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Lifestyle

To click or not to click?

Phishing scams have unfortunately been in the news again. Here are some simple steps you can take to avoid falling victim to common scams online.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

Imagine losing your life savings in a matter of minutes. That nightmarish scenario was reality for many victims of the recent OCBC Bank phishing scam, which saw S$13.7 million lost from the accounts of 790 bank customers.

Phishing scams are online attacks in which cybercriminals trick people into handing over their confidential information, such as bank details, passwords and credit card information by creating websites, emails and text messages that seem to come from a legitimate organisation, such as a government agency or a bank.

In the last few years, Singaporeans’ financial activity has increasingly shifted online – a trend accelerated by COVID-19 as digital finance and e-payments were encouraged to maintain safe-distancing measures. However, this has also resulted in an increase in phishing scams and hacking attempts. In the last five-and-a-half years, online scammers have stolen close to S$1 billion from people living in Singapore, with 2020 seeing the highest amount of S$268.4 million lost.

Instead of going back to the old days of stashing money in Milo tins and piggy banks under your bed, these few simple checks can help to ensure that your precious savings are safe from online criminals and their phishing methods.

LOOK FOR THE SMALL DIFFERENCES

Cybercriminals have developed increasingly sophisticated ways to trick unwary consumers, so it pays to be extra vigilant when making online transactions.

Phishing has become more sophisticated, as cybercriminals are able to spoof the Short Message Service (SMS) Sender IDs of real banks. This means that their fraudulent text messages will be sorted into the same SMS thread as legitimate ones. This causes victims to assume the messages are real and act on them accordingly.

However, there are still some differences. Phishing messages often have errors in grammar or spelling.  They may use threatening language or issue ultimatums to scare victims (“Your account will be deleted if you don’t act now!”).

If they arrive via email, their addresses won’t match those belonging to the real organisation they’re imitating – for example, a phishing email might be from frontline@hmeteamns.com instead of frontline@hometeamns.sg. For WhatsApp messages, check for a green check mark next to the organisation name. This indicates that the message is from the organisation’s official business account.

In addition, if you accidentally click on a phishing website, you might notice that it starts with ‘http’ instead of ‘https’. The latter denotes a secure version used by legitimate websites like banks and online retailers, to protect your login credentials.

DON’T CLICK THE LINK

If you receive a message that claims to be from a trusted organisation, don’t click on the link automatically. Besides, banks in Singapore have recently announced that they’ll stop using clickable links in emails and SMSes for greater security. To see where a link leads to, mouse over it on your computer, or hold it down with a finger on your phone to see the full address.

It’s safer to log in using the bank or organisation’s app on your phone, or by visiting their website. If the message is real, you should see a notification in the app or on the website. If you don’t see anything but would still like to check, it’s safer to call the organisation. Don’t use any numbers provided in the suspected message. You may end up speaking to a scammer instead!

DON’T PROVIDE CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

No genuine organisation will ever ask for your personal information (like NRIC number, Singpass login, bank account details or passwords) online. Should a bank or government agency require sensitive information, they would ask you to visit a branch or office in person.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Cybercriminals have developed increasingly sophisticated ways to trick unwary consumers, so it pays to be extra vigilant when making online transactions.

Phishing messages might try to tempt victims with freebies, chances to win prizes or unusually large discounts on popular goods. Last year, NTUC FairPrice alerted customers to an email – supposedly from FairPrice Online – that offered people S$80 for answering a few survey questions. If the offer is suspiciously generous, it’s probably fake.

WHAT’S THE RUSH?

Finally, phishing attacks often rely on a victim being distracted or panicked, two emotions which override their natural caution.

For example, one victim of the OCBC Bank phishing scam was anxious when she received a fake text message claiming that her account would be suspended, as she needed to make several transactions to her children’s bank accounts. Scammers eventually took close to S$100,000 from her and her children’s bank accounts.

Instead of reacting immediately to any messages or emails, take the time to evaluate their content. Don’t perform transactions or disclose banking details when you’re in a rush, or distracted. Set aside the time to sit down and focus fully on the information presented to you. This might take a few extra minutes, but it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

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Featured In The Force

Empowered to save lives

With myResponder, SCDF ORNSmen such as Sergeant1 (V) William Lim Wei Loon are always prepared for emergencies.

TEXT AND PHOTO: SCDF

Community First Responders (CFRs) have always played a pivotal role in times of need. Smart solutions like the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)’s myResponder mobile application (app) significantly enhance their response to emergencies. Launched in 2019, more than 100,000 CFRs have registered with the app. These responders include members of the public, as well as in-house personnel such as the SCDF Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) men and volunteers from the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU).

