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Quick escapes: The best destinations three hours or less from Singapore

Our prime location in the heart of Southeast Asia opens the door to a variety of affordable, easy-to-plan vacations right at Singapore’s doorstep.

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

As March heralds the arrival of school holidays and the much-anticipated Good Friday long weekend, it’s the perfect time to plan a getaway.

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore is a hop, skip and a jump from its neighbours, making it easy (and relatively inexpensive) to enjoy an impromptu change of scenery. Less than a three-hour plane ride away, myriad enchanting destinations await, promising everything from blissful beaches to rich cultural experiences.

Here are some of the best nearby locales for a rejuvenating break from the urban hustle.

EAT YOUR WAY ACROSS PENANG, MALAYSIA

An hour and a half from Singapore by plane, Penang is a culinary haven awaiting exploration. Begin your journey at Kimberley Street, a foodie stretch bustling with stalls serving delectable treats from fried carrot cake to piping-hot lor mee (braised noodles in a thick, starchy gravy).

One of the must-tries when you visit Penang’s Kimberley Street is the fried carrot cake.

Don’t miss one of Penang’s best char kway teow on Carnarvon Street off Chulia Street, where a friendly uncle whips up this savoury noodle dish with flair. Nearby at Campbell Street, you’ll find an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary eateries. Savour artisanal delights at Bagel’s Dream and ice cream parlour Hema Hema, or try Tok Tok Bamboo Noodle’s delicious shrimp roe variant for something more old-school.

From there, head to the end of the row of shophouses and turn right. You’ll see a line snaking into a lane where Line Clear Nasi Kandar – known for its comforting curries and rendang – is located. Cap off your gastronomic adventures with cakes and croissants at the new JT Patisserie, founded by an apprentice of celebrated French pastry chef Cedric Grolet.

Penang also offers enchanting possibilities for families, with attractions such as the serene Penang Hill and The Habitat, the educational Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm, as well as the fun-filled Escape Penang waterpark, that features the world’s longest water slide tube spanning 1,111m!

The Habitat at Penang Hill is a haven for nature lovers.

Stay in the heart of Georgetown at The George Penang for an elegant colonial experience, or opt for the more budget-friendly Loop on Leith. For a taste of local heritage, consider the traditional mansions of The Edison or Cheong Fatt Sze. Beach lovers can head to Hard Rock Hotel Penang at Batu Ferringhi, which offers stunning views along with special discounts of 15% off for HomeTeamNS members (till 30 Nov 2024).

BASK IN THE RELAXING VIBES OF LOMBOK, INDONESIA

A year-round surf destination, Lombok offers a good selection of surf spots for all levels of experience.

Three hours from Singapore by plane is Lombok, a serene alternative to buzzing Bali that offers an equally stunning tropical beach experience – but with fewer crowds. At the tranquil Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp tucked away in a nature reserve, A-shaped villas offer an elevated rustic getaway, with breathtaking views of the ocean and cliffs.

For modern luxury, Innit and Somewhere cater to different tastes: The former sits on the private island of Ekas Bay, and boasts sleek and understated interiors, while the latter is popular with surfers thanks to its proximity to beaches with world-class waves. Both offer private pools and local experiences, such as farm-to-table dining and a showcase of local crafts.

Families will find a perfect match in Novotel Lombok, with its slew of kid-friendly amenities, including play areas and menus – plus an outdoor pool and spa for the adults to unwind. A bonus: Stays are free for two children under the age of 16.

Beyond resort life, adventure seekers can explore the wonders of Mount Rinjani, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the Gili Islands, or learn to surf at one of the three schools at Selong Belanak Beach.

The beautifully clear waters and rich marine life of the Gili Islands make it one of the most rewarding snorkelling experiences.

DIVE INTO THE CULTURAL CHARMS OF HOI AN, VIETNAM

A short drive from the coastal city of Danang is Hoi An, a charming township brimming with colour and culture. This quaint destination offers a seamless blend of ancient and modern architecture within its old quarter, creating an Insta-worthy setting for visitors.

A highlight of Hoi An is the wooden boat rides along the river at sunset. For around $5, you can drift down the river and admire the vibrant lanterns floating on the water. Add to the magic by releasing your own lantern – symbolising wishes for health and luck – for an additional $1. Prices vary among the boat vendors for a 30-minute ride, so ask around before taking your pick.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Hoi An’s Ancient Town surrounded by shimmering lantern lights.

Hoi An’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ancient Town showcases a diverse array of architecture – from Chinese shophouses and French colonial buildings, to narrow Vietnamese tube houses and a Japanese bridge. As you explore the area, sample local delights like mot, a refreshing herbal drink, and cao lau, a native noodle dish made from local well waters.

If you need a break from pavement-pounding, visit Reaching Out Teahouse and support a good cause at the same time. This quiet haven is a social enterprise that hires individuals with hearing or speech disabilities. Choose from a selection of handmade snacks and teas, and use the signs on the table to communicate with the staff. Another must-try local experience is the traditional basket boat rides through the river coconut forest. Hop into the bowl-shaped craft and hang on for that thrilling “spinning cup” moment.

A local boatman giving a lively demonstration of spinning in his round basket boat.

Stay at Laluna Hoi An Riverside Hotel or Anantara Hoi An Resort for easy access to nearby attractions, or choose Zest Villas & Spa Hoi An for a novelty stay in a floating boat room.

GET SOME VITAMIN SEA AT PHUKET, THAILAND

Phuket continues to captivate travellers with its stunning coastline. From the lively Patong beach to the serene Kata and Karon beaches as well as hidden gems at Freedom, Nai Harn and Mai Khao, there’s a perfect spot for every kind of seaside sojourn.

The picturesque Phuket Old Town is both a night market and a cultural attraction for visitors.

Venture beyond the sands to Old Phuket Town, a culinary hotspot with several Michelin-recognised eateries in the area. While there, explore the expanded weekend night market – Phangnga Road was added in November last year – that boasts a rich assortment of local crafts, art and delicious bites.

Accommodation-wise, Phuket has a great range of hotels to suit every preference. Club Med has an all-inclusive package for those who want a hassle-free holiday, while Ozo Phuket (just 150m from Kata Beach) is ideal for families with its variety of rooms and play pools. For a luxurious couple’s retreat, you won’t go wrong with The Slate, a sprawling resort with Naiyang Beach at its doorstep. Located on the quiet end of Patong, Andaman Beach Hotel Phuket lets you stay close to the action without compromising on peace and tranquillity.

Kata Beach is a popular and quieter alternative to Patong Beach.

