The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is responsible for the security of Singapore’s borders against the entry of undesirable persons and cargo through our land, air and sea checkpoints. Aside from border security, ICA also performs immigration and registration functions such as the issuing of travel documents and identity cards to Singapore citizens. ICA also issues various immigration passes and permits to foreigners. As a security agency, ICA also conducts operations against immigration offenders.
Operational since 1 April 2003, ICA is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs. ICA has brought together the former Singapore Immigration & Registration (SIR) and checkpoint related enforcement work performed by the former Customs & Excise Department (CED).
ICA’s mission is to ensure that the movement of people, goods and conveyances through our checkpoints is legitimate and lawful. At the same time, to administer and uphold their laws on immigration, citizenship and national registration fairly and effectively.
Lystraa Chan from jobsDB.com speak to INSP Chu Kwai Leong, SSgt Loh Yong Keong and Sgt Muhammad Bin Latiff from ICA to find out more about their interesting roles and individual job scopes.
As a Team Leader, Inspector Chu is responsible for leading a team of HAS-ICA Specialists in ensuring effective and efficient operations at the Checkpoint to safeguard the security of our nation. He handles difficult and complex cases related to both immigration and cargo clearance issues and makes appropriate decisions or takes follow-up actions with a view to delivering effective operational service without compromising checkpoint security
What are the specific threats that you have to tackle in your job scope?
As officers at the frontline of our country’s borders, we have to tackle any threats to our national security, especially with the rise of terrorism remaining unabated. We also have to detect and prevent the entry of undesirable travelers, goods and conveyances through our stringent checks.
What are the difficulties you have faced in tackling these threats?
The challenges we face are real and complex. Besides carrying out our role to ensure border security, we have to deal with uncooperative and difficult passengers who do not appreciate the necessity for checks to be conducted. As the security landscape is ever-changing, the need to ensure that our officers are well-trained and be continually updated on the latest threats and modus operandi employed by syndicates is paramount. This would contribute to our officers’ effectiveness and efficiency in carrying out their duties at the checkpoints and in so doing, protect our nation’s safety and security.
What are your main job responsibilities?
My main job responsibilities include overseeing the ground operations at designated zones of the checkpoint and ensure that there is enough manpower to handle all commuter traffic and cargo clearance without undue delay. I have to think on my feet, deal with cases referred from my junior staff and make decisions to the best of my abilities.
INSP Chu Kwai Leong and SSgt Loh Yong Keong performing vehicle check.
What personal qualities must one possess to be up to the task that you have?
Officers need to have good observation skills in order to be able to profile high-risk travellers who may pose security threats to our country. They must also be level-headed and quick-thinking so as to handle difficult or sensitive situations encountered at the checkpoints well and in a professional way.
What are your work hours and routine like?
At the checkpoint, I work cyclic shifts, including weekends and public holidays as checkpoint operations are 24/7.
What makes you feel good about what you do?
I enjoy my work as an ICA-SO as the duties at the checkpoints are never routine. Each day brings with it new challenges as there are unexpected happenings requiring us to keep our vigilance to ensure that our nation’s security is not compromised. We face people from all walks of life which broadens our perspectives through direct interaction with them whilst at work.
There are also a lot of learning opportunities in this career as there are many different job functions within the Department where we could be deployed to as we progress in our career. Even within the checkpoint itself, the scope of work is wide as officers are cross-deployed to learn and handle the whole spectrum of checkpoint operations which are interesting and challenging. To have a challenging & dynamic job which I look forward to everyday and at the same time knowing that while at it, I am doing my bit in safeguarding my nation’s security, I am truly glad to have made ICA-SO my career choice.
As an ICA Specialist, Staff Sergeant Loh is responsible for the clearance of people, goods and conveyances on arrival and departure at Tuas checkpoint. He is trained in both immigration and cargo clearance. As a Primary Screening Officer performing immigration clearance, he is responsible for ensuring that the passports/travel documents used are authentic and that the travellers are the rightful holders. During cargo clearance, he ensures that no illegal contrabands/undeclared items slip through the checkpoint.
Why did you want to become an ICA specialist?
Being an ICA specialist gives me a sense of satisfaction and pride in upholding our border’s security and making Singapore a safer home.
What type of person would be suited for a job like yours?
A person who is dedicated to the profession, strongly motivated and committed in discharging his duties in an efficient and effective manner would be best suited to be a ICA specialist. The person should also not be averse to delivering customer service in the sense that he has to come face-to-face with travellers from all over the world coming into our country on a daily basis.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
To remain vigilant in security aspects and committed in providing service excellence.
What gives you satisfaction in your job as ICA specialist?