READY TO RESPOND

“I would have the myResponder app turned on, even at work, so that I could respond to any emergency happening nearby,” shared SGT1 (V) William Lim Wei Loon, an Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) Fire and Rescue Specialist with 1st SCDF Division, who works as a retail supervisor at NTUC FairPrice.

SGT1 (V) Lim completed his full-time National Service (NSF) in 2008 and joined the CDAU as a volunteer firefighter in 2011. “Since my NSF days, I have been trained to be very alert to my surrounding environment, and my first instinct is to always check for any emergency nearby,” he added.

THINKING ON HIS FEET

It was through the myResponder app that SGT1 (V) Lim was alerted to a rubbish bin fire at a void deck in Bukit Batok at about 3am one morning. When he arrived at the location there was neither a fire hose nor an extinguisher nearby.

After surveying the area, he spotted a funeral wake a block away and rushed over to request for assistance to put out the fire. “Whenever I respond to a fire incident, I have to be creative enough to find an effective solution to a problem in the fastest way possible,” said SGT1 (V) Lim. “The people there were very kind and they helped me to extinguish the fire using pails of water from the temporary toilets located outside the funeral hall.”

Besides responding to the myResponder app’s alerts, SGT1 (V) Lim also extinguished a rubbish bin fire near his home two years ago. He was alerted to the blaze after hearing an explosion in his neighbourhood. He rushed to the location but the flames had already spread to a minivan parked nearby.

“As I did not want any passers-by to be harmed, I put out the fire with two fire extinguishers that were taken from the nearby coffeeshop before the firefighters arrived. At the same time, I had to ensure that no one was injured,” said SGT1 (V) Lim.

He added: “As a CFR, I am touched whenever a member of the public thanked me for helping him or her through a crisis. That keeps me going as a volunteer with the SCDF!”

Find out more about how you can make a difference in your community with the CDAU and how other MHA volunteers are helping to keep their neighbourhoods safe.

Visit mha.gov.sg/volunteers and volunteer.gov.sg/mha for more information about their volunteer schemes or connect with the Home Team Volunteer Network on InstagramFacebook or TikTok.

Categories
Shape Up

Powering up in pairs

Couples who train together stay together. In the first of a two-part series, our HomeTeamNS Fitness Workz trainers share why couple workouts are a great way to keep those fitness aspirations roaring in the Year of the Tiger.

TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB

PHOTOS: FITNESS WORKZ

The Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day festivities have come and gone. For many of us, it means resuming our exercise programme after a relatively lengthy break. Fortunately, hitting the gym or fitness corner to burn off those calories needn’t be a chore. Here’s how a good workout buddy can not only help pull you to into a consistent workout routine, but also push you to greater fitness heights.

GETTING YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME

Fitness Workz Fitness Trainer Azmirah Azman says that working out with your partner provides a good motivational boost.

According to Fitness Workz Fitness Trainer, Azmirah Azman, couple workouts are a great way to boost comfort levels and motivation as you embark on your fitness regime. “It’s a common case where an individual may feel lost and not know what to do in the gym,” she explains. “Your partner can be there for guidance and to brainstorm more exercises that both of you can do together.”

Never underestimate the power of two people aligned towards a common goal. Studies have shown that couple workouts can have a positive impact in the long term. According to research, married pairs working out together were twice as likely to experience weight loss. Two years on, it was observed that seven in 10 married pairs continued to work out weekly, compared to only 25% of individuals doing the same.

According to our expert, the reasons for this are manifold — whether it’s due to having someone to schedule workouts with, a consistent partner to spot you at the gym, or simply the fun of doing something with someone you love. “A partner acts as support system when one is in doubt,” Ms Azmirah shares. “Having similar goals to be achieved together will lead to a stronger bond and increased confidence levels for both parties.”

A WHOLE NEW WORLD OF EXERCISE

Fitness Trainer Aidid Haidil, who is also a big advocate of couple workouts, notes that couples don’t necessarily need to head to the gym to get their blood pumping. “You can head to the park, fitness corners, stadiums or even your own void deck to do bodyweight exercises and other fitness programmes,” he suggests.

He adds that working out as a pair unlocks a slew of new and varied exercises that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do solo. This spans a large range of workouts that cover both calisthenics and exercises incorporating fitness equipment. For example, with an exercise buddy, you can add greater depth to conventional exercises like push-ups. Partners can attempt new variants such as partner push-ups with shoulder taps and elevated push-ups.

Mr Aidid personally recommends exercises like leg raises, resistance band jumps and sit-up medicine ball passes, depending on each person’s level of fitness. He also reminds couples keep things fresh in order to stay motivated. Outside of workouts, they can also explore ‘fitness date’ activities like spin classes, hiking, kayaking and rock climbing.