HomeTeamNS members can enjoy special deals at M Social Phuket in the heart of Patong, with room rates at THB 3,500 nett per night (book before 14 Mar 2024). Over at Kata Beach, The Boathouse Phuket is offering 10% off its Best Flexible Rate, including daily breakfast (till 20 Dec 2024).

MAXIMISE YOUR TRAVELS WITH HOMETEAMNS

HomeTeamNS members can travel smarter with perks such as a free one-year Singlife travel insurance, ideal for any trip length – with the option to upgrade their coverage later.

Take advantage of exclusive deals with partner hotels at other popular Southeast Asian destinations. Current offerings include 15% off room rates at The Residence Bintan (till 30 Apr 2024), as well as 25% off Best Flexible Rate at Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya with a minimum two-night stay (till 31 Dec 2024). Glamping enthusiasts will enjoy Anmon Resort Bintan, with its 15% discount on room rates (till 31 Sep 2024).

Members can also get up to 50% off Best Available Room Rates at Montigo Resorts, which is part of the exclusive perks in commemoration of Home Team Day.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

Categories
Club Buzz

Celebrate the inaugural Home Team Day with these exclusive privileges

Don’t miss these highlights commemorating the Home Team’s contributions to Singapore’s safety and security in the past, present and future.

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

TEXT: MELODY TAN

When Home Team officers are called upon, they respond with unwavering commitment, working tirelessly round the clock to keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe and secure.

Spanning 10 Home Team departments and the Ministry of Home Affairs headquarter, these dedicated personnel spare no effort in ensuring the safety of Singaporeans – whether they are stationed on the ground or behind a desk.

The inaugural Home Team Day on 24 Feb 2024 is a recognition and celebration of their efforts and sacrifices, as well as the close cooperation among the agencies that make up a united Home Team. This date holds special significance as it marks the inception of the Home Team concept over 20 years ago in 1997.

To commemorate the occasion, here are some perks and benefits offered by HomeTeamNS tenants and partners exclusively for our Home Team Officers and National Servicemen.

FREE HOMETEAMNS MEMBERSHIP AND EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAYS

There’s never been a more opportune time to join the ranks, with a complimentary one-year Ordinary or Associate membership offer for eligible Home Team Officers, National Servicemen and those serving in the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) and Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU). Registration for the complimentary membership for new members starts from mid-March 2024. Existing members will have their memberships automatically extended to 31 Mar 2025.

For a limited time till 31 Mar 2024, HomeTeamNS is extending this benefit to family members as well. HomeTeamNS Ordinary and Associate Members can also sign their spouse, children and parents up for a free one-year family membership, so that they can enjoy similar access to over 100 year-round deals and promotions available exclusively to HomeTeamNS members. These include one-for-one tickets at Cathay Cineplexes, fuel savings at Sinopec, shopping discounts at SHEIN, and more.

Plus, don’t miss out on an exciting Singapore Airlines ticket giveaway. HomeTeamNS members stand a chance to win a pair of return air tickets to Perth via the HomeTeamNS mobile app. Increase your odds by enrolling your family members for free between now and 23 Mar 2024. Each new member earns an additional chance in the draw.

AN ARRAY OF PRIVILEGES BEYOND THE CLUBHOUSES

Home Team Day is a nation-wide celebration that offers over 60 exclusive promotions at HomeTeamNS facilities and participating merchant partners islandwide, ranging from F&B, lifestyle and entertainment, shopping and travel.

Here are some exciting perks you can redeem via promo codes issued on the HomeTeamNS app or by flashing your HomeTeamNS digital membership card:

  • $2 off every $55 of gross fuel purchase at Sinopec (up to 3.6% additional discount), on top of the existing HomeTeamNS promotion of up to 24% off
  • 20% off a la carte items at Peach Garden
  • $138 for a 1-for-1 Spa Treat at Atos Wellness
  • 43% off selected home electronics and appliances from Philips
  • Up to 50% off selected retail items at Sheng Siong islandwide
  • 2 Taro Pie for $2.40, 24% off Double Mushroom Swiss Meal or Mushroom Swiss Tendergrill Chicken Value Meal at Burger King islandwide (except Airport stores)
  • 24% off two 90-minute tour tickets for a rigid hull inflatable boat with RHIB Singapore

These exclusive Home Team Day privileges complement the 100+ existing HomeTeamNS partner promotions, which include well-known brands like Hard Rock Café Singapore, Thomson Medical, Zalora, Frasers Hospitality, Kinderland International Education, and more. 

SPECIAL RATES ON CLUBHOUSE FACILITIES

Revel in playtime at half-price across all HomeTeamNS clubhouses’ recreational facilities, including T-Play, Adventure HQ, Action Motion, Aqua Adventure, and more.

Enjoy TactSim at HomeTeamNS Khatib at 50% off. Grab this exclusive offer when you make a booking between 24 and 26 Feb 2024.

For a limited time period between 24 to 26 Feb 2024, grab your tickets for a future visit to these facilities at a whopping 50% discount (subject to slot availability). Booking can be done via the Home Team Day website. Fitness enthusiasts will be pleased to note that this discount extends to the Fitness Workz Single Entry Pass, allowing you to sweat it out without burdening your wallet.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or planning a fun-filled hangout session with friends, be sure to check out the discounted rates for facilities at all HomeTeamNS clubhouses. Enjoy ballroom discounts ranging from 10% to 20% at HomeTeamNS Khatib, Bedok Reservoir and Balestier, or 20% off Mancave bookings at HomeTeamNS Khatib and Bedok Reservoir. Bonus: These promotional rates are stackable on top of current HomeTeamNS members’ rates.

Enjoy 20% Mancave bookings at HomeTeamNS Khatib and Bedok Reservoir, furbished with a Pandora Game Console, KTV System, Outdoor BBQ Patio with Electric Grill and more!

Hurry and book your slots as promotions are only valid for a limited time!  

For a comprehensive list of Home Team Day’s privileges and perks for HomeTeamNS members, visit www.hometeamns.sg/htd2024.

Here’s to a joyful Home Team Day, in recognition of our Home Team’s hard work throughout the year!

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

Categories
Shape Up

Here’s why passing your IPPT might be easier than you think

SUPT (NS) Terence Choo says the “secret” to passing the fitness test lies in shifting your mindset and routine.

PHOTOS: TERENCE CHOO

TEXT: ALYWIN CHEW

As the Chairman of The REAL® Run committee, SUPT (NS) Terence Choo has witnessed the transformative power of fitness. In 2017, he embarked on a personal project, compiling a collection of IPPT training tips that could benefit his fellow NSmen. Titled IPPT Ready, the online book was recently updated with additional tips that specifically help servicemen improve their performance in the three IPPT stations. Terence, who is a longstanding HomeTeamNS volunteer, shares with us more about the book — and his views on why passing IPPT is much less difficult than you may think.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO DEVELOP THIS ONLINE RESOURCE?

