DSP (V) Matthew Yap explains why he is committed to volunteering as a VSC officer and giving back to Singapore.
By: Ashwini Jayasankar
18 years ago, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Volunteer) or DSP (V) Matthew Yap enrolled as a Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) officer to set an example for his children and gain insight into the realm of law enforcement. Today, his son is keen to consider a career with the Singapore Police Force (SPF), following in DSP(V) Yap’s footsteps. He shares his VSC journey with us.
You hold two VSC appointments, Head, Recruitment, and Head, Police Operations Command Centre (POCC). What’s your regular job when you’re not a VSC officer?
I’m the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for an integrated facility management corporation. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was an aerodrome safety and aviation security consultant to a number of airport construction consortiums.
What inspired you to volunteer to be a VSC officer?
I served in the Singapore Armed Forces until I was 32, and my Warrant Officer then had encouraged me to join the VSC to learn about law enforcement and the security sector. He was a VSC officer himself and served for over 20 years.
When I applied to join the VSC in the early 2000s, the interview panel noted my military service and asked if I understood that I’d be conducting patrols as a rank-and-file officer. I did, so I started my VSC journey, and 18 years have passed in the wink of an eye.
My eldest son is now 19 and he’ll be enlisting for National Service (NS) this year. He’s keen to consider a Police career. My father also served his NS as a Police officer and, when I was young, it was always interesting to see him return home in his Police uniform and hear his stories during dinnertime.
What’s been your most memorable experiences as a VSC officer?
In many Land and Specialist Divisions, VSC officers perform the same frontline and operational duties as regular officers. I started my duties at the Airport Police Division, where I conducted foot and vehicle patrols at the airport terminals.
When the opportunity came for plainclothes work, I joined a raid with the investigation team. We arrested members of a syndicate that was responsible for computer chip pilferage. This was my first arrest and it felt like an action-packed episode of Crimewatch!
I was also fortunate to work as a planning officer for Assistant Commissioner (Ret) S Lakshmanan, a former Commander VSC. Together, we shaped VSC policies related to the extension of service, the Police Long Service State Medal and the VSC commitment awards. I also enjoyed hosting police forces from other countries and sharing with them how the VSC plays a frontline role to support our regular counterparts in the SPF.
Tell us about your experience working in the POCC.
I was appointed the first Head VSC for the POCC in 2021 to support our regular counterparts in responding to emergency calls from members of the public. I feel privileged to have built a VSC team of 24 officers at the POCC. Being able to hear directly from the public and to then dispatch Police resources for successful interventions spurs us to contribute even more.
The VSC has had an encouraging period of recruitment in 2023. What are some of the key trends in terms of those stepping forward to volunteer?
Applications dipped in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, but the numbers have resumed gradually and we hope to see more applicants coming forward to volunteer with us.
Our VSC population remains varied in terms of profiles and we encourage applicants of all eligible ages to sign up. We’re actively recruiting from our roadshows as well as spreading the message via recruitment campaigns and word-of-mouth. We also reach out to schools and companies to raise awareness of the VSC scheme and to encourage more applicants to come forward.
Very often, once applicants are familiar with what VSC officers do, they’ll be motivated to sign up as the role offers exciting opportunities for exposure and new experiences.
What advice do you have for those interested in serving as VSC officers?
I first started interviewing applicants in 2008 and have since been part of over 100 interview panels. Some applicants have concerns about the time commitment. But from my experience, VSC officers learn to multi-task very quickly and can balance their family time, work and volunteer responsibilities, all while remaining mission-focused. This attribute is highly desired by employers because knowing how to manage time and resource constraints are hallmarks of any major corporate project.
Besides “Volunteer,” what does the “V” in “VSC” mean to you?
“Values.” What VSC officers share with our regular counterparts is that when we do our duty, we also embody the SPF values of Courage, Loyalty, Integrity and Fairness. These values are also why I continue to serve as a VSC officer. The generation before us built Singapore from a Third World to a First World country, and I believe it’s our responsibility to serve wherever and whenever the country requires it.
We can all play a part to keep Singapore safe and secure! Learn more about the Volunteer Special Constabulary.