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The Internal Security Department (ISD; 內部安全局; nèi bù ān quán jú; Jabatan Keselamatan Dalam Negeri; உள்நாட்டுப் பாதுகாப்புத் துறை) is a domestic intelligence agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore. It has the utmost right to detain without trial individuals suspected to be a threat to national security.

The stated mission is to confront and address security threats, including international terrorism, foreign subversion and espionage. The ISD also monitors and addresses potential threats from communism, prevention of racial tension which might affect the public peace, domestic counterterrorism, international counterterrorism, fraud against the state, surveillance, apprehension of suspected militants or terrorists and protection of Singapore's national borders.

Most of its manpower is drawn from the Singapore Police Force.[1]


ISD was first established as part of the Special Branch in 1948 by the British colonial government. In 1963, it became part of the Malaysian Special Branch when Singapore joined Malaysia. After Singapore gained independence, Internal Security Department was formally established on 17 February 1966. It was formerly part of the Ministry of Interior and Defence until it was split on 11 August 1970.

In 2004, it was placed under the National Security Coordination Secretariat to improve intelligence sharing with other national intelligence agencies.[2]


File:ISD and SPF hotline.JPG

An ISD hotline number on a sticker alongside a SPF hotline number.

The powers of investigation and arrest of the ISD are regulated by several laws, including:[3]


Template:See also

These events are related to ISD and internal security of Singapore.

  • 1950, Maria Hertogh riots.
  • 1963, arrest of left-wing politicians and trade unionists during Operation Coldstore.
  • 1964, 21 July - 8 September, race riots, took place on Muhammad's birthday.
  • 1965, 10 March, MacDonald House bombing by Indonesian saboteurs killed three people, during the konfrontasi period.
  • 1966, arrest of 22 members of Barisan Sosialis.
  • 1969, communal clashes spillover from the 13 May incident.
  • 1974, 31 January, Laju incident, the Japanese Red Army bombed petroleum tanks at Pulau Bukom and hijacked a ferry boat.
  • 1982, uncovered Singapore People's Liberation Organisation activities.
  • 1982, two Soviet spies, Anatoly Alexeyevich Larkin and Alexander Alexandrovich Bondarev, exposed for espionage activities.[4]
  • 1985, local network of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam uncovered.
  • 1987, arrest of 22 alleged pro-Marxist activists during Operation Spectrum.
  • 1991, four Pakistanis hijacked Singapore Airlines Flight 117.
  • 1997, 1998, six arrested for involvement in espionage and foreign subversive activities.
  • 2001, 9 December, members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) arrested for bomb plots on the American, Australian, British and Israeli embassies.
  • 2008, 27 February, Mas Selamat bin Kastari, alleged leader of JI's Singapore branch, escaped while under the ISD's custody.
  • 2009, 1 April, the Malaysian authorities captured Mas Selamat in Skudai, Johor.[5]
  • 2010, 8 February, the ISD summoned Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism over video clips posted on the church website that were deemed 'highly inappropriate and unacceptable' as they "trivialised and insulted the beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists".[6]

Known Directors[]

The identity of ISD's director is not conspicuously made known to the public, until he relinquishes the post. Many of ISD's former directors went on to take up higher offices, including:

  •  ?-1974: Yoong Siew Wah (head, then director from 1971)[7][8]
  • 1974-?: Wang Hsu Chih (acting director)[8]
  • 1975-1982: Lim Chye Heng (acting director, then director)[9][10]
  • 1982-1986: Eddie Teo, currently Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisors (CPA)
  • 1986-1993: Tjong Yik Min[11][12]
  • 1993-1997: Chiang Chie Foo, currently chairman of the Central Provident Fund Board[13][14]
  • 1997-2003: Benny Lim Siang Hoe, currently Permanent Secretary for National Development[14][15]
  •  ?-2010: Pang Kin Keong, became Permanent Secretary (Law) afterwards, followed up by Permanent Secretary (Transport) from 2012 to 1 Sep 2017, currently Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs[16])[17][18]
  •  ?-2016[19]: Loh Ngai Seng, also Second Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs) from 1 Jan 2016 to 1 Sep 2017, currently Permanent Secretary (Transport)[16][20]

See also[]

  • Security and Intelligence Division, the external intelligence agency


  • Lee Kuan Yew. (1998). The Singapore Story. Federal Publications. Template:ISBN
  • Mathew Jones, "Creating Malaysia: Singapore Security, the Borneo Territories and the Contours of British Policy, 1961-1963" in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 28, No. 2, May 2000. pp. 85–109
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  8. 8.0 8.1 Template:Cite web
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  14. 14.0 14.1 Template:Cite web
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  16. 16.0 16.1 Template:Cite web
  18. New appointments for other permanent secretaries, The Straits Times, 13 August 2010
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