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How she's keeping S'pore resilient and agile in times of crisis
By Aster Tan
MHA senior assistant director
Ms Heather Loy, senior assistant director (Border Security), has worked at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for 13 years and was offered an opportunity by MHA to pursue her master’s at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2019. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA/FRENCHESCAR LIM

MHA senior assistant director coordinates policies to safeguard the nation from emerging threats

Think Home Team, and valiant, uniformed officers on the ground usually come to mind. However, there are other officers who work behind the scenes to keep the nation safe and secure.

One of them is Ms Heather Loy. In her career with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a Civilian Generalist, she has been through various domains such as policy development, joint operations and human resources. The 37-year-old also dealt with a range of issues from the historic relocation of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) railway operations from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to Woodlands Train Checkpoint, to the enacting of the Remote Gambling Act in 2014, which sought to protect vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by remote gambling.

One of the world’s most connected countries, Singapore is constantly exposed to external threats and influences. The MHA and its Home Team departments maintain border security to prevent the entry of undesirable persons or smuggling of prohibited items into the country while protecting Singapore’s sovereignty.

More on this topic: She is stitching together Singapore’s safety, security and social fabric

Now, as Singapore reopens its borders to the world, Ms Loy is reviewing and updating existing border security measures as a senior assistant director (Border Security) at the ministry.

She says: “As the pandemic has shown us, Singapore needs to be resilient, agile and flexible in planning for future crises. We need to look beyond traditional security threats and be ready for new or emerging threats.”

In order to do this, Ms Loy collaborates with colleagues from Home Team agencies, other ministries and private sector stakeholders, as well as foreign counterparts to develop security policies and measures for key infrastructural projects such as the redevelopment of Woodlands Checkpoint and Johor Bahru –Singapore Rapid Transit System Link.

Milestone projects

For the Woodlands Checkpoint redevelopment project, Ms Loy works closely with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on policy planning, communications approach and implementation plans. She also engages the relevant regulatory authorities on land use planning and various security considerations.

As part of her role in MHA’s Joint Operations Group, she engages stakeholders through discussions to review and update border security measures.

“In an environment that is unpredictable and evolving (like our borders), the security sector needs to be able to adapt quickly and navigate challenges,” she says.

This year marks Ms Loy’s 13th year at MHA. Joining the ministry as a senior executive, she has risen through the ranks and taken on key roles across different domains. At MHA, officers like Ms Loy enjoy an all-rounded career as they get to choose from a variety of postings and are encouraged to follow their interests by making their own career choices.

“Singapore needs to be resilient, agile and flexible in planning for future crises. We need to look beyond traditional security threats and be ready for new or emerging threats.”

– Ms Heather Loy, Senior assistant director (Border Security)
Ministry of Home Affairs

Ms Loy was also placed in the Home Team Leaders-in-Development Programme, which aims to develop future leaders in the Home Team.

In 2013, she was seconded to Contact Singapore, an agency that was previously an alliance between Economic Development Board and the Ministry of Manpower. She joined the Shanghai office, which broadened her horizons beyond the security lens and made her better appreciate the hard work that goes into ensuring that Singapore remains an attractive destination for investments and talents.

After her secondment to Contact Singapore, she returned to MHA and joined the Strategic Human Resource & Workforce team, which was in charge of looking at workforce planning and supporting workforce transformation for the Home Team.

Following this stint, Ms Loy was awarded an in-service scholarship to pursue her master’s degree. To complement her bachelor’s degree in political science from the National University of Singapore, she took up a master’s in History of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in September 2019, which allowed her to gain deeper insights into key events and personalities that shaped global events in history.

Even after her varied roles in MHA, Ms Loy is still passionate about the agency’s mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure. She wants to continue to make an impact on society and is eager to embark on new areas of work.

“I am looking forward to leading a team in the near future and perhaps going into a new domain within the MHA family, such as international relations,” she says.

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