our men a good idea of what is expected of them. Through regular deployments like these, our NSmen can build closer working relationships with their regular counterparts and learn more about current policing procedures.”

It is usually at events like these that many of his men interact with members of the public as well. Just as the SPF has evolved to meet with the times, it has also had to rethink the way it interacts with the public. “In the old days, you could easily get compliance from the public. But as our population has become more educated and discerning, we have had to change our tack,” he explains. “There may be questions about our procedures and instructions, so our officers need to be trained to answer those sensitively and yet, firmly.” In this area, NS officers have an advantage over their regular counterparts. “They spend most of the year as civilians, so they definitely have a good grasp of public sentiment.”

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In The Force

How staying cool helped these PNSmen save a life

This team of PNSmen used their first aid training and teamwork to make a crucial difference during their in-camp training.


On 20 November 2022, four Divisional Special Task Force (DSTF) Police National Servicemen (PNSmen) officers from Jurong Police Division, INSP (NS) Maung Kyaw Yan Shinn, SGT (2) (NS) Cao Liang, SGT (1) (NS) Kor Zhe Ming, and SGT (1) (NS) Faiz Hakim Sim Jun Wei, were patrolling along Block 501-504, Jurong West Street 51.

A member of the public informed them that someone had fainted at a nearby market and required immediate medical assistance. The DSTF officers rushed to the scene and noticed a large crowd surrounding an unconscious person whose spouse was crying beside him.


INSP (NS) Maung and his team calmly took charge of the situation while awaiting the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel to arrive. Relying on the first aid training received during his full-time National Service, SGT (1) (NS) Faiz performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while INSP (NS) Maung ensured that his airway was clear and removed metal items from the patient’s body.

SGT (2) (NS) Cao Liang retrieved an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) from a nearby community club, while SGT (1) (NS) Zhe Ming summoned for an ambulance and updated his Ops Room and Jurong West NPC of the situation.

An SCDF ambulance arrived soon after and the officers were informed that the patient was resuscitated en route to the hospital. They were relieved and glad that their initial assistance during the critical period had helped the patient survive.

SGT (2) (NS) Cao Liang believed that teamwork was a crucial factor in the team’s ability to help save a life.  

“Clear communication, trust, and mutual respect among team members were key to a successful outcome. Each team member was aware of his role and responsibilities and was able to communicate effectively with one another. The team’s cohesion and cooperation made a significant impact on the outcome of the situation and helped save lives,” he said.

SGT (1) (NS) Faiz felt the incident highlighted the importance of first aid knowledge.

“It has also made us realise that more people should know how to administer first aid. From now on, we would highly encourage everyone to take up first aid course as it is a very important life skill,” he said.


The DSTF officers credited their ability to respond quickly to the training during their Police Officer Basic Course as well as vocational training at Jurong Police Division.

“Life is unpredictable. Anything can happen to our loved ones at anytime. I think with general medical knowledge and training, you might be able to save a person’s life one day. I will expand my knowledge in the general medical field so that I would be able to save another life if the same scenario takes place again,” said INSP (NS) Maung Kyaw Yan Shinn.

“In this new year, we would definitely encourage our friends and families to take up a First-Aid Course as this is a life skill that would come in handy in a medical emergency. We would also try out the myResponder app, serving and providing assistance to the communities even when not donning on our blue uniform,” added SGT (1) (NS) Kor Zhe Ming.

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Club Buzz Spotlight

How volunteering with HomeTeamNS sparked a friendship across the forces

Runs, encounters with ministers and ‘makan’ sessions are among the experiences shared by DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli and MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh.

DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli and MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh play distinctly different roles in safeguarding the public interest. The former is the commander of Clementi Police Division while the latter, is the deputy commander for 21A Public Shelter Rescue Unit of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Despite serving different roles, DAC (NS) Azfar and MAJ (NS) Shahrudin have developed not just a friendship but a common goal as well – to provide fellow HomeTeamNS members with the best recreational experiences possible. As members of the recently-opened Bedok Reservoir clubhouse’s Executive Committee, the two HomeTeamNS volunteers contribute to decisions involving clubhouse operations. The committee, for example, oversees tender evaluations for external parties that provide services like internet, swimming pool maintenance and renovations.