The job of an ICA Specialist is never routine or dull. Each day brings with it new and different opportunities and challenges in dealing with different cases at the checkpoints, be it on people or cargo/ goods clearance. The satisfaction comes from learning and handling varied kinds of cases and situations on a regular basis and knowing that in doing so, I am growing in my personal development as well as doing my part in keeping Singapore safe and secure.
What are your working hours and routines like?
I work cyclic shifts. The working hours are: Morning – 0800hrs to 1500hrs,Afternoon – 1500hrs to 2200hrs,Night – 2200hrs to 0800hrs.
What do you hope to achieve in your time with ICA?
I hope to continue learning and progressing in my career with ICA as I am aware that there are career advancement opportunities. If I continue to perform well and prove my potential, my efforts and contributions would be recognized as ICA is a forward-looking and dynamic organization which looks after the interests of its officers.
As an ICA Specialist, Sergeant Muhammad is responsible for the clearance of people, goods and conveyances on arrival and departure at Woodlands checkpoint. He is trained in both immigration and cargo clearance. As a Primary Screening Officer performing immigration clearance, he is responsible for ensuring that the passports/travel documents used are authentic and that the travellers are the rightful holders. During cargo clearance, he ensures that no illegal contrabands/undeclared items slip through the checkpoint.
In your job as an ICA Specialist, what motivates you the most?
As a frontline ambassador for Singapore who gets to meet travellers from different parts of the world, the satisfaction from the job comes from the little things we do which may help to brighten up the travellers’ day. It makes my working environment even more enjoyable when you get compliments from the travellers.
However, the more significant aspect is really to be enthused with carrying out the mission of detecting and seizing contrabands through thorough checks on large consignments at the checkpoint. Every successful detection of contrabands or illegal entry of persons gives me a great sense of achievement, knowing that I have contributed to the security of our country.
What are your responsibilities as an ICA Specialist?As an ICA Specialist at the checkpoint, I have to ensure that the movement of people, goods and conveyances through the checkpoint is legitimate and lawful. I perform immigration clearance to ensure that the travel documents presented by the travellers are authentic and that the travellers are the rightful holders of the travel documents. I also conduct checks to ensure that there is no illegal or undeclared item slipping through the checkpoint.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in becoming an ICA Specialist?
Have an inquisitive mind that is security-focused. From asking a traveller about his intention of coming to Singapore to examining the travel documents presented to you, or through questioning a driver on the goods he is transporting to observing the structure of the conveyance itself, these are the details which you gather that will help you to assess whether the traveller/travel document is genuine or the driver/vehicle is hiding illegal persons or goods.
Are there any special issues that an ICA Specialist has to pay attention to?
An ICA Specialist has to be sensitive to the people around him. Whether it is the handling of a suspect, or attending to queries from the public, an ICA Specialist must perform his duties with due tact and composure regardless of the situation.
What kind of person would be suited to the job?
Anyone who wishes to meet people from all walks of life whilst at work and wants to be part of a passionate team interested in keeping our borders safe and secure is welcome to join ICA. The person should also possess qualities of an enquiring mind, initiative, versatility, have an eye for detail and is able to perform under pressure.
What are the career prospects for an ICA Specialist?
An ICA Specialist can be assigned to different positions in the organisation according to his competency and experience throughout his career. The diversity in job nature straddles across different checkpoints pertaining to land, sea, air, ports and air cargo. Within the respective checkpoint itself, there is a range of job duties, from operating specialised equipment such as radiographic scanners, to conducting search as part of specialised teams, investigation into cases and anti-smuggling work. The wide spectrum in job variety provides excellent opportunities for career exposure and learning platforms for an ICA-Specialist to develop his competency, skills and talent, thereby developing his professionalism and providing advancement to his career.
Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Join ICA
1. Meet Interesting People From All Over the World
You will get to meet people from all walks of life while you upkeep Singapore’s security through world class immigration and cargo clearance procedures. Use this exciting career to broaden your perspectives through direct interaction with visitors of various nationalities whilst at work.
2. Be At the Front Line of Border Security
Be a part of the team of passionate men and women who want to play an active role in keeping our borders safe and secure. Get yourself involved in real life situations as you face security challenges that confront our society and help protect our country, our community and our loved ones.
3. Develop Your Talent and Potential
Here in ICA, we value human talent and provide numerous learning platforms and opportunities to develop each individual’s talent. We will empower you to grow personally and professionally and will stay committed to develop your leadership potential. Allow us to maximise your potential.
Building a World Class ICA
Watch this heartwarming video on our officers’ sharing their thoughts about security and service and what it takes for ICA to achieve the world class status today. It attests to ICA’s commitment to be a world class security agency and service provider.Be inspired to answer the call to aim for higher ground.
Service Excellence Starts With Us
Let ICA Show You How Service Excellence Can Start With Us
For more information, visit ICA.
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