I am petite and soft-spoken, so my family and friends were surprised by my decision to join Singapore Prison Service (SPS) at 18.
After junior college, I was offered a scholarship from the Ministry of Home Affairs and given the option to choose which home team department I wanted to work in. I decided on SPS because its tagline, “Captains of Lives”, resonated with me and my values. I believe that people who have
made mistakes deserve a second chance, and I felt that this way, I’d be able to impact other people’s lives and help make a difference.
HAIR Alison Tay MAKEUP Zoel Tee
Top & pants, Stella McCartney. Necklace, Jil Sander. Heels, Charles & Keith. Bracelet, stylist’s own.
I grew up in a single-parent household – my dad left when I was six years old, so my mum brought me and my two siblings up single-handedly. I had the privilege to go to university, so I want to give back in any way I can to those who might not have been as fortunate.
When I first joined SPS, I found myself in a male-dominated environment. I thought I had to be like one of them, to appear tough and fierce, so that the inmates and staff would listen to me. But I realised after a while that I don’t have to try and be like a man to gain the respect and trust of the inmates and other officers. I just had to be fair but firm, and show genuine concern for the people around me.
Being a woman in a male-dominated environment has been more of a strength, because I am able to contribute in ways that are different from my male counterparts
In 2016, I became second superintendent at Institution B4, a pre-release centre. My job was to assist the superintendent and lead about 100 prison officers – 80 per cent of whom were men – to ensure the safe and secure custody of approximately 1,300 male prisoners. Back then, I felt a little insecure as to how they would take to a younger female supervisor, but over time, I got to know them better, and many of them felt comfortable enough to talk to me about any difficulties they were facing.
At times, I feel like being a woman in a male-dominated environment has been more of a strength, because I am able to contribute in ways that are different from my male counterparts. Some of the male inmates have been willing to share their problems and open up to me, so I could actually help them more.
As a mother and a wife, I’m able to empathise with their family members when they visit. I’m able to provide a listening ear and offer words of encouragement. I would also tell the male inmates to not give up for their mums and their wives, and to look forward to life outside of prison.
— In partnership with Estée Lauder —
Tell us how you power on, from your self-care tips to your motivations. We’ll pick 10 readers with the most inspiring and empowering IG posts to win a 50ml bottle of Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum and Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex, worth $280. Make sure that your IG profile is public, follow @HerWorldSingapore and @EsteeLauder_SG, and include the following hashtags in your post: #HerWorldHerStory #HowWePowerOn #EsteeLauderSG. Contest ends March 28, 2021. Posts may also be featured on Estée Lauder’s Instagram.
PHOTOGRAPHY Veronica Tay & Vee Chin
ART DIRECTION Ray Ticsay & Adeline Eng
STYLING Lauren Alexa