Race Towards Excellence



The turn of the century brought changes to the political, economic and social infrastructures globally. Developed and developing countries took to understand clearly that stabilization in their economy largely rest upon a safe and secured environment that it provides to the investors. Singapore has read this well and a Total Defence Force was the order of the day.


Total Defence Force encompassed two key features, Safety and Security. Security also meant private security in partnership.

The history of untrained and unscreened private security personnel guarding properties were demolished. This is the juncture where Security Association (Singapore), SAS since 1992, mooted the idea of proper training for security personnel. In fact, when the Association was formed in 1976 by 11 companies, namely :

  • Anthony’s Special Investigation Services
  • Commercial & Private Enquiry Services
  • Dynamic Security & Enquiry Services
  • Land & Sea Security Services (Pte) Ltd
  • Marcom Security Services
  • Pang’s Security Guards Services
  • Scorpius Security & Investigation Services
  • Securimax Security Services
  • Sheares Investigation & Security Services
  • Sigma Security Services Pte Ltd
  • Wormald Security (S.E.Asia) Pte Ltd

professionalizing the private security industry was the immediate advancement sought after.

Education and training are the two key factors to raising the standards in management of the business and performance of the security officers. Sometime in 1992, as a result of a successful negotiation with Edith Cowan University in Australia, a security management course commenced with an appropriate and applicable syllabi and contents. Several private security practitioners of the security agencies aspired and attained their certificates.

SAS also started its Basic Security Course for Security Officers before the turn of the century. This was sometime in 1993. These laid the platform to the development of security training by SPRING Singapore. SAS with SPRING Singapore, the Police and the OTi Security Consultants worked to the formation of Industry Capabilities Upgrading Plan, ICAP and identified National Skills Recognition System, NSRS. The NSRS was the take off of security training for the next years to come.

So, SAS played the key role to establish a national framework for work performance, as a result of identifying competencies which are actual required skills for private security officers.

SAS moved this a milestone and developed its connection with the university to recognize the management course for practitioners and individuals for upgrading skills on security management. The emphasis on such courses led individuals and agencies to be capable in managing their agencies and remain professional in practice. Thus, certifiying these individuals and agencies led to the commencement of a Certification Program, as an annual educational and professional event of SAS. Types of certification, its application and renewal were underlined by the criteria set from the Certification Board of SAS. Therefore, since 1994 the following certificates were issued with recognition acknowledged by Security Industry Regulatory Department, SIRD.

SAS is the sole-proprietor of the below mentioned acronyms and certification titles, registered with the Intellectual Property Rights of Singapore under Section 15 (5) of the Trade Marks Act.


So be the situation that SAS keeps constant vision to professionalize the Security Guard Agencies (SGA) and Security Officers. Education and training continued as the order of the day in fighting crime in the society. While SGAs comply regulations and provide their service with commitment, Security Officers had to perform diligently and responsibly. Again SAS engaged partnership with authorities to enhance education and training. The partnership is essential as authorities needed feedback from the Association and the latter in turn help the SGAs, to refrain from a compromise in service and have good practices in managing the business and the employees.

Partnership develops to a Tripartism involving the following organizations :

Security Industry Regulatory Department (SIRD)

SIRD of the Singapore Police Force was set up on 1st September 2004. The formation of the department solely to regulate the private security industry was essential to ensure the safety and security of Singapore. Regulating with standards to improve competencies of both armed and unarmed Security Officers and Private Investigators is essentials.

SIRD, engaged SAS and some of its experienced members to gain feedback on training, testing, procedures and standards in private security practice for the betterment of the industry. Therefore, the common task was to develop a comprehensive set of policies and directives that can be put up to make changes to the PISA Act that was enacted in 1973.

The Security Industry Forum (SIF) was formed and SAS is represented by the President and Senior Vice President. The key members of SIF are MOM, WDA, USE, SAS and ACSA. These meetings convened by SIRD, is very useful and instrumental to several changes seen in the profile of a private security officer.


One key improvement that reflects the standard of the Security Agencies today, is the mandatory Grading System which is an open assessment of SGAs.

SAS since its formation in 1976, then known as Association of Licensed Security and Investigation Agencies (ALSIA), as mentioned earlier understood that Private Security Officers should move from being called as “Jagas” to Security Officers some day. This was possible only by professionalizing the job. The Security Guard often referred to even in the act has to be renamed, we thought. A vocational license for Security Officers was mooted by SAS since early 1990s when training and certification was already carried out. This was often spoken to the licensing officers before the formation of SIRD. With the formation of the latter, SIF meetings developed this to the issuance of an identification card for all Security Officers, as it is what it was referred in the new act called PSI Act (amended).


First published in the government gazette on 27th April 2009, Private Security Industry Act (Chapter 250A). Private Security Industry (Private Investigation and Security Agencies) Regulations 2009, saw amendments after 36 years. Amendments to the Act and Regulations, stressed on the compliances to be met, so that on this regulatory framework, standards of the Security Agencies is enhanced.

Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

MOM has shown key interest in engaging SAS members for dialogue session.

mom1 mom2

These sessions has proven to be highly productive and constructive views were discussed understanding compliances, salaries of employees, working hours, welfare and clientele difficulties. Development of these sessions is the furtherance of the ideas and issues in other meetings, namely SIF where so called improvement were born to benefit employers and employees. Working with tripartite partners led to upgrading skills and improve the productivity in the industry.