I wasn’t always as fit as I am today. In fact, I failed my first IPPT attempt in 2014! But I’ve since discovered the “secret” to passing the IPPT, and I wanted to share this with my fellow NSmen, through a dedicated IPPT resource website, which doesn’t quite exist anywhere else today. 

This one-stop guide is meant to help motivate NSmen and cultivate a more positive attitude towards IPPT. It’s also aimed at helping them train safely, effectively, and efficiently with three different levels — those who are restarting exercise, those who borderline pass or fail their IPPT, and those aiming for Silver and beyond. I have also included a special chapter for leaders and commanders on fitness motivation and the D.A.R.E. framework.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THIS PERSONAL PROJECT OF YOURS?

The real challenge is not about addressing the fitness ability or knowledge of NSmen. Rather, they need to nurture their willingness to embrace health and fitness by discovering their personal meaning in pursuing better health and fitness. Once they uncover that meaningful purpose (which could be a professional or personal goal) that fuels their desire for strength and fitness, that will become the foundation for lasting transformation.

SO, WHAT IS THIS “SECRET” TO PASSING THE IPPT?

The secret is to be consistent, keep it simple, and have the right attitude towards fitness. A friend of mine who is 50, scored full marks on the push-up test. He doesn’t go to the gym regularly or train for long hours. All he did was incorporate a push-up routine into his daily life for the last 7 years. All he needed was a few minutes before showering or right after waking up. You may view the IPPT as an event that you need to train for and clear once a year. But I encourage you to see it from another perspective. Don’t train for the IPPT. Train for yourself. Make exercise an intrinsic part of your daily life.

HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO PEOPLE WHO ARGUE THAT THEY ARE TOO BUSY TO EXERCISE EVERY DAY?

Life in Singapore can be pretty hectic, but there is no reason why we cannot spare a few minutes every day to exercise. Find a routine that you have to do daily, for example, showering. Incorporate one set of squats or push-ups into your pre-showering routine. After a few weeks, and before you know it, it has become a routine that you’ll do naturally without thinking. One set of push-ups might even slowly turn into three or four sets. You can also look at this as a good way to energize yourself and feel good after a long day. I know this sounds rather unbelievable, but we only need a few minutes of exercise daily to pass the IPPT. 

Check out my online book for workout ideas that could help you enjoy working out even more. 

A FEW MINUTES? IS THAT REALLY ENOUGH TO GO FROM FAIL TO PASS?

Yes! Close to 25% of our NSmen just missed the passing mark by a few points. By investing a few minutes a day to do a few sets of push-ups or sit-ups or completing a short run helps to gradually improve your fitness over time. The key here is maintaining consistency and gradually increasing the intensity of the workout as you go along so that you improve and reach the required level to pass.

WHAT IF I’M SOMEONE WHO IS COMPLETELY OUT OF SHAPE AND CANNOT EVEN PERFORM A HANDFUL OF PUSH-UPS?

10 years ago, I could not do a single push-up. Consistency and patience led me to where I am now. You need to start with what you can do. Start with 8 to 12 repetitions of the variation that challenges you slightly. Do it daily, and as you get stronger, you can go for more repetitions or variations that are more challenging. Before long, you’ll be able to pass. Results are the fuel for greater action.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK THE MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE?

I would ask such individuals: Would improved fitness make your life more difficult or better? We all know the benefits of working out regularly far outweigh the drawbacks. Firstly, it is far more logical and productive to exercise just a few minutes every day than having to carve out time to attend hours of remedial training (NS FIT), which can be very disruptive. Secondly, it’s no secret that being fit and healthy comes with a host of benefits. You’ll look better. You’ll feel more energetic and healthier. Most importantly, it can also help you to reach your personal and professional goals!

WOULDN’T EXERCISING EVERY DAY BE DETRIMENTAL TO HEALTH? SHOULDN’T I HAVE REST DAYS?

It all depends on the intensity of your workout. After an intense workout, you can opt for passive recovery the following day, either with a massage or simply resting the muscle you trained. Alternatively, you can also do active recovery — light workouts that are a fraction of the normal intensity. Personally, I like to do active recovery, and that is to exercise daily. When I need more time to recover, I will do a light workout instead of an intense one.

SHOULD I ENGAGE A PERSONAL TRAINER AT A FITNESS WORKZ GYM TO HELP ME TRAIN FOR MY IPPT?

A personal trainer can give you  more targeted advice and help you to train safely by imparting good exercise techniques. You can also discover more about yourself by asking questions, which  can help you make the breakthroughs you want. You can speak with the staff at the Fitness Workz gym to find out what the personal training experience is like.

SUPT (NS) Terence Choo’s “magic ingredient” for improving IPPT scores

“Beetroot can help improve muscular endurance and help you do better, especially in the 2.4km run. A lot of research has backed this claim, and it has helped me personally. The nitrates in beetroot help reduce oxygen costs during exercise, and when you reduce the amount of oxygen you need, you can run at a fast pace for longer before getting tired. I usually start taking beetroot supplements about three days before the test. However, check with your healthcare provider if the supplements are suitable for you before getting started on them.”

Interested in serving beyond your obligations? Consider the Volunteer Extension Scheme, which allows PNSMen who have completed their NS liability to continue serving beyond their statutory age. PNSMen (With NS liability) who have passed their statutory age of 40 years (Junior Officers) & 50 years (Senior Officers) may apply.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

Categories
Spotlight Travel

How to prioritise your well-being and reimagine your leadership style with solo travel

Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS, reflects on her passion for solo travel and how it has shaped her leadership style.

PHOTOS: AGNES EU

TEXT: AGNES EU

“I would describe solo travel as liberating. You make decisions on your own, sometimes spontaneously, and deal with whatever comes next — even if it’s something bad, like a missed train. Being alone gives you the space to reflect and observe. During a trip to Kyoto, Japan, I noticed how softly people spoke on public transport, out of consideration for others. It made me a lot more conscious of my own tone and volume; something that I continue to be mindful of even today.

As a leader, I value these quiet pockets of time for inspiration and introspection. They’re hard to come by, which is what drew me to solo travel in the first place. I embarked on my first trip around five years ago, shortly after I turned 50. I remember thinking that my whole life until then had revolved around others, in my roles as a daughter, wife, mother, and manager. ‘What am I doing for myself?’ I wondered. At that time, solo travel was all the rage on social media and I decided to give it a try. Of course, I still enjoy family vacations, but these solo journeys are now also a must for me.

