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Featured In The Force

Keeping Singapore drug-free

Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB)’s Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign recognises the devastating impact of drugs on abusers and their loved ones, and aims to garner public support for a drug-free lifestyle. We ask two CNB staff and one Singapore Civil Defence Force NSF why staying drug-free is important to them.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

While the number of drug abusers arrested in Singapore declined by 11 per cent last year, there is a worrying trend: Some 34 per cent of the 2,724 arrested were new drug abusers – and 60 per cent of these new abusers were under 30 years of age.

Given the high proportion of younger abusers, it is important to raise awareness of the harmful effects of drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin and cannabis, which are most commonly abused in Singapore. These drugs not only harm the health and well-being of the abusers, but they also damage the lives of their families, friends and the community at large.

This year’s Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) aims to build continued support for a drug-free Singapore, with a DrugFreeSG Light-Up on Sunday, 26 June between 7.30pm to 12 midnight.

Held since 2018, the light-up will see Singapore’s most iconic buildings lit up in the green and white, colours of the anti-drug ribbon, to symbolise Singapore’s support for the drug-free cause and commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – known as ‘World Drug Day’ – which falls on 26 June. This year, the light-up is paired with the DrugFreeSG Pop-Up at Suntec City Tower 3 East Atrium, between 26 June and 3 July.

Said Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, and President of HomeTeamNS, in a video produced by CNB in support of the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign: “26 June marks the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This global observance aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs cause to society and serves as a reminder for all of us not to take our relatively drug-free environment here in Singapore for granted.”

AVOIDING THE TRAP OF DRUGS

Mr Samuel Ang Wei Jie is an administrative officer in the Department Technology Office in CNB. He provides an essential service to the functioning of the organisation by handling the on and off-boarding of CNB officers’ accounts.

Having worked as a community engagement officer in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) during his full-time National Service (NS) stint, Mr Ang was eager to join CNB due to the familiarity of its structure.

In addition, CNB’s work resonates with him as he is adamant about staying drug-free. “Since I was young, schools have been emphasising the need to stay drug-free,” says Samuel. “I keep myself away from drugs because I know the heavy consequences that come with them.”

In his view, having the right people around you are just as important as one’s personal resolve, when it comes to steering clear of drugs. “I think many people do drugs when they’re seeking attention or are being influenced by a bad social circle. I would tell them: ‘Don’t fall for the trap – your life is your own, not anyone else’s.”

EARLY PREVENTION FIGHTS ADDICTION

As an NSF Provost in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), SGT1 Darren Goh helps to enforce discipline and assists in running the rehabilitation and regime programmes in the detention barracks.

Having been recognised as an outstanding Provost and an exemplary role model, SGT1 Darren lives out his high professional standards  through his personal life as he takes a resolute stand against drugs.

“Drug abuse causes the abuser to become overwhelmed daily by the temptation of drugs, to the point where he or she is unable to carry out routine tasks such as working or studying. The abuser will be less likely to care or consider the feelings of others. That is why drug abuse can ruin the lives of a lot of people.”

SGT1 Darren believes that drug prevention is the way to go, so that people do not become addicted in the first place. “It is important that people – especially those who are young – stay away from drugs, including things like cough syrup which can be easily purchased. One quote I would like to share with them is this: ‘Work hard to soar high, don’t do drugs to get by.’”

WORKING TO SUPPORT THE DRUG-FREE CAUSE

CNB Community Partnership intern, Dion Lee, hopes to one day join the organisation as a regular officer. The former Ground Response Force NSF officer with the SPF responded to several drug-related incidents that made an impact on him and fuelled his determination to stay drug-free.

Recalling an incident where a man was found lying on the ground, Mr Lee says that he and his partner soon discovered that the man had no pulse and was not breathing.

“It was determined later by a pathologist that the person had passed on due to a drug overdose,” he recounts. “When I conducted a search on him, I found a picture of him and his mother. My heart sank and I thought to myself, how would his mother feel if we were to break the news to her? That is when I realised that drugs do not just affect the abusers, but those around them as well.”

When studying at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, Mr Lee volunteered as an A3 (Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy) advocate, disseminating anti-drug messages within his circle of friends. “I tapped on what I learnt in school and my previous internships to help create awareness of the drug-free cause and make a positive impact in the community. I believe for every person we reached out to, another person is impacted – and he or she can help in promulgating anti-drug messages too.”

Mr Lee, who is currently tasked with helping to plan the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign, says that the social evil of drugs is something that Singaporeans should not disregard. “I believe everyone has a part to play in keeping Singapore drug-free, and it all starts with me and you!” 

Visit the CNB website to learn more about the DrugFreeSG Light-Up on 26 June, and the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign.

As part of this year’s Drug Free SG campaign, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is collaborating with HomeTeamNS to educate and encourage members to stay clear of drugs.

Members and visitors at all HomeTeamNS Clubhouses are invited to fold green and white Anti-Drug Ribbons to show support for a drug-free Singapore. The activities take place over the following dates:

  • 19 June to 2 July 2022: HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier
  • 1 to 30 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok
  • 12 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Khatib
  • 6 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Tampines

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Featured In The Force

A bigger role in blue: Transitioning from junior to senior SPF officer

SSS (NS) Jason Chua from the Singapore Police Force shares his experience attending a six-week leadership course at the Home Team Academy.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: SPF

Like many of his fellow Police National Service Men (PNS men), SSS (NS) Jason Chua was happy to perform his duties to the best of his abilities. In November 2021, he was one of three PNS men who were given the unique opportunity to undertake a six-week leadership course held at the Home Team Academy (HTA) with other regulars from the Singapore Police Force.