The Year 2006 saw the introduction Security Workforce Skills Qualification System. Supervisory and PMETs were made available. Also in the same year during April, the Security Supervisor Conversion Program and the Professional Conversion Program for security executives were offered. MOM was also instrumental in the vocational licence issuance in August 2009.

MOM has successfully issued guidebooks for the benefit of security employees, comprising information on employment contracts, salary calculations, leaves, medical benefits and more. ‘Advantage’ – schemes for employers were made available. Employing mature workers under Job Re-design was adopted. Two SAS members, Prosec and Evtec embarked on this by adopting management system, where mature workers could perform and control certain functions improving productivity. These technologies helped to redesign the job and facilitated employment and retaining of their workers.

In May 2009, MOM in collaboration with WDA launched the SPUR program. Several SAS members hired more local skills workers. A very customized SPUR-Job was launched. Grants were made available for recruitment, training and other initiatives. Skills, working environment and salaries were the primary concern. Shortening working hours enable a flow of different availability of manpower.

A lightened 36 hours per week, was one avenue that enable a job redesigned. This saw a slight influx of manpower to the industry.

In October 2008 Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Manpower and Health),


admired that the Security Industry has developed its way in recent years. The strength of the industry in terms of manpower has grown. He observed that to meet new challenges, SAS has engaged well in Tripartite to improve professionalism and capability in the industry. He sees the career progression in the Private Security Industry. He commended SAS for, “Your active involvement in training Security Officers since 1995, and your role in developing the Security WSQ……”

Another concentrated effort during Tripartite meeting was the necessity to apply for OT exemption, which SAS disseminated to all members. The continuity to improve working conditions of employees, meeting contractual binding and enhancing skills is part of the agenda that SAS sets in its continued education and training that is planned for its members to focus.

Workforce Development Authority (WDA)

Another tripartite partner is WDA. SAS actively participated and obtained respective syllabus and course materials approved by WDA to conduct courses for security officers and supervisors by approved training centers and especially who are members. These courses were made mandatory by 1st June 2005 and a small number failed the assessments and could not continue in their employment as security officer. Such training is essential as SAS has embarked on emphasizing the relevance of training and education since its inception. Chaired by WDA, SAS participates in the Security Industry Training Council, however known as ISTC meeting. This council till today looks into different levels of training program. About 50 competency standards were developed for the industry. An intention is the identification of a career path to attract more Singaporeans to the industry.


Union of Security Employees (USE)

USE has worked closely with SAS in engaging its members to unionize their employees. We have participated in many USE events and lent support. The attendance of members who have unionized is encouraging.

The welfare of Security employees is often emphasized by the union. Though the effort to standardize the colour of the security uniform did not take off yet, the union has contributed greatly to the issuance of the security identity card. SAS has often highlighted the benefits of union membership in its souvenir magazine.

This year SAS is awarded the partnership CBF model (Institutional) on 29th March 2010 by NTUC.


USE has expressed its interest and concern in wanting to understand security issues. USE has organized several events and SAS has supported it well. This partnership in sharing and shaping the industry will continue in the Tripartite effort.

Such local partnership is called a Tripartite and the immense concern shown to private security practice let to developments, professionalizing the private security industry. Gearing each SGA and security officer to complement and supplement the country’s Total Defence, which I began mentioning in my first paragraph, will be the “Primo – Motto” in the fight against terrorism and crime.

SAS has many international connections too. Understanding the global issues and the way private security complement and supplement enforcement agencies in other countries, is a lesson SGAs in Singapore must learn. Emergency preparedness is a crucial element in security coverage as it is during emergencies, we see the lessons learned, in practice. Many failed to view this seriously as during peace time it appears to be unimportant.

    • So! Do we wait for a bomb to explode?
    • Do we prevent, control or be prepared?
    • How much protection can total defense forces provide?
    • Is it not our duty too, to guard our country and its people?
    • Whom do we learn our lessons from?

Educating members on the suffering as a result of crime and terrorism experienced by many countries, is a platform upon which we should learn.

IISSM – International Institute of Safety and Security Management is one large organization from India which has its roots with SAS. Former President Jeyaraj and senior member of SAS, Retired (Major) P Kalastree, are founder members of this organization. They held senior posts and connected a learning tube between SAS and IISSM. For past 19 years, seminars were enriching, where learned presenters shared their knowledge and views on safety, security and investigation.


In 2009, SAS continued its participation and expressed eagerness to share security concerns from Singapore and the ASEAN region. Our Management Committee member, Morrine Henson presented a paper on “The Role of Private Sector in Counter Terrorism”. A well received presentation where participants wanted to know the emergency preparedness exercises that Singapore conducts. The most interesting presentation in history and a pride for SAS to remember in reverence, is the presentation made by SIRD’s, DSP Ram Shanker on “The Role of the Private Security : The Singapore Experience”. He touched on how focused the Police is, in engaging the private security industry to fight crime and terrorism in Singapore.

This evidently concludes that SAS is constantly engaging to upgrade the private security industry in Singapore. To engage our ASEAN private security associations is underway. This is not new but rekindled by way of creating a Regional Representative amongst the management committee to enhance contacts.

Many events benefiting members and their employees is, in the pipeline to regardfully pave the way for enhancement in the next decades to come.