Solo travel has influenced my leadership style. Not knowing things and making mistakes are a part of life, and travelling on your own can remind you of this. You gain humility.

Picking a destination for my first solo trip was tricky. Friends encouraged me to challenge myself, perhaps by visiting a place where English is not widely spoken. I also wanted to feed my natural curiosity about the world by going off the beaten track, albeit in countries that I had already visited. Eventually, I settled on Japan, which I’ve since repeatedly explored as a solo traveller, discovering new areas and landscapes each time.

AN EXERCISE IN PERSONAL GROWTH

I always challenge myself to try something different, like a driving holiday or not purchasing mobile data. The lack of a Wi-Fi connection can be challenging, especially when you’re so used to posting on social media. I’m a shutterbug, and not being able to share my vacation photos wasn’t easy. But I resisted the temptation and was thus more ‘present’ during the holiday. I’m glad I did it; I took some photos that I’m very proud of and will probably share them with my friends and family soon.

Of course, there can be moments of frustration while travelling solo. Once, I was lost in Japan and getting quite desperate because I couldn’t speak the language or read the street signs. Naturally, hailing a taxi — which was the easy way out — popped into my mind. But I had told myself at the start of the trip that taxis were a no-no. Somehow, I persevered and found my way around. It reminded me of my own resilience. Such experiences also teach you to accept that things will not always pan out the way you want, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying to make the best of the situation.

Planning these trips is a breeze with online resources. But I’ve learnt over the years that you can over plan and miss out on spontaneous experiences. It’s a new concept to me since I’m usually very particular about planning. Gradually, I’ve learnt to let go. I now plan about 80 per cent of a trip and leave the rest to chance. I think that approach is also useful at work, where we deal with curveballs at times. The recent pandemic comes to mind; even our best-laid plans had to change as the situation evolved.

Now that I’ve completed three trips in Japan, I’m looking westward, specifically to parts of Central Europe. I’m still working out my plans but I hope to embark on this adventure later this year. During the next trip, I might engage in a newfound passion. I’ve recently taken up art and might spend some time drawing and painting in another country.”

WHAT THE LUNAR NEW YEAR LOOKS LIKE TO ME

With the Year of the Dragon fast approaching, Ms Agnes Eu shares the traditions and memories that make the festive season extra special for her.

My most memorable Lunar New Year: I think many can relate to this — the first time I had to give ang pao (red packets)!

My most cherished Lunar New Year tradition: Family time. I’m the one who coordinates the gathering among all my immediate and extended family. The Lunar New Year just wouldn’t be the same without that big gathering.

My Lunar New Year wish: It’s the same every year: a happier one for all and peace everywhere. And as always, we hope to widen and deepen our engagement with the HomeTeamNS community.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the App Settings.

Categories
Singapore Buzz

Empowering every Singaporean to contribute to Total Defence

It’s not just our heroic frontliners who keep our nation safe. Every one of us has a role to play in safeguarding our future – and together, we can remain united and strong.

PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE, MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS, SHUTTERSTOCK

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG 

Amid the sweetness of Valentine’s Day celebrations, Singaporeans are reminded of a more solemn occasion – Total Defence Day, observed annually on 15 Feb. This date marks a pivotal moment in our nation’s history: When the British surrendered Singapore to Japan in 1942 during World War II.

As we mark the 40th anniversary of Total Defence this year (TD40), we honour the indomitable spirit of our forefathers, whose resilience shaped our nation and paved the way for the peace and security we cherish today.

Our national safety rests on five key pillars of Total Defence: Military defence, economic defence, social defence, psychological defence and digital defence – each vital in its own right. But Total Defence isn’t just the responsibility of members of the Home Team or Singapore Armed Forces. There’s also a critical, but often overlooked, aspect: Civil defence, which focuses on empowering civilians with a state of preparedness, enabling us to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones during a crisis.

In the spirit of unity, every Singaporean has a role to play in strengthening our nation’s Total Defence. From being vigilant against misinformation to actively supporting our community and helping the vulnerable, here’s how you can contribute to our collective security.

EMPOWER YOURSELF, EMPOWER SINGAPORE

Your personal preparedness is a cornerstone of our national resilience. In an emergency, such as a fire, do you know the steps to take? Can you recognise the different public sirens and their meaning, and do you know where the nearest shelters are located?

Understanding these details is not just to ensure personal safety, but also about being a responsible citizen equipped to aid yourself and others in times of need. Start familiarising yourself with these critical aspects of safety by reading up on resource packs and exploring the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) website.

You can also join free Civil Defence exercises to pick up life-saving techniques – such as first aid, CPR-AED or fire-fighting skills – at your nearest SCDF headquarters or community centres or take a self-directed e-learning course.

Responders Plus Programme, SCDF’s emergency preparedness training initiative, equips the public with essential life-saving skills.

BE A VITAL PART OF THE COMMUNITY

Bolster the public safety net by becoming a myResponder. As a crucial member of your community’s first-response team, you’ll be trained to handle situations such as minor fires or cardiac arrests. This role empowers you to make a difference during emergencies and potentially save lives.

If enhancing community security aligns more with your interests, consider participating in the Home Team Volunteer Scheme. This initiative offers a unique opportunity to join police patrols around your neighbourhood or become a Crime Prevention Ambassador (CPA).

Volunteers under the CPA programme help to promote public awareness of crime prevention in the community.

Beyond these roles, building a close-knit community also means caring for your neighbours. Such camaraderie not only promotes a sense of belonging, but also positions you to identify and assist in situations of abuse, domestic violence, depression or other illegal activities. By keeping an eye out and lending a hand when needed, you’re helping to build a safer, more supportive community.

SAFEGUARD AGAINST MISINFORMATION AND SCAMS

In today’s fast-paced digital world, misinformation can spread like wildfire, making your role in discerning and halting their progress more important than ever.

Before sharing any news – especially those that seem sensational – pause and verify sources. A simple online search can often reveal the truth behind a story. Your diligence in this regard is key – unverified news may lead to unnecessary panic, disrupt plans or cause unnecessary dissent.

Equally important is protecting our seniors from the growing menace of scams. Take the time to educate and engage in conversations with seniors around you and listen out for any mentions of unusual transactions or encounters to protect them from being exploited.

Putting digital defence into action means adopting good cybersecurity habits to protect your personal data and staying vigilant against online threats.

Lastly, embrace your role as a vigilant member of society. Be the eyes and ears on the ground and report any suspicious activities or individuals to the authorities. For those looking to further contribute to our national security, you can join SGSecure to boost our collective safety and help foster a more united community.

HOW TO TAKE PART IN THE TD40 CELEBRATIONS

2024 marks a special year with the 40th anniversary of Total Defence, and you’re invited to experience it first-hand.