This course was specially designed for officers to be promoted to the echelons of senior officers. “I am honoured to count myself as a member of this pioneer batch of PNS men chosen for this leadership course,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

BONDED BY A COMMON MISSION

The course tested each trainee’s physical and mental resilience, and the group bonded quickly.

“Our background and rank — be it Station Inspector or Senior Station Inspector — were irrelevant. We learnt to sync and grow together as comrades-in-arms, holding the special title of Senior Officer Trainee (SOT).”    

The course began with a four-week non-residential intensive academic programme where the trainees studied aspects of the law that were most relevant to good policing, such as the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act.

“We were taught by not only experienced course managers but were also privileged to hear directly from seasoned private practitioners who candidly shared their knowledge with us,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

INTELLECTUALLY INTENSE TRAINING

“While it was an intellectually grueling experience, I am certain that all the SOTs were grateful for this academic rigor. After all, with increased scrutiny by the public on the work we do, it is increasingly important for police officers to be equipped with the legal knowledge that would enable them to excel in their job,” he added.

The academic programme culminated in a written examination comprising essays and short structured hypothetical questions that assess the SOTs ability to react to various scenarios and apply the correct police powers. The trainees were graded on the accuracy of their responses.  

“While such hypothetical scenarios cannot replace the real-life action that officers on the ground face daily, we welcomed the opportunity to put our new-found knowledge to practice,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

ENTERING THE FINAL PHASE

According to SSS (NS) Chua, the real fun commenced just two days after the examinations with an exciting two-week residential leadership training stint – the final leg of their course.

Conducted by the Leadership and Executive Training School (LETS) of the HTA, the residential component of the course aimed to develop, prepare and equip police officers with the necessary skills and knowledge to step into the shoes of an Inspector.

“Throughout the leadership course, we undertook various exercises to train us holistically to become an all-rounded leader. From classroom lessons to physical trainings, we were stretched and pushed to fulfil our highest potential. Our physical and mental resilience was tested time and again. Without the encouragement from our instructors and the friendship of our squad-mates, we would not have pulled through,” SSS (NS) Chua said.

The trainees also organised a fire-side chat with Deputy Superintendent of Police, Roy Lim, on the topic of leadership.

“There was no better way to learn about leadership than to hear first-hand from a seasoned and respected leader himself. I found the talk by SUPT (NS) Lim to be candid and forthcoming on what makes a good leader. The tips and lessons SUPT (NS) Lim shared – including how he rose through the ranks –were simply first class!”

SSS (NS) Chua appreciated the fact that lessons were not confined to the classroom. During this final phase of the course, trainees worked in teams, conducted mock briefings and went on outdoor “missions”.

“These exercises required us to apply and put into practice the leadership skills imparted to us during the course, such as communication skills, teamwork and efficiency. The two-week residential component of the course taught me more about myself and what it takes to be a good leader. There is more to leadership than meets the eye. It comes from experience in walking the leadership journey and being humble and learning from others,” said SSS (NS) Chua.

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Close Up Featured

Celebrating 25 years of service to the nation

DAC (NS) Mohammad Nurizham Shah Bin Abdullah reflects on how the Singapore Police Force has evolved and what keeps him going in his service.

TEXT: KEENAN PEREIRA

PHOTOS: DAC (NS) MOHAMMAD NURIZHAM SHAH BIN ABDULLAH

A quarter of a century: That’s how long DAC (NS) Mohammad Nurizham Shah Bin Abdullah has served in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) — first in Jurong Police Division and now as the NS Commander of the Public Transport Security Command (TransCom). During his time in TransCom, he has seen countless NSmen step up to serve their country as well, with the unit holding one of the highest numbers of NSmen within the SPF.

“As a NS-Heavy Unit, comprising about 80% full-time NS officers, this unique proportion means that TransCom is well-placed to showcase the values which NSmen can bring to the Force,” explained DAC (NS) Shah, 48. “In some ways, the National Service officers run the entire operation,” he added. The regulars play a supervisory role, while most of the NS officers are deployed for foot patrol and is a common sight at Singapore’s public transport networks, from MRT stations to bus interchanges.

There are also other vocations for the NSmen in TransCom. A handful of them are deployed in the TransCom’s Provost division, which maintains discipline among officers. Some of them serve as trainers within TransCom, equipping fellow men with self-defence and security knowledge. There is also a team that provides administrative support to ensure operations run smoothly, as well as a Community Policing Unit which works closely with members of the public to ensure the success of initiatives such as the Riders-on-Watch (ROW) that taps on commuters to deter and detect crimes.

FINDING THE GOOD

Taken before the Covid-19 outbreak, DAC (NS) Shah is briefing his team during a National Day deployment in August 2019.

Regardless of vocation, DAC (NS) Shah has a simple mantra for his men in maximising their time during their in-camp training (ICT): Positivity. “I look at ICT as a way of looking to improve ourselves,” he said. “It would be a shame if people booked in and just switched their minds off because there’s so much to gain from ICT. Coming back for In-Camp Training also remind my officers of their obligation towards national defence and protecting essential service that serves the community.”

Top of the list is physical fitness. He added that being active in NS has helped him maintain his fitness through the years. “My siblings are around my age, but I’ve seen them grow much more … sideways,” he laughed. “Seeing my men in their late 20s and 30s give it their all during physical training inspires me to do the same. I’m glad that I can still run, even though I’m pushing 50.”

Another often overlooked perk of being an active NSman is career growth. “When you come back for ICT, it’s like a big networking mixer. You’ll be able to cross paths with people from many industries and that can help your career,” explained DAC (NS) Shah, who works in the telecommunications sector.

There’s also the benefit of bonding with the men that you’ve grown up with. “ICT is marked by division competitions, which can be a fun way to show off your talents, be it in shooting, running or even dragon boating.” DAC (NS) Shah recalled how one of his men, who was not very athletic, stood up to proudly represent his unit in a darts competition. “He volunteered because he wanted to give back to his unit and that was heart-warming.”

