He may have started his service on land, but the waters are where Police Coast Guard NS Commander DAC (NS) Ham Yean Soon’s heart lies.

When protecting our waters, a split-second decision can make all the difference. Police Coast Guard (PCG) NS Commander DAC (NS) Ham Yean Soon is well aware of that, having spent some 15 years in PCG and taken part in several operations — some of which involved high-speed chases at sea and even the retrieval of bodies from Singapore’s waterways. “Think fast and think on your feet” is a lesson the 49-year-old has learnt from these experiences, which have deepened his appreciation of PCG’s role in safeguarding our nation’s territorial waters.

DIRECTING MARITIME SECURITY EFFORTS WAS A ROLE

DAC (NS) Ham wasn’t always familiar with, however, as he served his National Service (NS) in the Singapore Police Force’s land division and was transferred to PCG only when he started his reservist cycle. To prepare for his new role, DAC (NS) Ham underwent a seven-day conversion course, during which his swimming and lifesaving skills in the water came in handy. During his NS stint, he had received the Bronze Medallion, a certification of proficiency in aquatic rescue. “On hindsight, my PCG stint seems like a natural fit,” quips DAC (NS) Ham, who is a Head of Service Management at a telco company.

SERVING WITH PRIDE

DAC (NS) Ham feels “humbled and honoured” to be able to lead the NS wing of the PCG, which has over 2,000 active servicemen. Together, they supplement existing deployments by providing manpower relief and support to the regular units. But as DAC (NS) Ham reveals, being a support unit doesn’t mean any less action. He recalls a memorable experience while performing boat patrol, where his team was activated to retrieve a dead body from the waters. “It’s something I’ll never forget,” he shares, detailing how a smaller craft had to be launched to manoeuvre the narrow waterway and eventually retrieved the body.

Such operations occur during the NS PCG’s operational recalls. This is on top of the days set aside for training where there would be adequate breaks during an operational recall. “This allows the regulars to spend more time with their loved ones,” shares DAC (NS) Ham. “We see it as a way of showing them our support and complementing the force.”

LEADING THE WAY

Under his leadership, the NS PCG has made several strides to improve the physical fitness, skills and morale of NSmen. The most significant of these was a decision four years ago to group and assign NSmen to their posts based on where they live. This prevents long commutes and allows NSmen to make the most of their time in service. Another initiative is to recall NSmen with their peers so that the teams can build on bonds that are already strong.

According to DAC (NS) Ham, feedback to these measures has been positive. “As a leader, I see it as my role to help my men excel and do their best. The decisions we make are brainstormed as a unit, which means that everyone has a say.”

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