Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Royston Png has witnessed Timor-Leste transform from a war-torn Indonesian province into an independent country taking its first steps towards democracy.
After serving two year-long missions there with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF) in 2000 and 2003, ASP Png returned to Timor-Leste in 2011 to help train the local police force, conducting courses in areas such as tactical awareness and contingency planning.
In his last stint, ASP Png also did his part in ensuring that Timor-Leste became more stable during its fragile transition.
When violence broke out after the country's elections in July last year, he assisted in implementing measures such as travel restrictions imposed on Singapore Police Force (SPF) personnel stationed in Timor-Leste to reduce the risks faced by them.
"The situation was volatile. Sometimes the UN became targets of attack," said the 39-year-old UNPKF trainer and officer from the Police Security Command, an elite unit of hand-picked officers assigned to protect the President, ministers and other VIPs.
ASP Png recalled an incident in July last year, when he and a fellow SPF officer were surrounded by local villagers, who aggressively demanded money from them. They managed to escape unhurt from their harrowing experience.
"Safety is definitely something we take for granted back home," he said.