GROWTH AND GAINS

DAC (NS) Shah (left) with his late parents during his Officer Cadet Graduation Dinner in 1996.

DAC (NS) Shah is a valuable repository of the Force’s history and heritage. Take for example the evolution of the weapons and arms that police officers carry. DAC (NS) Shah candidly shared why each iteration was better than the last. “When I started 25 years ago, officers were issued with a Smith & Wesson revolver, which was changed to the Taurus M85 revolver in 2002.”

He recalled this switch was welcomed by officers because of the laser pointer that came with the Taurus M85, ensuring a more accurate shot. And last year, the standard-issue weapon was changed to a Glock 19 Gen 5 pistol, which can carry up to three times more rounds than its predecessor. It also came with a safety mechanism that prevents accidental discharge.

Changes were also made to the rusty batons that police carried. In 2001, the metallic T-baton was introduced to replace the previous metal baton. The metallic T-baton was then replaced by a lightweight extendable baton in 2019. Apart from improvement to equipment, he also witnessed the transformation of TransCom to deal with the changing operating landscape, expansion of transport network, and competing demand for resources. This includes operationalisation of TransCom Woodlands sub-base in 2019 and the implementation of new initiatives such as empowering NSmen to take on more leadership roles in leading anti-crime rounds and community engagement with ROW volunteers.

Importantly, changes to the Force’s hardware have been accompanied by changes to its software. “Today’s police officers are much more skilled at engaging members of the public. This is especially true for TransCom officers, as we are regularly on the ground and in public spaces. It’s an encouraging sign as we value our partnership with the public.”

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Club Buzz Featured

School’s out, fun’s in

It’s the June school holidays, take part in these exciting activities and enjoy great promotions at HomeTeamNS!

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

It’s every kid’s favourite time of the year – and the June school holidays are set to be fun for the whole family as well, as you hold your own bowling tournament, discover Peranakan crafts, pose for a family portrait and fold Anti-Drug ribbons together.

With all these activities and promotions to look forward to this month, the HomeTeamNS clubhouses are where your kids will want to spend the June school holidays!

Being a HomeTeamNS member has its perks, even outside the clubhouses. Here are some promotions that your children will want to check out.

LITTLE RANGERS CLUB

If your children are looking to step out of their comfort zones and try something new during the June school holidays, the Little Rangers Club is organising a 1 Day Scuba Diving and Circus Tricks School Holiday Camp on 21 June 2022 for children aged nine and above.

Drop your kids off at Orchid Country Club at 10am and they’ll enjoy a day of fun and learning, as they’re guided through scuba diving in the safety of a swimming pool before spending the afternoon learning circus tricks like juggling the diabolo and spinning plates on a stick.

*Be sure to sign up early as slots are limited. Head over to the HomeTeamNS Mobile App to view the promo code. Promo code has to be quoted at point of registration to enjoy offer. This promotion is not valid with any others.

PERANAKAN-INSPIRED PLAYTIME

In collaboration with award-winning local Peranakan Home Museum, The Intan, T-Play at HomeTeamNS Khatib is proud to be part of the National Heritage Board’s annual Children’s Season, which aims to inculcate a museum-going culture in the next generation.

As part of Children’s Season, T-Play Khatib will feature art, storytelling and handmade crafts designed to showcase the rich and vibrant history of Peranakan culture.

On 17 June 2022 at 8pm, settle down and get cosy for an evening of Storytelling with Baba Alvin (S$20 per participant, not inclusive of T-Play entry).

And on 24 June 2022 from 7pm to 9pm, learn the delicate art of Manik Beading (S$84 per participant, includes T-Play entry).

NURTURE CREATIVITY THE FUN WAY

Fun-cademy at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier presents a programme designed to hone creative minds and develop essential motor skills in children aged between five and 10 years old. They’ll learn to dance, bake and engage in exciting craft activities – and of course, have fun while doing it all.

The programme will run between 20 to 21 June 2022. From as low as S$330, the passes are inclusive of tea, lunch breaks, and workshop materials. Learn more about the fees and Fun-cademy here.

EXCLUSIVE OUTDOOR SILENT MOVIE SCREENING

Wrap up the June School Holidays with your loved ones at HomeTeamNS Khatib for a FREE outdoor silent movie screening! Exclusively for HomeTeamNS members, sit back and relax on comfortable beanbag chairs and watch a movie from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, on 24 June 2022.

Movie-goers will just have to grab a pair of earphones, their mobile devices, and download & register on the Cinewav app available on Google Play, App Store, and App Gallery before the movie. A promo code to download the movie audio file will be sent through email. What are you waiting for? Register before 22 June 2022 to get your seats!

Visit our website for more information on the movie screening here.

RAISE AWARENESS FOR A DRUG-FREE SINGAPORE

As part of this year’s Drug Free SG campaign, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is collaborating with HomeTeamNS to educate and encourage members to stay clear of drugs.

Members and visitors at all HomeTeamNS Clubhouses are invited to fold green and white Anti-Drug Ribbons to show support for a drug-free Singapore. The activities take place over the following dates:

19 June to 2 July 2022: HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier

1 to 30 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok

12 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Khatib

6 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Tampines

FOR TINY DANCERS

If your child can’t stop moving (even when there’s no beat), they might discover a new passion at the free dance trial classes, held by Dance Theatre Arts. Located at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier, Dance Theatre Arts is offering free dance trial classes for hip-hop and tap dancing enthusiasts aged between eight to 10 years old.

