DEPUTY Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng bid a fond farewell yesterday to his 24,000-strong Home Team, which he led for 17 years.

Mr Wong, in a heartfelt e-mail message to officers of the Ministry of Home Affairs, paid tribute to them for keeping Singapore safe and secure, and expressed pride in their achievements, professionalism and innovation.

'Singapore's progress and prosperity over the years - its ability to attract investment, business and talent, as well as the well-being of Singaporeans derived from a confident sense of safety - have rested on a solid foundation of good security, law and order,' he wrote in an e-mail obtained by The Straits Times.

Mr Wong, 64, expressed his 'deep appreciation and respect' for the work his officers do 'across all ranks and duties'.

He added: 'It has been my privilege to have been your Minister for so long.'

The ministry oversees departments and divisions such as the Police Force, the Civil Defence Force, the Prison Service, the Internal Security Department, and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Goodbye to Home Team