The minister also pointed to a growing demand for APOs due to heightened security threats and new infrastructure, such as Changi Airport Terminal 4…reports Asian Lite News
An Indian-origin minister in Singapore has said that the city state is considering hiring auxiliary police officers (APOs) from Asian nations like India, China, the Philippines and Myanmar.
Home and Law Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told Parliament on Wednesday that his Ministry hopes to expand the jurisdictions where officers can be recruited from for their Auxiliary Police Force, Channel News Asia reported.
In a written parliamentary response to MP Sylvia Lim, Shanmugam said the move is being considered as the number of APOs, currently being hired from Taiwan, dropping significantly since the practice began in 2017.
The minister also pointed to a growing demand for APOs due to heightened security threats and new infrastructure, such as Changi Airport Terminal 4.
“We need to allow the auxiliary police forces to recruit foreign APOs to meet the increasing demand for security services,” Shanmugam said.
“They (Auxiliary Police Force) 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.”
Singaporeans made up about 68 per cent of the total population of APOs, with the remaining 32 per cent being Malaysian and Taiwanese as of November last year.
The Minister further noted that it has been a “challenge to recruit and keep” the Taiwanese APOs with their numbers decreasing by more than 60 per cent since 2017, to about 70 today.
Citing reasons, he said this was due to the demanding nature of public-facing security work, improved job opportunities and prospects in Taiwan, a desire to settle down with a family, and homesickness.
APOs are trained in areas such as handling firearms and counter-terrorism, and they are deployed in a range of functions, including protecting key installations and non-governmental premises such as commercial banks.
In addition, they are also given police powers to search and arrest offenders when on duty, and can escort people in custody.
As for the risk of letting non-Singaporeans carry firearms, the minister told the parliament that the authorities address this through security screening, training and supervision.
“So far, misuse of firearms by APOs is extremely rare and is not more prevalent among non-Singaporeans,” Shanmugam said.