The free hip-hop trial class takes place every Wednesday between 5.45pm to 6.45pm, while the free tap dance trial class is on Mondays between 4.45pm to 5.30pm.

To register or learn more about the trial classes, contact 9652 6066 and mention or flash this promotion, which is valid until end June 2022.

PICTURE PERFECT MEMORIES

Capture your kids growing up with 30 per cent off a family photography session at Pierre Ooi Photography Studio, also located at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier.

The discount, which is exclusive to HomeTeamNS-JOM members, includes one 20-inch by 16-inch portrait with canvas and framing, one 12-inch by 8-inch portrait with framing and high-resolution soft copies of two selected images. Normally worth S$388, the package is now available at S$268.

Contact info@pierreooi-photography.com or call 8112 3114. Mention or flash this promotion to enjoy this offer, which is valid until end of June 2022.

CRAFTING A STORY TOGETHER

Little ones will sharpen their listening skills – and get to enjoy a hands-on activity – this Father’s Day, at the Interactive Storytelling and Craft Session with Mrs Eileen Chua at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok.

The event takes place on Father’s Day, 19 June from 10am to 11am. Admission is free, but remember to pre-register first.

BE BOWLED OVER THIS FATHER’S DAY

If your family are competitive by nature, bring them to SuperBowl at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier and HomeTeamNS Khatib this June. This family-friendly activity is also wallet-friendly, since Dads enjoy free bowling on Father’s Day ,19 June 2022.

Make sure to plan ahead as the promotion is only valid on 19 June and cannot be used with other promotions, privileges, discount cards or vouchers. It cannot be exchanged for cash and is non-transferable.

*SuperBowl reserves the right to amend, append or withdraw terms and conditions without prior notice.

GO ON A DURIAN TOUR

Don’t bask in the post-holiday blues once June is over. Instead, book a 1-Day Bekok Durian Tour with HomeTeamNS! You’ll depart from one of the following clubhouses of your choice –HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier, HomeTeamNS Khatib or HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok on 3 July 2022.

You’ll head to Bekok, Johor in Malaysia to indulge in a durian buffet and a satisfying lunch of fried beehoon, curry and tropical fruits. There’s also time to shop at Yong Peng Noodles Factory & Yoyo, as well as the shopping malls in Johor Bahru before ending with a sumptuous dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.

Learn more about the tour itinerary and fees here.

Download the new and improved HomeTeamNS Mobile App for the latest promotions and membership perks! 

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Club Buzz Featured

HomeTeamNS Heroes: On the frontlines of customer experience

Meet HomeTeamNS’ Customer Experience Ambassadors, Jessica Leong Hui Yi and Muhammad Hashim Bin Mohamed Yusoff, who make visits to any HomeTeamNS Clubhouse feel like home.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: MEDIACORP STUDIO 3

If you’ve ever asked a question about swimming pool opening hours, or booked a function room at a HomeTeamNS clubhouse, chances are you’ve interacted with one of our Customer Experience Ambassadors (CEAs) – a team of people dedicated to ensure that members and guests have a smooth and pleasant experience.

In addition to assisting visitors in the clubhouse lobby, members’ lounge and function rooms, CEAs also respond to customer queries via phone, live chat and email. But beyond such standard interactions, the CEA team is working to bring a more personal approach to the customer service experience.

For example, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEA Muhammad Hashim Bin Mohamed Yusoff found himself lending a listening ear to HomeTeamNS members, who shared challenging stories about how they were coping during the unprecedented global event.

“Listening to them and sharing some kind and supportive words like ‘take care and stay safe’ are my way of expressing to them that they’re not in this alone. It’s rewarding when you know you are able to make someone’s day with these simple gestures. One thing’s for sure – it certainly made mine.”

HomeTeamNS Customer Experience Ambassador Muhammad Hashim Bin Mohamed Yusoff

GIVING VISITORS A WARM HOMETEAMNS WELCOME

According to Jessica Leong Hui Yi, the most rewarding thing about being a CEA is the opportunity to build bonds with regular HomeTeamNS clubhouse visitors.

“When we see them, they sometimes greet us even before we can greet them,” she says. “It feels like they’re coming home.”

Ms Leong, who joined HomeTeamNS last January after graduating from Murdoch University in September 2020 with a Bachelor of Business Hospitality and Tourism Management Marketing, enjoys the fact that she gets to meet people from different walks of life as part of her job. And far from having to repeat a rote customer service script, she is able to engage members on their preferred terms to ensure that they are satisfied.

“When I meet different members, I try to see if they want a quick answer to their question or if they’re looking for a longer conversation about how they can best experience our clubhouse,” she explains. “As part of the team that represents the face of HomeTeamNS, we try our best to contribute to a better customer service experience in every way.”

Mr Hashim, who also joined HomeTeamNS last year in June, recalls how Ms Leong assisted him with a challenging customer situation during his second week on the job. A customer had brought her children for a day out at the swimming pool, but did not have the required membership. With Jessica’s help, Mr Hashim was able to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

As a father of two children himself, Mr Hashim has a soft spot for families who are spending time together at the clubhouse.

“Seeing them having a good time at the clubhouse makes me feel that I’ve accomplished my task,” he says. “Our job is to bring the members’ experience up to a whole new level, which is very rewarding.”

Now that social-distancing regulations have eased, both Ms Leong and Mr Hashim are looking forward to reconnecting with HomeTeamNS clubhouse visitors and raising the bar for members’ experiences even higher.

MORE THAN A SERVICE TRANSACTION

Even as the number of visitors ramps up, the CEAs are determined to maintain the warm and personal aspect of the HomeTeamNS customer service experience.

