FEATURES

07 March 2019

The Bonding Force

SPF Logo

By: Irwan Shah

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

Michael.J.Fox

Working as a police officer can be an admirable and rewarding career. However, most, if not all, would agree that being a police officer also involves lots of sacrifices. Ask any officers to name one distinct pillar of strength that keeps them going, family would most likely be the most common answer. More than just a pillar of strength, family members are also a source of inspiration for many. In this issue, we bring you a peek into the lives of two duos – a mother and daughter as well as a pair of sisters – who are intimately ‘bonded’ by the Force.

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Meet Senior Staff Sergeant (SSSgt) See Toh Sok Yin and her daughter, Inspector (Insp) Amanda Lee Wei Ann. The mother-daughter duo has a combined service of more than 38 years in the Singapore Police Force (SPF), going back all the way to 1981 when SSSgt See Toh first joined the Force.

What motivated you to become a police officer?

Insp Lee: I grew up listening to stories from my mother about her life in the SPF and how it had shaped her as a person. Even though she could not reveal details of her work, the stories that she shared were enough to spark the curiosity in me. Apart from my curiosity, I was also inspired by some of the stories that revealed the kind of dedication and sacrifices that our police officers go through to keep our homes safe. I wanted to experience and see the world through a police officer’s lens and experience their action-packed lives. I want to do my part to keep our homes safe too.

What was your reaction when your daughter expressed her interest to follow your footsteps?

SSSgt See Toh: I was grinning from ear to ear when she told me that she wanted to join the SPF. Though policing work has become more and more challenging over the years, I firmly believe that this is a good career for her to pick up useful life skills, experience life and understand how fortunate she is to be able to enjoy the peace and harmony that we have now.

How was it like growing up in a family of police officers?

Insp Lee: My parents were strict with my upbringing. I was often banned from doing certain things or going to certain places. Initially, I could not understand why but after joining the Force, I realised that my parents only wanted me to be safe and not be led astray. Their strict upbringing also shaped me to become a disciplined individual and that really helped me eased in to my training regime and my job.

What was one of the memorable moments you had together in the SPF?

Insp Lee: The most memorable moment was when we took a family photo together at my Passing Out Parade. I felt a huge sense of satisfaction knowing that I am officially one of them – family of police officers.

What are some of your challenges working together in the same organisation?

Insp Lee: As both of us are from different departments, we need to be conscientious about the things we talk about for operational secrecy reasons.

SSSgt See Toh: Due to our hectic work schedules, it is sometimes hard to even meet each other at home for a chat. So whenever there is an opportunity, we will call each other to catch up. 

How do you feel about having each other in the same organisation? 

Insp Lee: I am fine with working in the same organisation as my mother but maybe not the same department. Sometimes, when my mother's colleagues are transferred to my department, they will give me a shout out and say," Hi. I know your mum.” I think it is cool because it eases the introduction process and makes it easier for us to work together.

SSSgt See Toh: Now that Amanda is in the Force, I feel that I can better share and relate with her my experiences and challenges as a female police officer. We are each other’s mental support. I would also not be overly worried if she were to come home late from work since I understand her work commitments.

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Meet Station Inspector (SI) Joanna Rosman Ismail and her younger sister, SSSgt Maria Rosman Ismail from the Police Coast Guard (PCG). The two sisters joined the SPF back in 2002 and 2004 respectively, but a twist of fate recently brought them together under one roof at PCG’s Brani base. Currently, SSSgt Maria is a Crew Commander who is temporarily posted to PCG’s National Servicemen Branch,  [MZL(1]while SI Joanna is an Assisting Logistics Officer at PCG’s Logistics and Administration Branch.

What motivated you to become a police officer?

SSSgt Maria: When my elder sister joined the SPF in 2002, I was still in school. Whenever we had  family dinners, she would share stories of her training experience. I found it very interesting to listen to her experience and challenges going through the different courses, such as the Steersman Course, to be part of the PCG. As I learnt more and more about the SPF, it made me more eager to become a police officer as I wanted to be part of all the action! In 2004, I took the plunge and began my journey with the Force.

What is it like working together in the same organisation?

SSSgt Maria: We always have each other to confide in and my sister will give her advice whenever I face certain issues or problems. It gives me an unknown force of strength and confidence to keep myself at ease when doing my job. The best part is, we get to attend events such as Dinner & Dance (D&D) events together.

SI Joanna: Being in the same unit puts us at the same wavelength and helps us to keep up with each other’s ‘frequency’-conversation for that matters. To add on to what my sister said about D&D, we even engaged a hairstylist to come over to our house to style our hair because the theme was glamour night. We never fail to dress up at almost every D&D event. There was once that we clinched the 2nd (SSSgt Maria) and 3rd place (SI Joanna) for the “Best Dressed” category. My sister is the perfect partner for such events.

How do you find quality time with each other outside of work?

SSSgt Maria: One of the biggest challenges that we face is finding quality time for each other. Being a frontline crew commander requires me to work on shift hours and it can be difficult for me to spend time with my sister since she works office hours. For instance, during public holidays, my sister usually has the day off while my day off would be dependent on my scheduled roster for the week. Thus, to spend some quality family time together, we usually try to plan in advance.

How has your bond evolved during your time in the SPF?

SSSgt Maria: We come from a very close-knit family, so we have always been very close. After joining the SPF, I found that my sister and I have more common topics to talk about. We can better relate to each other as we share about our day at work or the kind of cases we face. Working in the same organisation brought us closer!

SSI Joanna: My sister is very active in the arts while I am keen in outdoor activities. When she shared with me about her theatre performances at Kallang theatre, I just could not relate. The same goes for me. When I told her about my hiking experience at Mount Ophir, I knew she could not fully appreciate the experience that I was sharing even though she listened. Now, there is better interaction between us as we share similar experiences and stories from our work. Having said that, siblings will always be siblings and we will still have moments of sibling rivalry between us.

Tell us about your proudest memory of one another at work?

SSSgt Maria: My sister is actively involved in the Police Sports Association sporting competitions. She excelled in both bowling and dragon boating. When her team clinched first place during the SPF inter-unit dragon boat and bowling competitions, I felt a sense of pride and joy when people pointed out and said, “Hey, that is your sister!”

SSI Joanna: I felt really proud of my sister when she was featured in an article by our local Malay newspaper, Berita Harian, a few years ago. The article was about women who are from uniformed organisations and their experiences. In addition to that, my sister also used to be the ‘poster girl’ of the PCG back then and you could see her face on the PCG posters. People would come to ask me if the girl is my sister and I would be secretly proud of my sister while responding “Yes, that is my sister.”

 

Last Updated on 07 March 2019