OPTIMISED WORKOUTS FOR EVERY LEVEL OF FITNESS

Fitness Workz Fitness Trainer Aidid Haidil says that couples can also add ‘fitness date’ activities like spin classes, hiking and rock climbing to their fitness routine.

As with every training regimen, it’s important to understand both your and your partner’s level of fitness and adapt your routine accordingly. For beginners, Ms Azmirah recommends starting off your couple workouts slow and steady. Set short-term, achievable goals in order to keep each other going. “Start off with a 5-minute dynamic warm-up. This is to mobilise and increase blood flow to prepare their body for a workout and to avoid injuries,” she advises.

Instead of opting for heavy weights, beginners could start off with stack weight machines and plate loaded machines before changing to free weights. “Help each other perform the exercises with better form before increasing the weights,” she advises. “Of course, don’t be shy to approach fitness professionals or fitness enthusiasts to ask for assistance and advice.”

For more advanced exercise aficionados, Mr Aidid recommends some friendly competition and benchmarking in order to push each other to greater heights. “Veteran fitness buffs — who already have the knowledge — could set challenges for each other, be it carrying the max weight or hitting their personal records,” he suggests.

He further notes that as couples become more advanced in both physical fitness and workout knowledge, they should make imbalances and differences in strength work to their advantage. “Pick your own sprint- and rest-speeds. Teach each other and keep things interesting!” he says.

IN IT FOR THE LONG RUN

Just like any good relationship, recognise that your fitness journey as a couple is a marathon, not a sprint. Understanding your partner’s strengths and weaknesses are just as important as recognising what their goals are and how comfortable they are embarking on certain types of exercises.

Whatever the case, it’s most important to keep things consistent. Our Fitness Workz trainers recommend getting into a routine schedule and sticking to it. “If you both work office hours, an hour of working out together should be fine, excluding cardio. Doing so 3 times a week would be a good start,” shares Azmirah. “30 minutes of cardio a day for 5 days in a week is recommended for each individual. If both of you could brisk walk or run together after their workout, that would be even better!” Mr Aidid adds.

Looking for workout inspiration? In Part 2 of this series, our Fitness Workz trainers recommend some exercises for couples to try out, whatever your skill level! Stay tuned for more.

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Close Up

Becoming a family man

CPT (NS) Muhd Saufi bin Abdul Rashid on marriage and starting a family of his own helped him view life from a fresh perspective.

TEXT: KEENAN PEREIRA

PHOTOS: CPT (NS) MUHD SAUFI BIN ABDUL RASHID

 

For many, the year-end season is a period to slow down and spend time with family and friends. However, CPT (NS) Muhd Saufi bin Abdul Rashid’s work in the medical technologies sector brought him to Switzerland in December 2021 for a month, away from his wife and their three-year-old son. “I missed my family! What’s worse, my son kept asking my wife ‘Where is daddy?’ and why I wasn’t home yet,” shares the 32-year-old.

For those who know CPT (NS) Saufi from his national service days, this might sound like an out-of-character statement, because he never expected to be a family man.

After all, he describes himself as being the “joker” of the Special Rescue Unit, where he was a platoon commander during his fulltime NS stint. Despite his rank, he was always ready to cheer up those around him with a joke — if the time and situation allowed for it, of course. “I didn’t think this would change,” he reflects.

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE

CPT (NS) Saufi says that his parents' lifelong encouragement helped him keep faith in his abilities.

But change he did, after meeting his wife of five years and having their first child three years ago. “They completely transformed my perspective on life. I realised I had to get serious about things, such as getting a house, doing well in my career and being the best version of me. I wasn’t living for myself anymore; I had a family to care for and who depend on me.”

Fortunately, it was an effortless transition. That’s because CPT (NS) Saufi had “lived singlehood to the fullest”. Any sport you name, he is likely to have played it, be it badminton or archery tag. “I also took part in various cultural activities, like dikir barat (a style of Malay choral singing) and even lion dance,” he says.

With so many endeavours under his belt, it’s no wonder CPT (NS) Saufi is happy to give as much time as he has to his family. He tells Frontline that he hopes his brood will grow in the coming year. “Ideally, I’ll want two more children to complete the set,” he quips.

COMMITTED AND CARING

CPT (NS) Saufi (left) was a platoon commander in the SCDF's Special Rescue Unit during his fulltime NS stint (This photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic).

CPT (NS) Saufi’s commitment to his family’s wellbeing is clear as he discusses his return to Singapore from Switzerland in early January. To protect his young one from COVID-19, he opted to stay at his parents’ house for seven days upon his return, even though he had tested negative for the virus. “My son is too young to be vaccinated so I wanted to make sure he doesn’t suffer needlessly, in case the virus manifested after I came back,” he explains.