As observed by Ms Leong: “Many members are now more willing to leave home, step out of their comfort zones and explore the clubhouse. To make things easier, we have different channels to reach out to them like the new and improved HomeTeamNS Mobile App. When you make a facility booking, you’re experiencing time spent with us, whether via the live chat or emails, phone calls or meeting us on site. It’s not just a transactional purchase – we try to interact with customers using a human touch.”

She adds that as a CEA, she hopes to continue to get to know visitors better and work with them to ensure their HomeTeamNS clubhouse experience is engaging and pleasant.

For example, when helping a visitor to book the pool facility, instead of just telling them to download the app in order to make the booking, she prefers to chat with them about their desired purpose. “Understanding where they are coming from – such as an elderly visitor who wants to bring their grandkids for a swim – makes the process much easier for them. I can also explain the perks of going digital and how they can reconnect with us in a faster manner, thus enticing them to give it a try and truly catering to their needs.”

Ever the family man, Mr Hashim says that on his off days he plans to bring his kids to Khatib Clubhouse more often, as they enjoy visiting T-Play. “HomeTeamNS has facilities for teammates, friends and families, and Khatib Clubhouse recently celebrated its first anniversary and there are lots of perks to enjoy for both members and non-members. So feel free to come to our clubhouse – we have lots to offer you guys!”

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Featured Lifestyle

Have passport, will travel

With international travel slowly becoming the norm again, what do you need to know before you book your ticket abroad? What happens if you fall sick overseas, or your flight is cancelled due to changing border controls?

TEXT: MELODY TAN

IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

It’s time to dust off the passport, wheel out your suitcase and look for your winter jacket: overseas travel is back after two years of strict border controls, no thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Air passenger traffic was up 18 per cent in April compared to a month ago, and Singapore expects it to be restored to 50 per cent of pre-COVID passenger volume by the end of 2022. In the meantime, cross-border bus and taxi services between Singapore and Johor Bahru resumed in the beginning of May, after the land border was reopened for fully vaccinated travellers in April.

Travelling in the age of COVID-19 can be intimidating and confusing, but if you take some simple precautions, you can have a relaxing, stress-free vacation overseas. Read on to find out what they are.

RENEW YOUR PASSPORTS EARLY

Revenge travel – a term for pent-up travel demand after the restrictions caused by COVID-19 – is very real. Demand is so great that the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority  announced that Singaporeans who are renewing or applying for their passports will have to wait at least six weeks – a two-week increase from April’s four week-long processing time.

If you’re planning to head overseas soon, make sure to check that everyone’s passports have at least six months until expiry. Otherwise, you might find that your trip is over before it’s even begun.

BUDGET AND PLAN ACCORDINGLY

With rising oil prices and the challenges faced by the airline industry during the pandemic, it’s no surprise that growing demand for plane tickets has been met with higher prices.

If you’re planning a trip, it’s best to start early and keep an eye out for promotional deals, non-peak flight dates and alternative airlines. To save money, you might need to be a little bit more flexible with your dream itinerary – for example, by flying with a budget airline or even choosing a different destination.

You could also consider visiting places that can be reached by land or sea. Instead of heading to Bali, consider spending a long weekend at a Bintan villa in Indonesia. If you’re trying to beat the heat, consider driving to Genting or Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.

BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE WITH COVID-19 COVERAGE

What happens if you catch COVID-19 during your vacation? Or worse, just before your flight is due to depart Singapore? While travel insurance has been a standard purchase for many vacationing Singaporeans, it’s now more important than ever.

Look for a travel insurance policy that covers COVID-19-related expenses, such as clinic fees and hospitalisation overseas, as well as flight cancellations, delays and extra accommodation costs if you are quarantined or unable to board your flight. It might cost you a bit more than a standard travel insurance, but it’s worth the peace of mind.

PACK YOUR OWN SUPPLIES

Even if the country you’re travelling to has lifted their mask mandate, you should still bring along your masks just in case. After all, while planes have air exchange systems that can filter the COVID-19 virus, other forms of transportation, such as trains and buses, do not. You might want to wear your mask while on the airport shuttle to your hotel, or in crowded places.

In addition, bring along a few Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits and a thermometer. If you start to feel feverish or unwell during your travels, you can test yourself in your hotel room instead of having to Google for nearby clinics (and you might find it difficult to locate an English-speaking doctor, if you are travelling to non-native English speaking countries). Knowing if you really did catch COVID-19 will help you to figure out your next step. Do read up on the COVID-19 protocols of the country you are in, to find out how long you will be required to isolate, or whether you need to undergo a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

PREPARE YOUR DOCUMENTS

When travelling, the immigration authorities will want to see your notarised vaccination records, so make sure to download them from HealthHub and save them in your phone. If you’re travelling with your spouse and children, save copies of everyone’s vaccination records. Consider printing them out in case you lose your device or run out of battery.

Do check if your destination requires any contact tracing or health app, such as Malaysia’s MySejahtera app or Indonesia’s PeduliLindungi. You’ll probably have to fill in a health declaration form, such as Australia’s Digital Passenger Declaration, before departure. This can be done online or via the identically-named app seven days before your flight. Sorting all this before you leave can save you a lot of time at the airport – leaving you free to enjoy your first international trip since the pandemic. Happy travels!

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Featured Shape Up

Fighting fit for National Service

Enlisting for National Service soon? We talk to a Fitness Workz trainer to find out how you can improve your conditioning to be in the best possible shape for NS!

TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB

PHOTOS: FITNESS WORKZ

If you’re about to enlist for National Service (NS), it’s understandable to feel some trepidation over what lies in wait over the next two years. After all, NSmen are trained rigorously to ready themselves to defend our country – an important duty which calls for the requisite level of physical fitness.

Even so, with the right mindset and plan in place, you can place yourself on the right track to emerging from NS stronger in both body and mind, while having had the best experience possible – and we’re here to guide you through that!