Gear up for a series of simulated exercises designed to enhance your awareness and preparedness. These are part of the inaugural Exercise SG Ready initiative, happening from 15 to 29 Feb 2024. Find your nearest venue to join any of the exercises.

Also, mark your calendars for the Civil Defence (CD) MRT Shelter Open Houses on 23 Feb 2024. The SCDF, in collaboration with the Land Transport Authority, will be hosting visits to Dakota (CC8), Potong Pasir (NE10) and Tan Kah Kee (DT8) MRT Stations from 10am to 4pm. The open houses will demonstrate how MRT stations can be transformed into public shelters to protect civilians during emergency situations.

For more information, visit Total Defence Resources.

Interested in serving beyond your obligations? Consider the Volunteer Extension Scheme, which allows PNSMen who have completed their NS liability to continue serving beyond their statutory age. PNSMen (With NS liability) who have passed their statutory age of 40 years (Junior Officers) & 50 years (Senior Officers) may apply.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

Categories
Shape Up

7 Fun Ways You Can Keep Fit And Healthy This Lunar New Year

Make time amid your busy visiting schedule to enjoy activities such as bowling and laser tag with your family.

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS; NATIONAL PARKS BOARD; FLICKR USER NOVA;

TEXT: BEATRICE BOWERS

According to CNA, most people consume 39% more calories than usual during festive seasons, and nearly 45% of them gain an average of 1.7kg during the Lunar New Year. While indulging in food is done in the spirit of the season, it’s still important to look after your health and fitness, especially if you’ve got a busy schedule visiting relatives and going to parties.

Here are seven things to do — both indoor and outdoor — to help you stay fit despite consuming copious amounts of pineapple tarts, including family-friendly activities to maximise your bonding time.

1. Head to the bowling rink

Burn calories and work out your muscles while having fun with your loved ones at the bowling alley. We’d recommend knocking down those pins at SuperBowl located at HomeTeamNS Khatib or StarBowl at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok (open daily till midnight) — both of which will be open throughout the Lunar New Year. Public holiday rates start from $3.50 per game, so you can play to your heart’s content.

BONUS: HomeTeamNS members enjoy a 10% discount on games at SuperBowl (Khatib) and 15% discount on games at StarBowl (Bukit Batok).

2. Book a laser tag session

Laser tag, which combines the games of Hide-and-Seek and Tag, is an excellent way to get a solid cardio workout. Dodging laser beams, darting to hiding spots and rushing to ambush your opponents will quicken your heart rate and get your blood pumping. Book a game at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok’s Laser Quest — open throughout the Lunar New Year — which features atmospheric lighting and pulsating beats to keep your energy level high. This is also a great team-bonding activity to consider if you’re planning a Lunar New Year company event.

BONUS: HomeTeamNS members enjoy exclusive member rates at S$4.07 per game for Laser Quest.

3. Go on a hike

This festive period is a great time to escape the traffic and embark on an invigorating hike with the fam at one of the many parks and nature trails around Singapore. Head to the Southern Ridges, which comprises 10 km of green, open spaces that connect Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park, and Labrador Nature Reserve. Here, stroll through the architecturally-stunning Henderson Waves and spot wildlife such as the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Brahminy Kite.

4. Head to the gym

It’s easier said than done, but visiting the gym is already half the battle won. If you don’t have time to stick to your usual workout regime, don’t fret. Just make the most of your time by working up a sweat with brisk treadmill walks, a 20-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session, or peddling a stationary bike for 15 minutes at any of HomeTeamNS’ Fitness Workz gyms. We especially recommend the Fitness Workz Garage at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir, which boasts a state-of-the-art functional training zone equipped with a customised multi-functional octagon training frame rig featuring battle ropes, a punching bag, and a cross-core system.

BONUS: HomeTeamNS members enjoy special rates starting from $262.41 for a 12-month membership.

5. Organise a healthier potluck

Organising a healthy potluck for your reunion dinner is a delightful way to celebrate without compromising wellness. Encourage participants to embrace traditional flavors with a nutritious twist, opting for lean proteins, whole grains, and abundant veggies. Try these healthier recipes and encourage your guests to bake their own  goodies using almond flour or coconut sugar for less-guilty indulgences. 

6. End the day with yoga

Yoga promotes physical strength, flexibility, and balance while enhancing mental well-being through stress reduction and improved focus, contributing to overall holistic health. This will help you start the Year of the Dragon on the right foot. Squeeze in a 10 to 15minutes workout guided by YouTube tutorials from the comfort of your own home, or join an outdoor class by the Yoga for Peace and Balance group, which may include gentler movements to warm up, followed by more challenging standing poses, balances, inversions, and peak poses.

7. Go for a swim

Swimming provides a full-body workout that helps burn calories and improve cardiovascular health, which is especially important when you’ve been indulging in rich foods. Cool off from that relentless February heat at any of the HomeTeamNS clubhouse pools, including the 50m, six-lane infinity pool overlooking the reservoir at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir. Your little ones will love splashing about at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok’s kids’ pool, which features slides and installations inspired by Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) vehicles.

BONUS: HomeTeamNS Ordinary, Associate, Family, and Corporate Members get to enjoy free pool access.

How to stay healthy this Lunar New Year

1. Drink green tea

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, consuming ‘heaty’ food in excess,such as those eaten during the Lunar New Year,can cause symptoms such as fever, sore throat, mouth ulcers, acne, excessive thirst, redness of the skin, and irritability. Drink green tea, which is unfermented and rarely oxidised, and thus believed to have a cooling effect on the body — besides being rich in antioxidants.

2. Stretch after every meal

Once you’re done eating, get up, take a quick walk around the space, and stretch your muscles. Stretching after a heavy meal can aid digestion, alleviate discomfort, and promote relaxation, contributing to overall well-being and reducing the potential for post-meal sluggishness.

3. Eat before visiting

Don’t go visiting hungry, because you’ll tend to overeat. Instead, have a high-fiber, nutritious snack before going to see your loved ones, and you’re more likely to make better snacking choices.

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Singapore Buzz

7 ways you can celebrate the Lunar New Year more sustainably

Green is the new red. Enjoy the festivities and keep traditions alive while reducing your environmental impact with these tips.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

IMAGES: SWAPAHOLIC SINGAPORE; REPAIR KOPITIAM; SING SEE SOON; SHUTTERSTOCK; SINGAPORE FOOD AGENCY

During the Lunar New Year, it is common to observe auspicious customs such as exchanging mandarin oranges and red packets, as well as tossing yu sheng (raw fish salad). However, you’ll also want to be mindful of the environmental impact of these practices. According to Hong Kong-based environmental group Greeners Action, more than 16,300 trees are felled each year to produce some 320 million red packets. That alone may give us pause for thought on how we can evolve our customs to minimise waste.