“I did not video call him often when I was away because of the seven-hour time difference between Singapore and Switzerland. So it was quite a big sacrifice to have to be away from him for another week,” says CPT (NS) Saufi. Still, he was determined to do “what’s right for (his) family”.

As someone who had received great support from his parents throughout his life, CPT (NS) Saufi understands the strength of family bonds. Crucially, they encouraged him to forge his own path, motivating him to complete his Normal (Technical) education, enter the Institute of Technical Education and later, a polytechnic.

CPT (NS) Saufi went on to become an officer in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). “Their encouragement reminded me that it’s not about how far others say you can go; what’s more important is how far you want to go. I owe so much to them,” he says with gratitude.

CPT (NS) Saufi’s striving for excellence continues to this day, both at work and in his role as an Officer Commanding (OC) of the 31 Rescue Battalion. For his strong and inspirational leadership, he was presented with the NSman of the Year Award in 2021. He cherishes this honour, but true to form, credits those around him for his success. “I am who I am because of them.”

FINDING BALANCE

Like many young parents, CPT (NS) Saufi knows what it feels like to balance commitments to family, work and National Service. He currently works in the medical technologies industry, where he pulls 12-hour shifts.

“After a long day, I look forward to going home and spending time playing with my son and chatting with my wife,” he says. CPT (NS) Saufi works a four-day week, giving him just enough time to also visit his parents, in-laws and, crucially, himself as well. “Sundays are my ‘do-nothing’ days, where my wife and I just watch Netflix or relax.”

Categories
Lifestyle

Special deals to celebrate your special someone

From favourite flowers to a mid-day getaway, make this Valentine’s Day one to remember without burning a hole in your pocket.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday this year. But whether you’re embarking on a new relationship or celebrating decades of marriage, a treat on 14 February lends a spark of romance to even the most mundane of weekdays.

That doesn’t mean that you have to empty out your wallet, though. Little gestures like writing your loved one a simple, heartfelt message or getting up early to prepare breakfast for them before work can be far more meaningful than splurging on costly gifts or dinners.

You can even get creative and choose to make memories to last a lifetime by booking a photo studio session or a ManCave afternoon retreat for two. And if romance is not in the cards for you this February, feel free to treat yourself instead – after all, self-care is a form of love too!

GIFTS TO SPOIL YOUR VALENTINE

Humming

Photo: Humming

Flowers are a traditional Valentine’s gift – but if the seasonal price of a bouquet makes you feel less than warm and fuzzy, make sure to download the HomeTeamNS mobile app onto your device to retrieve the promo code. From 17 January to 15 February, enjoy 10 per cent off all Valentine’s Day flowers and gifts at Humming, with no minimum spend required.

JBL

Photo: JBL

Is your Valentine a musician, gamer or just someone who sits through too many Zoom meetings? JBL offers a wide range of speakers, headphones and earbuds to suit all audio needs. From 3 February to 28 February, enjoy 15 per cent off already-discounted promotional prices. View the promo code on the HomeTeamNS mobile app.

A DINE-IN DATE FOR TWO

Winestone

Photo: Winestone

Impress your partner with dinner and drinks at Winestone, a modern European restaurant, bar and wine retail store at Stevens Road. Till 28 February, make a reservation and flash your HomeTeamNS card to redeem 10 per cent off the Valentine’s Day Set Menu (S$88++ per person), which features crowd-pleasers like seafood bisque, Australian beef tenderloin with foie gras and cured smoked salmon loin salad.

Lola Faye

Photo: Lola Faye

For a sugary-sweet casual date, check out Lola Faye. Located in the Jalan Besar enclave, the Muslim-owned cafe offers wraps, sandwiches and their specialty gelato-based desserts.

Try the Buttermilk Belgian waffles topped with a scoop of gelato, or have your gelato stuffed into a buttery, flaky croissant and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Until 28 February, between Tuesdays to Thursdays from 2 to 6pm, display your HomeTeamNS membership card for 10 per cent off your total bill.

EXPERIENCES TO SHARE

Pierre Ooi Photography

Photo: Pierre Ooi Photography

Snaps meant for social media are fun, but having a professional take your photos can bring them to a whole new level, especially if you and your significant other want to take a more formal portrait. For families, it can also be a fun way to commemorate a broader celebration of love. Exclusive to HomeTeamNS and SAFRA members, enjoy a 50 per cent discount on Pierre Ooi Photography’s Classic Family Photography package (original price S$388, discounted price S$188) for shoots during the month of February.