EXPECTING WHAT TO EXPECT

Some of the challenges NSmen can typically expect to undergo include adjusting to new living environments and routines, hours of demanding physical training sessions, and a range of intensive physical activities which call for a high level of fitness.

According to Mr Muhammad Danish’aizat Bin Kamsani, a fitness trainer at Fitness Workz, setting realistic fitness goals is one way to stay on track and motivated before enlistment and throughout the NS journey.

“This gives you a framework through which you can achieve milestones. Achieving your fitness goal can be rewarding and being fit ahead of enlistment can reduce the risk of injury during basic training,” he shared.

So, how does one structure that fitness plan?

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

As a rule of thumb, it is ideal to allow yourself around a year to prepare for NS – this allows plenty of time for you to train at a measured pace and condition your body before enlisting.

Mr Danish’aizat recommends hitting the gym three days a week for the first few months, then ramping up the frequency to five weekly sessions as you progress.

“Always aim for improvement every week and try out new training styles. Having a few gym kakis can also help you stay motivated and focused on your fitness goals,” he advised.

Of course, not everyone may have the luxury of time to spend a full year of training. For instance, if one only has a month to prep before enlisting, Mr Danish’aizat recommends focusing on improving cardiovascular health and muscular endurance for the best short-term gains possible.

“This can help you to be mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming training sessions,” he explained.

THE ROAD TO GETTING FIGHTING FIT

When it comes to the exercises, our fitness trainer notes that focusing on strengthening your pectoralis and abdominal muscles before enlisting will translate into the greatest benefits for your NS journey. Again, tie these back to goals you wish to achieve.

For example, training yourself to run the 2.4km under 13 minutes will improve your cardiovascular fitness – which can not only help with the 2.4km run itself, but also a wide range of physical activities you can expect during NS.

Fun fact: Incorporating additional exercises to develop your shoulders, arms, back and legs can also improve your overall cardiovascular health! Doing so will also enhance your holistic strength, allowing you to tackle the physical challenges that come with NS more easily.

FITNESS FOR LIFE

Apart from fitness training, Mr Danish’aizat recommends maintaining a balanced, healthy diet to complement your training while also mentally preparing yourself for lifestyle changes during NS.

“Simply replace vegetable oil with olive oil, choose baking or air-frying over deep-frying. Try to prepare your own meals as much as possible or pick healthier options when you eat out. Getting used to eating healthy will also make it easier to acclimatise to a new healthy lifestyle upon enlistment,” he explained.

Through it all, the fitness habits picked up during NS will be helpful long after your stint is complete.

“Fitness does not stop as there is no limit to it. Continuing to live an active and healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of illness and improve your mental health! Each new day is a new opportunity to improve yourself – take it and make the most out of it,” Mr Danish’aizat advised.

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Featured On The Edge

10 fuel-saving hacks that actually work

Pump prices may be high but follow these simple fuel-saving tips to wring the maximum mileage from every drop of petrol.

TEXT: LEOW JU-LEN

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

From setting off early on your journey to servicing your car regularly and enjoying fuel discounts at Sinopec for HomeTeamNS members, here’s a list of simple and effective fuel-saving tips that can put a significant dent in your monthly expenses.

Some of these fuel-saving tips apply to the driver, some to the car, and others are just a matter of exploiting the fuel-saving features that the latest car models come with.

1. BE ORIGINAL

The first thing to do is: Nothing. That means keeping your car in its original condition. That’s because adding an aftermarket rear wing or body kit may make your car look cooler, but they are detrimental to aerodynamic efficiency (how slippery a car is when it moves through the air). Upsizing the wheels and tyres increases rolling resistance (the amount of energy your car needs to travel at a given speed).

Likewise, modifying the engine to increase power can raise the consumption of fuel. Just leave your car the same as it was when it left the factory if you want to keep it in the condition it was optimised for. How easy is that!

2. SAVE MONEY ON FUEL

Great news for HomeTeamNS members: Show your digital membership card at Sinopec along with your driving license and you’ll enjoy upfront fuel discounts — get up to 24 per cent off your petrol bill at Sinopec’s Bukit Timah service station and 23 per cent off at the Yishun and new Woodlands stations. The single easiest way to stretch your fuel dollar is to save money when you buy it.

3. GIVE THOSE TYRES AIR

Tyres that are even a little underinflated have more rolling resistance, and that raises fuel consumption by making the engine work harder. Be sure to check those pressures at least every other time you fill up the gas tank. That’s because air seeps out of tyres naturally, and that can cause a loss of 1 or 2 psi of pressure every month.

Fuel consumption rises as much as 0.3% for every 1% of under-inflation, so let’s work out the numbers: suppose you have a small car that returns 15km per litre of petrol on tyres that should be inflated to 32psi. If the tyres are down to 30psi after a month, the loss in pressure would reduce the fuel economy to 14.7km per litre — enough to shave 15km off a 50-litre tankful.

Properly inflated tyres are safer and last longer, too, making this hack a triple win.

4. BE SERVICE ORIENTED

Tempted to combat higher pump prices by skipping servicing? Don’t. Lots of small mechanical flaws can raise fuel consumption meaningfully. Clogged filters, fouled spark plugs, engine oil that’s past its best, misaligned wheels, and the list goes on. These are all picked up and sorted during servicing, so take your car to the workshop on time if you want to keep it running efficiently.

5. SET OFF EARLY

Rushing to your appointment is not only stressful, but it’s also bound to raise your fuel bill because it requires you to zoom along as quickly as you can. Try leaving five to 10 minutes earlier than you usually would, to give yourself time to get there without driving fast. It’s also safer, and you’ll be surprised at how much better your mood behind the wheel will be, too.

