MR WONG Kan Seng, who as Home Affairs Minister foresaw the need for a synergistic Home Team watching over Singaporeans' safety, received a big 'thank you' at a parade in his honour yesterday.

More than 1,000 people including MPs, current and former Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officers, community leaders and representatives from volunteer groups were at the Home Team Academy's parade square off Old Choa Chu Kang Road.

Mr Wong, 64, who is Deputy Prime Minister, leaves the MHA, which he has led over the past 17 years, tomorrow.

In his farewell speech, he thanked the 24,000 men and women in the ministry and said it had been a privilege and an honour to have been their minister.

While there had been 'good and some very difficult and tough times... I could always count on the Home Team officers to step up to the challenge and to persevere in the face of formidable adversity', he said.

He did not mention Jemaah Islamiah terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari, who escaped custody in 2008 before he was recaptured in April last year, although the episode was likely one of the more trying periods since he took over the ministry from Professor S. Jayakumar in January 1994.

DPM Wong passes the baton