The good news is, we can keep our Lunar New Year traditions alive while being kinder to the planet. Consider the following tips and kickstart the year of the Dragon on a sustainable note.

1.SHOP PRUDENTLY

Purchase a single household item or outfit as a symbol of new beginnings, rather than overhauling your home or wardrobe. It takes about 2,700 litres of water to produce a single cotton T-shirt, so you’ll want to minimise the waste from fast fashion. You can do so by picking long-lasting pieces over throwaway ones, or consider joining the circular fashion movement through thrift or swap shopping — which happens to be very much on trend. When shopping, opt for local businesses instead of international e-commerce platforms to reduce the carbon footprint from overseas delivery. Ladies can consider Beyond the Vines and Ong Shunmugam for contemporary pieces suitable for Lunar New Year outings, while the lads can look dapper in threads by Benjamin Barker and biro. For locally-made wooden furniture pieces, check out Roger&Sons.

2. DECORATE AND DECLUTTER WITHOUT BEING WASTEFUL

Consider what you can reuse or recycle when doing your spring cleaning. Too often, our throwaway culture means items don’t get the lifespan they deserve. When decluttering, see if the items can be repaired by experts such as Jia Xing or SG Home furniture — or learn how to do so yourself at one of Repair Kopitiam’s workshops. If you must give away items that are in good condition, pass them on to the needy through The Salvation Army or Cloop bins set up by a circular fashion enterprise.

When it comes to decorating, look at existing materials you can use to dress up the home. Repurpose a Christmas wreath into one for the Spring Festival, or create beautiful lanterns from last year’s red packets. If you really must purchase decorations, opt for biodegradable or natural materials over metal or plastic.

3. PURCHASE LONGER LASTING PLANTS

Instead of adorning your home with short-lived blooms such as the Hyacinthus or Narcissus, opt for hardier, lower-maintenance plants such as bamboo, chrysanthemums, and azaleas. Besides requiring little moisture and growing easily indoors, the resilient and auspicious money plant is adept at filtering out common indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene. When buying these plants, pick out those in permanent or compostable pots to reduce plastic waste. Join a free floral arrangement workshop by local florist Sing See Soon, which weaves sustainable lifestyle hacks into its classes.

4. CONSIDER PUBLIC TRANSPORT WHEN MAKING YOUR VISITING ROUNDS 

In Singapore, land transport accounts for about 15 per cent of carbon emissions. You can help lower this number by utilising our efficient network of public buses and trains. Last year, SMRT’s train services were extended for commuters travelling late during the eve of the Lunar New Year — stay tuned for updates on this year’s schedules. If you must travel by private transport, consider carpooling, shared car hire, or using the services of electric car-sharing companies like BlueSG. 

5. RETHINK RED PACKETS

RETHINK RED PACKETS

Offer digital versions by using PayNow via major banks instead. This way, you can even send your well-wishes to those who can’t make it for gatherings. If you still prefer something more traditional, use recycled red packets in good condition and skip the new notes — especially since the carbon emissions generated from printing new notes for Lunar New Year each year is said to be similar to that from powering 430 four-room HDB flats annually. You may also want to drop your crumpled red packets at recycling bins found at most major banks , which are often available throughout the year.

6. SNACK SUSTAINABLY

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), about 900 million kg of plastic is discarded every year in Singapore. Avoid individually-wrapped items to help reduce such waste. Purchase Lunar New Year goodies from bakers who accept container returns. You can find some of them at Project bECOme and most even offer you a small refund. Even with mindful buying, you can easily get carried away with treats during this period. Be sure to keep track of their expiry dates and reduce food waste by sharing or giving the excess goodies away.

7. PURCHASE LOCALLY-GROWN PRODUCE FOR YOUR REUNION DINNER

You’ll not only reduce the carbon footprint from importing ingredients, but will also enjoy the freshest produce possible. Singapore is home to several local vegetable farms and fisheries that supply delicious stock, but you can also look at businesses such as Ugly Food, which sells blemished and surplus produce that is nutritious and safe to consume. While fish is associated with abundance and therefore a popular Lunar New Year menu item, its supplies are threatened by overfishing. Have a more eco-conscious meal by consulting WWF’s guide for more sustainable seafood options.

Interested in serving beyond your obligations? Consider the Volunteer Extension Scheme, which allows PNSMen who have completed their NS liability to continue serving beyond their statutory age. PNSMen (With NS liability) who have passed their statutory age of 40 years (Junior Officers) & 50 years (Senior Officers) may apply.

Like our stories? Subscribe to our Frontline Digital newsletters now! Simply download the HomeTeamNS Mobile App and update your communication preference to ‘Receive Digital Frontline Magazine’, through the app settings.

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In The Force

Valuable lessons from our SCDF service

Two SCDF NSFs share the most important lessons they learnt during NS – a sense of perspective, resilience and tenacity.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: SCDF

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal Bin Mohamad Hussin of Clementi Fire Station and SGT2 Ding Bowen of West Coast Marine Fire Station are full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) who exemplify the courage and resilience that form the cornerstones of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

Haikal enlisted on Feb 8, 2022, and was assigned to Clementi Fire Station as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Assisting the paramedic during emergency medical calls, he is responsible for providing pre-hospital care and medical attention to patients in their hour of need.

Bowen was posted to West Coast Marine Fire Station on Sept 19, 2022, as a Navigation Specialist. He is trained in high-altitude rescues, marine firefighting and nautical navigation – skills that are crucial to safeguarding our waters.

Haikal and Bowen share how their service with SCDF had transformed them*.

How would you describe your typical shift at Clementi Fire Station?

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal: I usually report to work around 7.15am or 7.15pm, depending on my shift. After a quick debrief by the supervisors and handover session with the outgoing colleagues, we would conduct a thorough check of the assigned ambulances to ensure that all medical equipment and supplies on board the appliances are accounted for. Sometimes, we could be despatched to calls when our checks are still ongoing. Therefore, we must always be mentally prepared to respond to an emergency.

How is an NSF’s shift different from that of regular officers?

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal: We observe the same working hours as our regular colleagues, which is a 12-hour rotation from 8am to 8pm or from 8pm to 8am. After completing two shifts, we will rest for two days before being rostered for another two night shifts, which will also be followed by two rest days.

What is the most demanding aspect of responding to medical incidents?

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal: The medical incidents that we respond to are dynamic in nature. The seemingly routine medical conditions can escalate into something serious very quickly. Therefore, we have been trained to be thorough in our assessment of the patients and to be mentally prepared for any scenario.