6. BACK OFF A LITTLE

Fuel-efficient driving isn’t about going slowly, but about going steadily. Accelerating takes energy, and braking removes kinetic energy, so both of those things are detrimental to fuel consumption. Instead, try to get up to a steady speed and do your best to maintain it.

Two things will help with that. Try to drive with a sense of anticipation and look further up the road than usual. That way you’ll be more aware of what’s going on around your car and can slip smoothly around upcoming hazards before you run into them.

Second, try keeping a bigger gap between yourself and the car ahead than you’re used to. The extra space will let you keep going at a smooth pace while the car ahead speeds up and slows down with the rest of traffic. It gives you a better view of what’s up the road, too, which is great for safety.

7. BE AN ECO-MANIAC

Saving fuel is sometimes a matter of pushing the right buttons in your car. Specifically, if it comes with different driving modes, try engaging the Eco setting. This turns down the throttle response (that is, the relation between how far you press the accelerator pedal and how much the engine responds) and makes the transmission change up the gears sooner. That might make your car seem sluggish, but full power is still available when you need it.

Eco mode sometimes reduces air-conditioning power, but some cars allow you to tweak that setting and keep the cold air going.

8. COAST ALONG

Many modern cars have a coasting or “sailing” mode (it’s sometimes activated by engaging the Eco setting) that’s similar to slipping the car into neutral and letting it roll freely. Get up to speed, take your foot off the accelerator (and keep it off the brake) and you’ll be amazed at how far you can keep going.

Some cars, typically mild hybrids, are able to shut down their engines completely while coasting, which is a neat way to travel without using any fuel at all.

Even if your car has no coasting function, however, you can try taking your foot off the accelerator early when you know you have to slow down (say, for a red light or upcoming bend). Modern cars shut down their fuel injectors under deceleration, which also means you burn no petrol while slowing down.

9. LET SATELLITES HELP YOU

You might know your way around Singapore with your eyes closed, but it can pay to key your destination into a satellite navigation system regardless. Why? Because some cars are able to tailor their routes to different criteria, so you can choose a speedy route or a fuel-saving route.

Some cars also fetch real-time traffic data and can set a route that avoids fuel-wasting traffic jams. Even if your car doesn’t have such fancy features yet, apps like Google maps can help you to avoid congestion, too.

10. LEARN TO GAUGE YOUR SUCCESS

How to figure out if any of this is working? Let your car tell you. A car’s trip computer can let you know your fuel consumption over a given trip, so try resetting it and, say, driving normally to work to get a baseline score — it’s usually expressed in L/100km (litres per 100km) or km/L (km per litre). The next day, reset it again and try the fuel-saving tips above and see how much difference they make!

You can also get a real-time readout of your car’s fuel consumption as you’re driving, which will let you know if you’re being frugal or wasteful at a given moment.

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Featured On The Edge

Staying safe from fires

The total number of fire calls has decreased by 1.8 per cent in 2021 – and while that’s good news, even one fire is too many. How can we reduce fire risk, and what should we do if a fire breaks out near us?

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

Fires can occur almost anywhere, from a HDB flat  to a waste oil processing plant, and even at a historical shrine on Kusu Island.

While the overall number of fire calls dipped slightly last year by 1.8 per cent, there were 194 cases of fire injury – ten more compared to 184 cases in 2020. In addition, three people died due to fires.

Fires are almost always preventable tragedies. Taking a few sensible precautions can ensure our safety, as well as the protection of our belongings and buildings. Read on to learn how to lower fire risk, as well as steps to take if a fire breaks out.

TIP #1: DON’T MESS WITH ELECTRICITY

There have been multiple cases of fires started by faulty battery packs of power-assisted bicycles (PABs) or personal mobility devices. These battery packs are often left to charge overnight or for a period of time, before exploding and igniting a fierce blaze.

If you have a personal mobility device or a PAB, be sure to buy original batteries and refrain from charging them overnight, for a long and unattended period of time, or near combustible materials. You should examine the batteries regularly for signs of damage, such as corrosion, bloating or a powdery residue. Avoid charging the battery immediately after using the PAB or mobility device, and never tamper with or modify it.

Similarly, electrical wiring in your home should be installed by a qualified electrician, as fires of electrical origin were the number one type of fire in 2021, with 588 cases, or 31.9 per cent of all fires. When purchasing electrical appliances, look out for the SAFETY mark. This indicates that the product has been tested for safety measures against fire, explosion and other dangers.

TIP #2: COOK WITH CARE

You might be a magician in the kitchen, but even a culinary wizard wouldn’t be able to stop a blaze once it’s out of control. To reduce fire risk, never leave your cooking unattended and be sure to keep flammable items away from any heat sources, such as the open flame on your stove.

To avoid nasty burns – or worse – avoid wearing loose clothing, such as long flowing sleeves, when you are cooking. Switch off the electrical outlets to appliances when they aren’t in use, and make sure that they aren’t overloaded. Next to electrical fires, cooking-related fires were the second highest in 2021, with 408 cases.

TIP #3: EXTINGUISH FOR CERTAIN

Fires can start from the smallest of sparks – and that includes a cigarette butt that hasn’t quite been stubbed out.

“Dropped light” fires – defined as fires caused by unextinguished cigarettes, charcoal embers and incense sticks – were the third most common type of fire last year, with 349 incidents.

If you are disposing charcoal embers or cigarette butts in the common rubbish chute or a bin, make sure that they have been fully extinguished to reduce fire risk. And if you have an altar or an aromatherapy burner at home, place it far away from curtains.

TIP #4: EDUCATE EVERYONE

Whether at home or in the workplace, everyone sharing the same space should be fully aware of potential fire risks.