Held at the HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier Clubhouse, the photography package features one 20-inch by 16-inch canvas portrait with framing, one 12-inch by 8-inch laminated photograph with framing, and two soft copies of selected, edited, high-resolution images. WhatsApp 8112 3114 to book.

HomeTeamNS Khatib ManCaves

Photo: HomeTeamNS

Despite the name, the ManCaves – well-equipped entertainment and work spaces at the HomeTeamNS Khatib Clubhouse – can be a getaway for couples. From just S$6 an hour on weekdays, you can enjoy lunch and tea break for two – as well as a great opportunity to reconnect in a quiet environment without the noise and interruptions of everyday life.

Relive your dating days while sipping coffee, get artsy with a paint-by-numbers kit or duel it out over a console game – being together in the moment is all you need to keep the flame alive. From 14 to 18 February, book your ManCave here for a Valentine’s Day celebration both of you will love.

More promotions and opportunities await at HomeTeamNS clubhouses! Keep abreast with the latest membership promotions and share them with your friends.

Whether you’re heading to the cinema or watching in the comfort of home, movies are another great option for Valentine’s Day.

Categories
Club Buzz

Roping in a new training syllabus standard

The Singapore Sport Climbing and Mountaineering Federation launched a new national syllabus to align the training standards for instructors of high-ropes activities.

TEXT: ADLINA ADAM

IMAGES: HOMETEAMNS

Various rope-course facilities in Singapore adopt different standards and teaching methods for their instructors and trainers on the safety management of high-rope activities. The Singapore Sport Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (SSCMF) saw the need to set a common standard for training courses so instructors would impart the same knowledge and best practices to trainees.

It rounded up a team of programme specialists, and together with HomeTeamNS, the People’s Association’s PAssion Wave and two other corporations, developed a set of new training standards.

The Singapore National High Ropes Standards by SSCMF was launched on 18 January 2022 at HomeTeamNS Adventure HQ by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development, and President of HomeTeamNS. The event was graced by guests and members of the high-ropes industry.

“As one of Singapore’s leading adventure facilities providers and teambuilding venues, HomeTeamNS welcomes the launch of the national standards for high ropes training,” said Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS.

“We believe it will help to regulate the industry, equip specialists with the best practices and encourage continued pursuit for excellence.”

She added that HomeTeamNS is privileged to play a part in SSCMF’s milestone achievement.

“Our involvement echoes our commitment to build a strong team of in-house Adventure Specialists and contribute to the growth and development of adventure pursuits, a matter close to the hearts of our NSmen.”

ADVENTURE SPECIALISTS TO THE RESCUE

During the launch, two rescue demonstrations were performed by SSCMF and HomeTeamNS specialists.

In the first scenario, a participant tripped while walking along an obstacle course and fell. A specialist approached the participant and set up separate anchor points to transfer the participant’s weight to his anchor system. The participant’s safety line was then removed before being lowered down.

In another scenario, a participant lost his grip at the rock wall, fell off and was unable to climb again due to exhaustion. A specialist then used traditional techniques such as the “Munter Hitch” and “Auto-Bloc”, to secure his weight before releasing the participant’s safety line.

After the participants were brought to safety, a copy of the syllabus was presented to Assoc Prof Faishal. This marked the official launch of the national high ropes standard, signifying the new journey that the high-ropes industry will be embarking upon in time to come.

TAPPING INTO INDUSTRY EXPERTISE

Mr Iswandi Masduki, Assistant Director of the Business Development and Marketing unit in HomeTeamNS, shared that the organisation currently works with an external partner to train a selected group of senior specialists as in-house trainers.

The certifications received are site-specific to the Association’s facilities. In turn, the senior specialists will conduct monthly training and refresher courses for the other specialists.

“With the introduction of this national standard, all our specialists will now be trained under a nationally-recognised curriculum, which is more structured. It also allows our instructors access to knowledge of the industry’s best practices,” he added.

FUN FACTS ABOUT ADVENTURE HQ

Adventure HQ is Singapore’s largest multi-installation indoor adventure centre. Spanning across four storeys, the 2,800sqm facility feature 10 kaleidoscopic adventure installations, catering to all levels of adrenaline thrills for the young, and young at heart.

Adventure HQ is home to Singapore’s…

  • FIRST Indoor Roll Glider
  • LONGEST INDOOR SLIDE at 14m
  • FIRST 165m long Indoor Artificial Caving
  • BIGGEST two-tiered, 16 elements Indoor Challenge Ropes Course

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Visit Adventure HQ at HomeTeamNS Khatib and have the time of your life!