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal responding to an incident with his colleague.

Rescue995: What are the most challenging situations that you have faced so far? What lessons have you learnt from those experiences?

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal: My tour of duty as an EMT had taught me the importance of mental fortitude. Once, we had attended to an elderly patient who had not been contactable for several days. It was heartbreaking to find the resident immobilised and in poor state of care. Although the crew were taken aback and distressed, we had to control our feelings and focus on delivering the best care for the patient. The incident had shown me the importance of mental resilience and to stay focus on the task at hand. This also reinforced my sense of duty to help others unconditionally.

Rescue995: How has your tour of duty as an EMT contributed to your personal growth?

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal: Seeing how unpredictable and fragile life can be, I have learnt not to take anyone or anything for granted. No matter how difficult my day was, I remained positive and thankful for the opportunities in life. Overall, National Service has made me to be more optimistic and to work hard towards a better future for everyone.

Rescue995: What is one thing you wish the public could understand about SCDF’s work? How can the community offer better support?

SGT2 Mohamad Haikal: Know that SCDF officers are deeply committed to our mission of saving lives and properties. We are always ready to respond to emergencies around the clock. While we strive to do our best, we are also saddened when outcomes that are beyond our control transpired. Despite this sobering reality, we hope that the public will continue to support us in our mission.

SGT2 Bowen (left) navigating a SCDF marine vessel during a routine exercise.

Rescue995: Could you share more about your role as a Navigation Specialist?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: The roles in a Marine Fire Station are multi-faceted. Therefore, we must be competent in a variety of skills. On top of firefighting and rescue, we must also be familiar with the maritime equipment and operating environment. As a Navigation Specialist, I support the Officer-on-watch (OOW) in navigating our marine vessels through sea traffic, using the Electronic Chart Display Information System. With training and guidance, I can accurately calculate the distances to incident sites and guide the OOW around the obstacles at sea. We are also well-versed in man-over-board procedures and the use of specific channels to communicate with the Police Coast Guard and the Operations Centre during combined operations.

Rescue995: That sounds like quite a lot to absorb! How long did you take to learn all of this?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: I see my learning as an ongoing process, in which I try to learn something new from my section commanders and seniors every day. They have been instrumental in imparting knowledge and skills to us, preparing us for the responsibilities ahead. It can be daunting for newcomers, given the number of new things to learn. However, with the consistent hands-on training under the guidance of our commanders and seniors, I was quickly trained, and proficient in carrying out my roles as a Navigation Specialist within 10 months.

Rescue995: Marine operations can be quite different from those on land. Could you share some of the unique challenges that you face?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: Sea and land operations are indeed very different. At times, we may have to conduct rescues on different vessels, secure our vessels to one that is on fire, and adjust our firefighting tactics based on the type and size of the vessel. Height rescues and boundary cooling may also be necessary during major incidents involving large ships.

SGT2 Bowen demonstrating the berthing of the Rapid Response Fire Vessel during a routine exercise.

Rescue995: What is the most memorable incident you have responded to, and why?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: This was a fire involving a berthed vessel in July 2023. As the incident occurred at around 9.30pm, the low lighting and visibility conditions made things more challenging for us. It was not easy to berth our vessels next to each other to transfer resources as well. As the Navigation Specialist, I worked very closely with the OOW and Steersman on the Heavy Rescue Vessel, reporting the speed of our vessel and the distances to other vessels or landmarks.

Despite the smoke-logged conditions on the affected vessel, our Section Commanders and firefighters battled relentlessly overnight and never gave up. Thanks to the teamwork from both West Coast Marine Fire Station and Brani Marine Fire Station, the fire was extinguished the next morning, with no casualties. This incident allowed me to witness first-hand, the complexity and precision with which our officers carry out different tasks to extinguish fires.

Rescue995: What specialised training have you undergone, and how does it differ from that of other SCDF frontliners?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: We undergo a five-week Marine Firefighting Specialist Course, which imparts skills in water and height rescue, as well as marine firefighting. We also learnt more about navigation and vessel firefighting at the Singapore Maritime Academy.

Rescue995: What are you looking forward to after your NS?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: Having enjoyed teamwork and problem-solving as a Navigation Specialist, I would like to pursue a career with SCDF after completing my studies. The knowledge and skills that we have acquired are transferrable and will come in useful no matter where we go.

Rescue995: How has NS transformed your life?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: NS has taught me to remain calm, composed, and think critically under pressure. Instead of being reactive and emotional when the unexpected occurs, I have learnt to adopt a more measured, systematic, and thoughtful approach to solving problems.

Rescue995: Do you have any advice for those who wish to be SCDF Marine Specialists?

SGT2 Ding Bowen: Passion, physical fitness, and mental strength are essential. It may be demanding at times, but with some support from your peers, you can definitely do it!

*This story has been edited from an interview that was originally published in SCDF’s digital magazine, Rescue995.

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Club Buzz

Guardians Playoff: An exciting showcase of Home Team NSmen and NSFs’ team spirit

Participants from the 2023 edition reveal the competition’s highlights and what makes it so special.

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS / TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

The Guardians Playoff, formerly known as the Most Supportive Division (MSD), returned in 2023 after a two-year pandemic hiatus. The year-long event — which aims to foster bonding among Home Team NSmen and NSFs — sees individuals from both the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Divisions participating in a series of competitions.

Last year, 2,041 NSmen and NSFs competed in six games, including the popular Futsal 5 Tournament, REAL®RUN and TactSIM competition, along with newly introduced activities such as a physical and virtual bowling tournament and exciting challenges at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir’s Action Motion. Their loved ones weren’t left out either — 111 family members had fun with fringe activities such as navigating a multi-level net maze obstacle course at Action Motion, as well as games and competitions across HomeTeamNS clubhouses.

In the main event, SCDF’s 4th  Division and SPF’s J Division emerged as champions. The awards ceremony, held on 18 November 2023 during HomeTeamNS’ 19th Annual General Meeting, celebrated the merits of participating SCDF and SPF divisions and was a recognition of their competitive spirit. Beyond serving as a testament of their physical and mental prowess, the games presented an opportunity for the participants to bond with one another. Here’s what they took away from the friendly competition.   

IT’S ALL ABOUT TEAMWORK

Having represented SCDF’s 1st Division in the competition, NSman COL (NS) Cheng Chee Wee observed that the games had a rousing effect among his teammates. The 46-year-old engineer, who tested his sporting abilities through virtual bowling, Futsal 5, and the TactSIM games, revealed that he and his peers felt motivated to continue competing as a team in upcoming editions of the competition. “Such events enable unit personnel to cooperate with one another and strengthen their camaraderie,” he said.