For example, children should be taught to play with sparklers and lanterns outdoors only. Adults should make it a habit to avoid cluttering up fire escape paths, especially with flammable items such as books, newspapers and boxes. If you have a domestic helper who does the ironing, make sure she knows to switch off the iron instead of leaving it unattended on the board, as overheated fabric can catch fire. You might also consider organising a fire drill at least twice a year within your own household, so that everyone knows what to do in an emergency.

In workplaces, fire safety equipment, like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, should be kept updated. Employees should be trained to know what to do in the event of a fire. Employees should also make it a habit to turn off computers, laptops and other appliances when leaving the office. After all, fire safety is everyone’s responsibility.

WHAT TO DO WHEN A FIRE OCCURS

If a fire breaks out near you, the first thing to do is to stay calm. Call 995 for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), alert others and proceed to evacuate.

In the event of a small fire, you can attempt to put it out with a fire extinguisher (You can learn to use one on the SCDF website.) When it comes to a grease fire – such as cooking oil that has ignited – do not throw water on it, as that will cause the oil to splash and spread the fire even more. Instead, you can try starving it of oxygen by placing a metal (not glass, which will shatter) pot or pan over it, or pour a large amount of baking soda over the fire. It creates carbon dioxide when heated, which can smother the fire. You can also use a large damp towel to extinguish the fire.

In the case where it’s not possible to put out the fire without endangering yourself or others, it’s best to leave the area. If you can reach the gas mains on your way out, turn it off. If possible, close the door and shut the windows of the room that the fire is in so that it can be better contained.  Avoid smoke inhalation by staying low and crawling close to the walls. Use the stairs and try to head down to the ground floor. If you’re on a very high storey, look for the refuge floor – a holding area that provides safe harbour for residents during a fire.

When it’s not possible to leave the building, head to a room with a window – ideally one that faces a road, so that rescue can take place faster. Roll up a thick piece of cloth, like a blanket or carpet, to prevent smoke from entering through the bottom gap of the door. Let the SCDF operator on the phone know the location of the fire, where you are in the building, and how many people you have with you.

Finally, if the fire is not in your apartment but your neighbour’s, you should still evacuate rather than adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. SCDF’s protocol calls for the evacuation of residents on the same floor, or the two floors above the scene of the fire. Even if you’re not certain about whether the fire will spread, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. 

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Club Buzz Featured

Happy birthday HomeTeamNS Khatib

Well-wishers came out in full force to celebrate HomeTeamNS Khatib clubhouse’s first anniversary.

TEXT: ADLINA ADAM

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

Singapore has come a long way since the COVID-19 pandemic struck two years ago. With safe management measures relaxed, it marks the beginning of a new norm, as HomeTeamNS Khatib celebrated its first-year anniversary on 5 May 2022 with over 300 guests.

Members of the HomeTeamNS Board of Governors, Home Team NSmen volunteers and business partners were invited to commemorate the occasion. Gracing the anniversary launch dinner was Guest-of-Honour, Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, and Chairman of HomeTeamNS Board of Governors. Mr K Shanmugam officiated the event alongside Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development, and President of HomeTeamNS; Commissioner Eric Yap Wee Teck of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Vice President of HomeTeamNS; and Commissioner Hoong Wee Teck of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Vice President of HomeTeamNS.

MARKING A DIGITAL MILESTONE

While the COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges, HomeTeamNS viewed this as an opportunity to implement efficient and sustainable solutions at its clubhouses. During the event, the efficient technologies and infrastructure that have enhanced members’ experiences, as well as better accommodated their safety and wellbeing at the clubhouses, were recognised. These included the new and improved HomeTeamNS Mobile App and the “Hey Irene” A.I. Chatbot.

VALUING OUR HOME TEAM NSMEN THROUGH A NEW GENERATION OF CLUBHOUSES

To show his appreciation for the valuable contributions of Home Team NSmen, Mr K Shanmugam highlighted the need for future clubhouses to be state-of-the-art, best in class and of the highest quality — like the HomeTeamNS Khatib clubhouse.  This would enhance a keen sense of pride among Home Team NSmen, given their valuable contributions.  “Since 1967, generations of NSmen have kept Singapore safe and secure. More than 290,000 NSmen have served in the Home Team to date and more than 52,000 NSmen remain active today, in SPF and SCDF,” he shared.

With the HomeTeamNS Khatib clubhouse being the first property under the Home Team Clubhouse Masterplan, it has indeed lived up to the expectations of many, despite opening during the pandemic. Since its soft launch in August 2020, Khatib clubhouse has welcomed about 1.4 million visitors.

A recent member satisfaction survey found that 85 per cent of respondents were highly satisfied with HomeTeamNS, of which 90 per cent of those staying in the North ranked their overall satisfaction at Level 5 or 6 out of a 6-point rating scale.

“Looking back today, everything is now history,” said COL (NS) Sim Meng San, Chairman, Executive Committee, HomeTeamNS Khatib. “I applaud the tenacity of HomeTeamNS to keep on pushing its boundaries against all odds, to seize every opportunity to shout out to our Home Team NSmen about their new Clubhouse, and to present best-in-class facilities despite challenging circumstances.”

“To all NSmen across the generations, thank you for your service, for your dedication, your commitment, and sacrifices. You have helped to make Singapore a safe and secure home for all who live here.”

Mr K Shanmugam
Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law
Chairman of the HomeTeamNS Board of Governors

HomeTeamNS invites you to be part of our celebration! Till 30 June 2022, head to the HomeTeamNS Khatib’s ManCaves to enjoy an immersive story of Khatib Clubhouse — from a projection wall to an Augmented Reality (AR) sliding display that captures the clubhouse’s defining moments in transforming its architectural vision to reality. Entry to the showcase is free and is open to HomeTeamNS members and the public.

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