Categories
In The Force

Putting others first

Meet Mr Choo Hock Hua, an active 75-year-old who enjoys spreading the word about crime prevention and caring for fellow seniors.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: MHA

“Singapore is a safe country, but low crime doesn’t mean no crime”, says Mr Choo Hock Hua, 75, a Crime Prevention Ambassador (CPA) who has been volunteering with the National Crime Prevention Council for 18 years.  When asked what his motivation as a volunteer was, Mr Choo said he finds meaning in serving the community. “I see the role and function of the National Crime Prevention Council as a good cause to further enhance the safety and security of Singapore. Joining the CPA programme allows me to help spread the crime prevention message to Singaporeans,” he says.

As a CPA volunteer, Mr Choo helps to conduct crime prevention talks and organise crime prevention exhibitions to educate the community, especially senior citizens. He shares updates about criminal tactics and advises them on simple crime prevention measures to safeguard themselves. “For example, when they receive a suspicious phone call (that they) believe to be a scam, they should practice the: ‘Don’t Panic, Don’t Believe, Don’t Give,’ mantra,” he explains. Mr Choo and his team works closely with Central Police Station officers to conduct chit chat sessions with the elderlies, mostly in dialects. He would share crime prevention messages and distribute crime prevention brochures. The brochures highlight various crimes and their prevention such as online purchase scam, investment scam, impersonation scams and love scam. “I believe that by constantly chit chatting with the elderly, they would remember simple crime prevention message so as to protect themselves from being a victim of crime. In addition to volunteering as a CPA, Mr Choo also serves as a grassroots leader at the Chin Swee Residents’ Committee (RC), a role he has taken in for the past 20 years. He is thus very passionate about caring for the elderly.

TO THE RESCUE

Mr Choo giving a gift pack to an elderly resident after the flu injection exercise in December 2021.

CPAs are sometimes involved in non-crime prevention activities as well. During a flu vaccination exercise in December 2021, many senior residents had difficulty getting their shots due to mobility issues. Mr Choo and a team of CPAs, who are also grassroots leaders, visited their homes to assist with the flu shots, which were administered by certified nurses.

They also presented each senior with a gift bag of daily necessities prepared by the RC, which reduce the need for them to venture outside their homes after their injection. “Seeing the residents smile and nodding their heads in acknowledging our efforts made me feel proud and keeps me motivated to serve the community. I will continue to serve the elderly in Chin Swee as long as my assistance is required,” says Mr Choo.

ENCOURAGING VOLUNTEERISM

Mr Choo tells Frontline that he intends to continue volunteering with CPA, and strongly encourages others to use their time for a meaningful cause. “Crime Prevention is everybody’s responsibility. It’s like brushing your teeth and washing your face; we need to do them daily,” says Mr Choo.

“Likewise, every day we must look out for one another in our family and neighbourhood. We should be wary of dubious get-rich-quick schemes and online that are too good to be true. This will help protect us and our family from becoming victims of crime.”

Mr Choo also highlights the importance of work-life balance when volunteering. “It is essential to plan ahead and have a contingency plan,” he says. “I am lucky to have a supportive wife and a team of helpful and cooperative grassroots leaders to help me whenever I am involved in CPA activities.”

GET INVOLVED

The Crime Prevention Ambassador (CPA) volunteer was a scheme launched in 2002 by the Crime Prevention Council (CPC). The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is a non-profit organisation committed to promoting public awareness of and concern about crime and to propagate the concept of self-help in crime prevention.

The Council comprises representatives from the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as from the public sector and the Singapore Police Force (SPF). CPAs help to share and promote crime prevention messages to your peers and also the wider community.

Come and join Mr Choo as a CPA or as a Home Team Volunteer for a good cause today!

Find out more on how you can make a difference in your community and how other MHA volunteers are helping to keep their neighbourhoods safe.

Categories
Lifestyle

Five fun facts about Total Defence Day

From the origins of this annual commemoration to why it’s even more relevant in present times, amid a pandemic. Here are some key points about Total Defence Day.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

February 15 is a special day for all Singaporeans — and not because it’s the day after Valentine’s.

This significant date is when the country marks Total Defence Day, and annual commemoration that serves to remind us that every Singaporean has a part to play in defending the nation against threats, both military and non-military.

While you might have heard the Public Warning System signal sounding throughout the island at 6.20pm sharp every year on this date, how much do you really know about Total Defence Day?

Read on to find out more about its role in nation-building, and how it continues to bring Singaporeans together.

1. AN IDEA ADAPTED TO SINGAPORE

Spectators watching the mobile column that was a part of the 2020 National Day celebrations. A strong military supported by the wider community has been a key tenet of the Military Defence pillar.

