Singapore is contemplating the recruitment of auxiliary police officers (APOs) from various Asian nations, including India, China, the Philippines, and Myanmar, according to statements made by the Indian-origin Home and Law Affairs Minister, K. Shanmugam.
The Minister revealed the government's intention to diversify the recruitment pool for the Auxiliary Police Force during a parliamentary session on Wednesday.
The move comes in response to a decline in the number of APOs hired from Taiwan since the practice was initiated in 2017. Minister Shanmugam emphasized the growing demand for APOs, citing heightened security threats and the development of new infrastructure, such as Changi Airport Terminal 4.
In a written response to MP Sylvia Lim, Shanmugam acknowledged the challenges faced by the Auxiliary Police Force in maintaining a sufficient pool of APOs. These challenges include a shrinking local workforce, physical fitness requirements, and the numerous job opportunities available to Singaporeans.
As of November last year, Singaporean APOs constituted approximately 68% of the total APO population, with Malaysians and Taiwanese making up the remaining 32%. The Minister highlighted the difficulties in recruiting and retaining Taiwanese APOs, with their numbers decreasing by over 60% since 2017.
Reasons for the decline in Taiwanese APOs included the demanding nature of public-facing security work, improved job prospects in Taiwan, a desire to settle down with a family, and homesickness.
APOs undergo training in various areas, including firearm handling and counter-terrorism. They are deployed for tasks such as protecting key installations, securing non-governmental premises like commercial banks, and exercising police powers for searches, arrests, and escorting individuals in custody.
Addressing concerns about non-Singaporeans carrying firearms, Minister Shanmugam assured the parliament that the authorities manage this risk through stringent security screening, training, and supervision. He emphasized that instances of firearm misuse by APOs, especially non-Singaporeans, are extremely rare.