Photo Credit to SPS Evelyn Loh
By Feng Zengkun
As someone who served as a prison officer, Ms Evelyn Loh, 32, believes in the power of second chances.
“Every offender is someone’s parent, sibling, spouse or child. When we transform offenders’ lives and help them to reintegrate back into their family and society, we build a better society and a safe Singapore,” she says of her experience as 2nd superintendent in the Singapore Prison Service’s (SPS) Tanah Merah Prison.
Her passion for her vocation began in her second year of junior college, when she visited the Kaki Bukit Centre (Prison School) as part of the Home Team Associates Programme and saw first-hand how some offenders were trying to turn over a new leaf.
Ms Loh recalls: “Some of them were almost as old as my dad, and they were pursuing their GCE ‘O’ Levels and ‘A’ Levels. They wanted a second chance in life.”
She says: “I also met prison officers who showed me what it means to be a captain of lives of the offenders who were under their charge. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to serve in the SPS.”
In her time as a prison officer, she remembers a female offender who reconciled with her father and vowed to complete her GCE ‘N’ Levels while in prison, so that she could take care of him after her release. She adds: “Years later, I bumped into her and her father and was heartened to see that they were both doing well.
“In this service, we always say that you’ll know you did a good job if you see ex-offenders in
public and they come up to say hi to you. Such precious moments help to fuel my passion and purpose in this career.”
After graduating from junior college, she studied for a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University College London on a Singapore Government Scholarship, before pursuing a master of science degree in decision sciences at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
She started working in the SPS in 2010, where she enjoyed several appointments and secondments that expanded her skillset and perspective.
As a housing unit officer in Changi Women’s Prison in 2011, she led a team of officers to manage the operations and rehabilitative programmes in one of the housing blocks for inmates.
During her time as a staff planning and development executive in the SPS Staff Development Division, she also analysed and developed strategies for the organisation’s workforce.
In 2015, she was seconded to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Planning and Organisation Division as senior manager of resource planning. She examined the various capabilities required for the Home Team Transformation 2025 plan to transform policing, emergency response, drug control, corrections and border security.
Two years later, another secondment to the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s ComCare and Social Support Division saw her take on the role of assistant director of financial security policy, where she helmed a team to develop and review policies to support low-income and vulnerable individuals and families.
In her position as 2nd superintendent, she oversaw the administration and management of Tanah Merah Prison 2 by ensuring the inmates’ safe and secure custody and facilitating their rehabilitation.
In each of these roles, Ms Loh was not without the guidance of mentors. She says: “I had nurturing bosses and a supportive environment that allowed me to thrive.”
Her colleagues also inspire her at work: “I really enjoy the camaraderie and teamwork with people who share the same vision and purpose of wanting to make a difference in the lives of the offenders and those around them,” she says.
Ms Loh was appointed to the Singapore Administrative Service in 2019 and now serves
as deputy director of special projects in the Planning Cell at the Ministry of Manpower.
Singapore Government Scholarship
Singapore citizens or permanent residents intending to take up Singapore citizenship; good co-curricular activities (CCA) records; GCE ‘A’ Levels (with at least 10 academic units), International Baccalaureate (IB), Polytechnic Diploma (with Merit) or equivalent; good
physical fitness (PES A or B) and good performance in National Service (for male applicants); keen interest in a career with the Home Team; also open for application for mid-term scholarship (undergraduate with at least one semester of university results, and not in final year of undergraduate studies)
VALUE OF AWARD:
Tuition and other approved fees; monthly overseas or local maintenance allowance;
pre-studies allowance e.g. settling-in, warm clothing, computer; return airfare for attachment programme; return airfare (for overseas universities); scholarship for master’s degree (if requirements are met); sponsorship for exchange programmes (if requirements are met)
Four years (local studies); five years (non-English speaking countries); six years (English speaking countries)
Terms and conditions apply. To find out more about the other scholarships offered by MHA, visit go.gov.sg/mhascholarships.