The very first Total Defence Day was observed on Feb 15, 1984. The date was chosen as it was the day that Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942. It serves as a reminder that Singaporeans must be united and prepared to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again.

While the chosen date is uniquely Singaporean, the concept of Total Defence Day was actually adapted from Sweden and Switzerland, according to the Ministry of Defence. Dating back to the time of the Cold War, Sweden’s Total Defence strategy was meant to ensure that the country could defend itself unaided, with every citizen allocated a role to play. Today, in light of international terrorist threats and ongoing regional challenges, Sweden has revitalised its Total Defence programme, to emphasise resilience in its non-military sectors and citizens. Similarly, after the September 11 attacks in the United States, Singapore’s own Total Defence was adapted to address the threat of terrorism, as well as other non-military crises such as natural disasters, pandemics and economic recessions

Switzerland carries out a nation-wide Security Network Exercise every four years to assess its own readiness. Like Singapore, Switzerland is a small country with limited resources that has to be self-reliant in matters of defence. Its aim for Total Defence is to ensure the whole of society – including educators, the media and food suppliers – can work together to secure the nation’s security objectives.

2. DEFENDING THE DIGITAL REALM

Safe-distancing measures were put in place throughout Singapore in the wake of COVID-19. The spreading of online falsehoods during the pandemic highlighted the importance of Digital Defence.

The original five pillars of Total Defence are Military Defence, Civil Defence, Economic Defence, Social Defence and Psychological Defence. 34 years later, the sixth pillar of Digital Defence was added to address new and growing challenges online such as malware, cyberattacks, fake news and disinformation campaigns.

As part of Digital Defence, Singaporeans are asked to be secure, alert and responsible online. This means practising good cybersecurity habits, being able identify fake news and instilling digital literacy in themselves and their community.

This was a timely addition, as the COVID-19 pandemic saw falsehoods and rumours spreading online and sparking panic buying, among other concerning behaviours. In fact, it was estimated that six in 10 people had received false information about COVID-19 online in the first few months of the pandemic alone. Digital Defence-related initiatives such as Tech Connect and the National Library Board’s S.U.R.E. work to help Singaporeans become more digitally-savvy and discerning.

3. ADAPTING TO CHANGING TIMES

Trade has long been one of the cornerstones of Singapore's economy. Economic Defence – the creation of a resilient, globally competitive economy – is in turn a key pillar of Total Defence.

The first five pillars of Total Defence correspond to the five arrows in the very first hand-shaped logo, which was the winner of a Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) competition in 1985, paired with the tagline “There’s a part for everyone”.

The addition of Digital Defence, however, necessitated a change of logo. In 2020, a revamp was announced. The updated version features six arrows pointing upwards to signify Singaporeans working together towards the common goal of protecting the nation, along with the crescent moon and stars from the Singapore flag. This time, the logo was chosen by the Singaporean public, with more than 30,000 people voting for their desired version. And in keeping with the logo, the new tagline is “Together we keep Singapore strong”.

4. EDUCATING AND EMPOWERING

Some might think that Civil Defence is similar to Military Defence, as both focus on protecting the country and Singaporeans. But while Military Defence involves deterring aggression from external sources, Civil Defence is not just about keeping the community safe. It also involves educating the public in rescue work, evacuation, first aid and damage control, so that everyone is empowered to help one another when in need. This allows our soldiers to fight without worrying unduly about their loved ones.

To do this, the SCDF carries out activities in schools, as well as sounding the ‘Important Message’ signal of the Public Warning System. This helps educate the public on the system’s different signals and what they mean. These Total Defence Day school activities include a Civil Defence Lionhearters Challenge, which sees students competing to show their proficiencies in fire safety, basic first aid and even rescue scenarios.

5. THE COVID-19 TEST

The COVID-19 pandemic was a true test of Singapore’s commitment to Total Defence. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen compared the COVID-19 virus to a war. He pointed out that it too disrupted almost all normal activities and threatened lives and livelihoods.

Since the pandemic’s outbreak, the Total Defence approach has served Singapore well. It prevented the healthcare system from being overwhelmed and has kept the death rate low thus far. The SCDF ferried COVID-19 patients to hospitals and retired healthcare professionals came back to help. The Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Economic Development Board ensured supply chains were unbroken and vaccines were secured while members of the public volunteered to assist foreign workers quarantining in dormitories.

Despite the uncertainty of the last two years, Singaporeans have rallied – and with our shared commitment to Total Defence, we will continue to keep Singapore strong, together.

DO YOUR PART FOR TOTAL DEFENCE

This year’s Total Defence theme is ‘Together We Keep Singapore Strong’ – but what can you do to practice Total Defence in the days leading up to February 15th?