For participants such as LTC (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh, working towards a shared goal took precedence over winning. The SCDF personnel revealed that while his division did not fare too well in last year’s REAL®RUN, they had fun making new friends and are looking forward to emerging stronger this year.

More importantly, he witnessed how the games brought different units together in a unique way. “It provides an avenue for units within the same division to share resources and allows commanders to recognise their team members’ contributions, which is key to any thriving division,” shared Shahrudin.

IN THE SPIRIT OF SPORTSMANSHIP

For others, the competition was an excellent platform for testing their own abilities. One such participant is 35-year-old SSSGT (NS) Khairil Nazir, who represented SPF’s J Division in the Tactical Simulation Challenges and TactSIM Convenor. He found it gratifying to pull off personal bests, while enjoying quality time with his loved ones. “The purpose of the games is to engage Police NSmen both mentally and physically. With an array of sports available, NSmen can enjoy bonding with colleagues and family,” he said.

Competing with his peers was another highlight for him. “Various divisions competed against one another, fostering a friendly rivalry,” shared the senior pharmacy technician. “An emphasis is also placed on strengthening camaraderie among NSmen from diverse backgrounds and age groups,” he added.

Khairil’s views were shared by SSSGT (NS) Zuhairi Wardi Bin Amir Khaled, who represented SPF’s J Division champions in the Action Motion playoff. The 29-year-old highlighted how the games spur team members to scale greater heights. “The challenges allow each individual to test their limits and showcase their skills and capabilities, while having so much fun in the process,” said the operations manager who works in the drone industry and has participated in the games since 2018.

It is this sense of comradeship that keeps him returning to compete. “The Guardians Playoff is a platform for team members to get to know each other during practice sessions, exchanging tips on how to improve themselves and working towards a collective goal to make their respective divisions proud,” he explained.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE THRILLS

Perhaps what most participants can agree on, is how the Guardians Playoff has grown into something they all look forward to. ASP (NS) Lai Shu Wei from SPF’s J Division, who helped to organise the last year’s games as chief sports convenor, recalled witnessing excited participants eagerly checking for the competition dates in the lead-up to the event. “Some also expressed happiness at the opportunity to represent their division in sports they excel in,” said the 26-year-old.

To him, the games provide a platform for personnel from different departments to forge deeper relationships.

“Engaging in friendly competition brings us together, creating a sense of unity and camaraderie that extends beyond the competition,” he elaborated. “The shared experiences still serve as a talking point when I reconnect with some of my teammates and participants.”

Shu Wei is now looking forward to the upcoming Guardians Playoff 2024, which will introduce a roster of new games including the Adventure HQ Challenge, Tchoukball Tournament, and Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, among others that will be announced later in the year. It’s time to start rallying together your trusty teammates for more action-packed fun!

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In The Force Technology

These Innovations And Efforts Keep Our Home Team At The Forefront Of National Security

From off-road motorbike trainings to state-of-the-art facilities that recreate different emergency rescue scenarios, here are the ways that our Home Team heroes stay ready for action. 

TEXT: MARY WU

PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE, SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE  

In addition to their bravery and dedication, our Home Team Guardians also train hard to protect the public in the face of challenging and risky situations. Giving them an edge are top-notch facilities equipped with cutting-edge technology, as well as meticulously-coordinated units that function like well-oiled machines. These efforts help to ensure that our national heroes are adequately prepared for any situation.

Read on to discover more about these innovations and teams.

SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE (SPF)

1. SWIFT AND SKILLFUL: RAPID DEPLOYMENT TROOPS

Trained to deal with public order threats and terrorist incidents, Rapid Deployment Troops can zip in on their Tactical Response Motorcycles — unmissable with their glaring blinker lights and screaming sirens — which allow them to rapidly manoeuvre through traffic gridlocks and challenging terrains, to reach incident sites quickly. Behind their speed and agility are hours of regular tactical riding exercises that include off-road training.

2. CALL CANINE-NINE-NINE: PUBLIC ORDER DOG

You may have seen our four-legged friends with their partners in blue, working hand-in-paw to control crowds, conduct anti-crime patrols, and track wanted individuals. Known for their versatility, the POD handlers’ trusty canines are also trained to guard criminals under arrest and patrol critical infrastructure. The POD teams work closely with the Police Tactical Unit to handle public order incidents and are also deployed to patrol at various security events.

3. MAINTAINING LAW AND ORDER: POLICE TACTICAL UNIT

Part of the Special Operations Command, the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) maintains public order in Singapore, from quelling riots to searching for armed criminals and terrorists. Bolstering PTU’s strength is its sophisticated fleet of purpose-built vehicles, which include the Tactical Vehicles, the Tactical Strike Vehicles, and the Water Cannons to disperse crowds. PTU officers are also equipped with an armoury of weapons and wear state-of-the-art personal protective gear plus a Helmet Mounted Camera System that aids in post-event investigations.

SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE (SCDF)

4. BEATING THE HEAT: COMPARTMENT FIRE BEHAVIOUR TRAINING

Indoor fires carry risks such as flashovers and backdrafts. The former is a sudden simultaneous ignition of combustible contents in an enclosed space when the temperature reaches a critical level, while the latter is a phenomenon that occurs when a fire is deprived of oxygen but continues to produce flammable gases. When fresh air is reintroduced into the enclosed space, these accumulated gases can cause an explosion.  

At the Compartment Fire Behaviour Training facility, firefighters can experience such hazards in a controlled environment where sensors and thermocouples embedded within the walls monitor real‐time temperatures of the smoke and fire to ensure safe and effective training. Utilising a system that meets the standards of the National Environment Agency — a wet scrubber system processes, cools, and cleans gases and smoke generated by the facility.

5. KEEPING ROADS AND TUNNELS SAFE: ODYSSEY

Firefighters and medical personnel train in the Odyssey — a replica of an underground road tunnel — to prepare for scenarios such as road traffic accidents, vehicle fires, and tunnel flooding. Through simulations involving scrapped vehicles, officers can practice their extrication, vehicle stabilisation, and mass casualty management techniques.

6. ENHANCING EMERGENCY RESPONSE: NATIONAL EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES TRAINING CENTRE

The National Emergency Medical Services Training Centre (NETC) is SCDF’s new pre‐hospital emergency medical training centre. Trainees undergo comprehensive training via end-to-end simulations, mixed-reality, and sensors that provide real-time feedback. These take them through various crucial processes from team preparation and planning prior to arrival on the scene to the medical management of the patient both on-scene and enroute to the hospital and the handover of patient management to hospital staff.   

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