There is a reason auxiliary police forces (APFs) are turning to Taiwan to fill their vacancies: They cannot find enough qualified Singaporeans and Malaysians.
The demand for auxiliary police officers (APOs) is projected to cross 600 over the next few years. But, since 2011, APFs such as Certis Cisco and Aetos have managed to grow their pool of Singaporean officers by only 250.
A Certis Cisco spokesman confirmed that it had been hard to find qualified Malaysians, too.
The response came in the wake of news reports that the outfit was looking to hire 120 Taiwanese nationals for its force here.
There are about 7,000 APOs here. They can be stationed at sensitive spots, such as immigration checkpoints, and can escort people in custody. They can also carry firearms and are allowed to arrest offenders.
"There is a shortage of the type of manpower needed for APFs... and APFs cannot get 600 APOs from Singapore, based on the last few years' experience," said a police spokesman.
"The majority of APOs in Singapore are Singaporeans. The Government requires that APOs at specific sensitive locations can only be Singaporeans. Foreign APOs are allowed to do other duties," he added.
Hiring such officers from Taiwan will mark the first time they will be recruited from a foreign source other than Malaysia.
Certis Cisco said that recruitment interviews will start next month, and the company hopes to hire university graduates, aged 20 to 40, on two-year contracts.
Their deployment will depend on the needs of various sites and the suitability of the recruits, the spokesman said.
Certis Cisco will have to get the green light from the authorities before deploying the recruited APOs, said the spokesman, who declined to share further details.
Aetos has also started exploring Taiwan as a possible source for APOs, and launched a recruitment drive last month through advertisements in Taiwanese newspapers.
An Aetos spokesman said it intends to hire 120 APOs, who will help to ease the manpower crunch and complement Singaporean and Malaysian APOs.
Aetos also finds it hard to recruit Singaporeans and Malaysians, the spokesman said. "Retention of Singaporeans is also a challenge. Many Singaporeans are not keen to take on the role of an APO," she said.
"This is attributed to the nature of the job - routine, tough working conditions: Having to endure vehicle fumes and harsh weather conditions, and performing shift duty."
While both companies are looking to tap Taiwan for recruits, The Straits Times (ST) understands that the authorities still have to approve the source of their manpower.
In response to ST queries about Taiwan as a source for APOs, a Ministry of Manpower spokesman said Taiwan is an existing approved source for work-permit holders in the services sector, but APFs need to meet other requirements imposed by the regulatory agency, the Singapore Police Force.
This article was first published on Dec 29, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.