For parents and educators, there are activity sheets for children of all ages, from preschoolers to secondary school students. You can download the activity sheets and the Educator’s Guide in order to explore the six pillars of Total Defence alongside your little ones.

To make a difference, contribute your ideas to the Total Defence Sandbox, which is welcoming initiatives to help educate Singaporean youth on the hybrid threats – such as fake news and cyberattacks – that have emerged in our complex world.

And if you’d like to try your hand at seeing how your choices and actions can affect the nation as a whole, check out the Total Defence Interactive Video – a first of its kind game that allows you to ‘choose your own adventure’ in how you approach Singapore’s defence.

Categories
Lifestyle

Great movies for Valentine’s Day

Set the tone with one of these titles and have a memorable Valentine’s Day with the people who the matter most to you.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

Chocolates, flowers and romance are all good, but Valentine’s Day doesn’t necessarily have to be just for couples. It’s also a chance to spend time with the people who matter the most to you, like family and the friends who’ve stuck by you through thick and thin.

Whatever the bond, what’s most important for a Valentine’s Day outing is time well-spent together. Watching a movie may seem dated, but sometimes old-school cool still works best.

Whether you plan to watch a romantic film with your significant other or something the gang or family can enjoy, here are some flicks that are worth adding to your watchlist.

AT THE CINEMA

Marry Me*

This one hits home for those of us heavily into celebrities and social media. Kat Valdez, played by Jennifer Lopez, is a reigning Latin pop star who learns via a social media post that her soon-to-be fiance is cheating on her. As she stands on her concert stage having just discovered this news, she spontaneously decides to marry a stranger holding a “Marry Me” sign….

Death on the Nile*

A murder mystery may seem like an odd choice for Valentine’s Day viewing, but this has plenty to offer the family. With its thrills and whodunnit premise, this Agatha Christie classic set on a luxury boat is a panacea for those missing their holidays abroad. Witness Kenneth Branagh direct and play Hercule Poirot – the famous detective – as he investigates a star-studded ensemble that includes screen goddess Gal Gadot.

My Best Friend’s Breakfast*

Can love really be found through another’s stomach – even if it was meant for someone else? A high school boy sends his crush breakfast every day, but the disinterested girl lets her best friend have it instead. This seemingly trivial act leads to misunderstandings, and eventually goes in a way none of these teenagers expect. Based on a true story that unravelled on social media, this heartwarming tale is burgeoning with whimsy and sweet nothings.

*If you’re heading to catch these releases at the theatres, HomeTeamNS members can enjoy 1-for-1 movie treats for screenings at Cathay Cineplexes. Share some love with your movie mate with a special F&B combo of a 22oz drink and medium-sized popcorn at just S$5 (U.P. S$9.50). This offer is available everyday – just present your membership card details at the counters.

ONLINE, AT HOME

If you’d rather chill at home, these streaming options should offer something for everyone.

Valentine’s Day

The title might make it an obvious choice, but the vignettes in this movie are truly a joy to watch for any kind of viewer. There are multiple arcs here that showcase the myriad types of relationships, and the light and easy writing makes this a fuzzy feel-good entry.

Date Night

The mix of mistaken identity and fish-out-of-water events promises plenty of comedic fodder. Throw in the comedic geniuses that are Tina Fey and Steve Carell and you’ve got yourself 90 minutes of enjoyable entertainment, shuttling furiously between slapstick and witty humour.  

Somewhere in Time

This is a timeless classic in more ways than one. The late Christopher Reeve plays the role of a writer strangely drawn to and besotted with a woman from the past. After ridding himself of all things modern, he attempts self-hypnosis to travel back in time – and succeeds. His love for the actress is in full bloom when the unthinkable happens. This one’s for the romantic diehards.

Moulin Rouge

The movie that spawned the classic song Come What May, visionary director Baz Luhrmann infuses genres into a kaleidoscopic spectacle of a love story. Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in their first singing roles, the beautiful tragedy unfolds as an entertaining, vibrant and moving tale between courtesan and poet.

Warm Bodies

This is Edward Scissorshands for the modern age. In a world infested with zombies, one suddenly finds himself a little more “alive” after meeting a human girl. What ensues is a quirky romantic comedy that seems flippant at first but is actually rich with lovely meaning and the magic of love.

HomeTeamNS members can also enjoy exclusive screenings on selected Fridays to catch blockbusters like Spiderman: No Way Home.

An avid movie buff but yet to go for a movie screening with HomeTeamNS? Keep your eyes peeled for the next invitation or make use of your HomeTeamNS 1-for-1 movie perk and catch the latest release in the theatre anytime!

Here are some other great ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone.