S’pore looking to hire auxiliary police from China, India, the Philippines, Myanmar as Taiwan recruits dwindle: Shanmugam

Auxiliary police officers on duty at the Shangri-La Dialogue.
Auxiliary police officers on duty at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

SINGAPORE — Singapore is looking to expand the jurisdictions from which it recruits auxiliary police officers (APOs), as the number from Taiwan has fallen in recent few years, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said.

In addition to Taiwan, Singapore is considering hiring these officers from India, China, the Philippines and Myanmar, he told Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 10).

“We need to allow the Auxiliary Police Forces to recruit foreign APOs, to meet the increasing demand for security services,” he said.

“(The Auxiliary Police Forces) face challenges in sustaining an adequate pool of APOs, given the shrinking local workforce, requirements such as physical fitness, and the job options Singaporeans have.”

He was responding to a parliamentary question from Ms Sylvia Lim, Workers’ Party chairman and Member of Parliament of Aljunied Group Representation Constituency.

Ms Lim had asked about:

  • Whether Singapore is still hiring APOs from Taiwan, having done so since 2017
  • The particular work challenges associated with hiring these officers
  • Which other jurisdictions are being considered for the recruitment 

Mr Shanmugam said that the Auxiliary Police Forces will continue to hire Taiwanese APOs even though their numbers have continued to fall despite the generally positive working experience with them. 

“It has been a challenge to recruit and keep them,” he added.

He noted that the numbers have “decreased significantly”, by more than 60 per cent from 2017 to 2023, to about 70 now.

As of November last year, Singaporean APOs made up about 68 per cent of the total population of these officers and the remaining 32 per cent are Malaysians and Taiwanese.

This drop-off in Taiwanese APOs is attributed to the demanding nature of public-facing security work and improved job opportunities and prospects in Taiwan. 

Mr Shanmugam said that Taiwanese APOs often have a strong desire to settle down and are homesick.

“As such, MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) has been considering expanding the jurisdictions from which Auxiliary Police Forces can be allowed to recruit APOs.”

These potentially include Asian jurisdictions such as China, India, the Philippines and Myanmar.

MHA has been discussing the possibilities with the Auxiliary Police Forces.

On the risk of letting non-Singaporeans carry firearms, Mr Shanmugam said: “The misuse of firearms by APOs is extremely rare and is not more prevalent among non-Singaporeans.”

MHA manages this risk through security screening, training, and supervising APOs, he added. 

“We are also careful and more restrictive where we deploy non-Singaporean APOs.

“It is a challenging environment because of our shrinking workforce.”

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