The pair first met back in 2017, when they were on the executive committee of the Bukit Batok clubhouse. Recalling first impressions, MAJ (NS) Shahrudin says that DAC (NS) Azfar, who works as a senior scientist at A*STAR, exuded an air of self-confidence.

“I was a newcomer to the HomeTeamNS volunteer team, and DAC (NS) Azfar immediately made me feel welcome. He also struck me as a highly intelligent but humble individual,” says MAJ (NS) Shahrudin, who is the subject Head of PE/CCA at Ngee Ann Primary School.

DAC (NS) Azfar, on the other hand, found his new counterpart to be “genuinely amiable, friendly and easy going”. Soon, they were shooting the breeze about clubhouse matters and personal interests. “We’re just very likeminded people and love chatting about anything under the sun,” says MAJ (NS) Shahrudin.

All for the common good

MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh
MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh

Even though the two men may not agree on every subject, they both share a strong affinity for the HomeTeamNS family. DAC (NS) Azfar’s decision to volunteer stems from a desire to make fellow NSmen feel appreciated. “As a long-serving NSman, I fully understand the sacrifices that our NSmen make for the security of the nation. Hence, I feel it is important that HomeTeamNS sufficiently represents the interests of our NSmen and to show our appreciation for them,” says DAC (NS) Azfar, who has served as a NS leadership appointment holder at the Singapore Police Force (SPF) for more than a decade.

While the circumstances surrounding MAJ (NS) Shahrudin’s volunteer journey are different – he jokes that he was “arrowed” (cajoled) to volunteer – he has come to cherish his role.

“I see the men under my command as my band of brothers. Being their voice in HomeTeamNS means a lot to me. It also aligns with my purpose of contributing to the Force and country,” says MAJ (NS) Shahrudin, who also volunteers at the Punggol 21 Community Centre’s Malay Activities Executive Committee (MAEC), The Terrace Residents’ Network, and his mosque.

Dignitaries and healthy distractions

DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli at the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir roadshow.
DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli (fourth from left) at the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir roadshow.

The two friends have fond memories of their volunteer work at HomeTeamNS. For DAC (NS) Azfar, this includes an opportunity to host Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Law, and Ms Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs, during the official opening ceremony of the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse in January.

“It was an honour to show them around the new clubhouse and highlight the work of various HomeTeamNS volunteers who helped with the clubhouse development process,” he says. MAJ (NS) Shahrudin has also rubbed shoulders with a high-profile guest. He helped with the filming of a promotional video for the HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok clubhouse that featured Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development, Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who is also President of HomeTeamNS.

The cherry on top? MAJ (NS) Shahrudin’s son was also part of the cast.

MAJ (NS) Shahrudin and his son, Isa, competing in a friendly round of Mario Kart with Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim at PlayPen.

“My son Isa was so excited about getting to be in the film that he made it a point to memorise the script and rehearse it with his mum. The entire experience was such a positive one for him and I’m glad he was given the opportunity to be involved,” recounts MAJ (NS) Shahrudin.

“He even went to ask Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim what his PSLE score was after I told him that the minister is a very learned man!”

Both NSmen are regular participants of the annual HomeTeamNS REAL Run — not least for the camaraderie the event fosters. “Various NSmen from my SPF unit volunteer as marshallers for the run every year. I have always found it heartening to see them develop enduring friendships during this annual affair. I thoroughly enjoy mingling with them and listening to them share their backgrounds and cultures with me,” says DAC (NS) Azfar.

 MAJ (NS) Shahrudin echoed the sentiment. “This event is when I get to meet my fellow NSmen from across the Home Team. We usually chit-chat and laugh heartily during the run, crossing the finish line before we know it. I think this also sums up my volunteering journey,” he says. “To be honest, I’m not really in this for a workout. I’m more interested in the makan session I always have with DAC (NS) Azfar at Kampung Chai Chee Restaurant in Punggol after the rehearsal and actual runs!”

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