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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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In The Force

The Home Team Volunteer Network is helping to empower lives and boost public safety. Here’s how.

From helping ex-offenders to training to be a Community First Responder, these two volunteers share how helping others has also made a difference in their lives.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: HOME TEAM VOLUNTEER NETWORK

Mdm Jenap M Said and Lai Jiong Shen have been giving back to others. The former is a volunteer leader with the Yellow Ribbon Project (YRP) volunteer scheme, and contributes as an event ambassador and strong advocate for the YRP. Jiong Shen is a Civil Defence Lionhearter (CDLH) and is trained in emergency skills to be a Community First Responder.

‘IT’S BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE’

Mdm Jenap volunteering as an event ambassador at the Yellow Ribbon Project booth.

Mdm Jenap’s connection to the Yellow Ribbon Project began when she participated in the inaugural Yellow Ribbon Prison Run in 2009. She found meaning in the YRP’s purpose of raising awareness, generating acceptance and inspiring community action towards offering beyond second chances to our beneficiaries and their families. This propelled her continued participation in subsequent Yellow Ribbon Prison Runs. In 2012, her firm beliefs crystalised into action and she began her volunteering journey. She single-handedly raised $120,000 in donations where she ran 60km dressed in a full Catwoman costume to support former offenders in their studies. Today, as a volunteer leader within the YRP volunteer scheme, she specialises in advocating for the YRP at events, roadshows and guiding newer volunteers through their volunteer journey.

“I feel grateful and extremely happy when I volunteer or raise funds for ex-offenders, especially when I hear about how they have turned over a new leaf and are able to successfully reintegrate into society,” she said.

Even when her approaches to the public are rebuffed, she responds with a warm, gracious smile, turning rejection into an opportunity to make a connection. Why? She believes that every “no” brings her one step closer to a “yes”.

Moving forward, she seeks to deepen her understanding of mental health issues, recognising its rising prevalence in our community and the need for the community to develop empathy for people undergoing mental health issues. In addition, she feels that this is an area for growth both personally and in her role as a volunteer.

ON A MISSION TO IMPART LIFE-SAVING SKILLS

Jiong Shen (right) and Jun Ren (left), in action during one of their CDLH’s activities.

Jiong Shen is currently the honorary general secretary of Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) CDLH executive committee. The organisation aims to impart civil defence skills to the school’s population. 

The third-year mechanical engineering student had already received some civil defence training. He was a former member of the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC) and had attended courses that equipped him with knowledge on basic fire and rescue, first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Becoming a CDLH wasn’t initially on his radar until a friend told him about the club. He hasn’t looked back since. “Witnessing members of the public grasp the emergency preparedness knowledge I share with them is particularly rewarding,” he said.  

When the club resumed its activities after COVID-19 restrictions had eased, he realised it needed to address several challenges. For instance, there was an absence of clearly defined roles within the club, so members had to juggle various responsibilities.

Guidance from individuals like Mr Aaron Lee, staff-in-charge of NTU CDLH Club and COL Bob Tan, Deputy Director of Volunteer & Community Partnership Department from Singapore Civil Defence Force proved invaluable in navigating these early hurdles.

LOOKING AHEAD

In 2024, Jiong Shen hopes to continue empowering students with vital civil defence skills, enhancing safety and well-being across NTU’s campus.

“Knowing that the information can empower someone to make a difference in critical situations adds a profound sense of fulfilment to my volunteer journey,” he added.

Looking ahead, Mdm Jenap strives to continue deepening social connections and broadening society’s mindset in embracing beyond second chance..

“I hope that at least my warm smile can have a positive impact on that stranger, making that small connection to brighten up their day,” she says.

Mdm Jenap and Jiong Shen highlight the transformative impact volunteers can make in their communities. Together, their aspirations ensure a continued legacy of positive change.

Do you want to join as a Home Team volunteer? Discover the Home Team Volunteer Network today! You can also check out our Instagram and Facebook Page, @htvolunteers, to learn about our 11 schemes. Learn more on how you can make a difference in your community now!

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

Why I don’t regret leaving Australia to serve National Service in Singapore

SC 2 Athalla Rajendra Prayata takes pride in the country he calls home, as well as his role in ensuring Singaporeans’ safety and security.

When I received the letter informing me that I had to return to Singapore to serve my National Service (NS), I knew that it was time to usher in a new phase of my life as a more responsible adult in the country where I spent my formative years.

I was born in Indonesia, but moved to Singapore when I was one, and am a Singapore Permanent Resident. My family and I lived here for 12 years before migrating to Australia, where I was exposed to a different lifestyle. There, I enjoyed outdoor activities amid natural landscapes such as mountains, beaches, and lakes. Nonetheless, I’m proud to call the Lion City my home. This is where I enjoyed growing up in a safe and secure environment, as well as built a strong academic foundation.

Despite having previously lived in the country, I am still trying to cope with its fast-paced and highly efficient environment. One of my biggest challenges has been communicating in Malay with my NS peers, as my mother tongue is Bahasa Indonesia. Inevitably, I tend to mix up both languages, much to the amusement of my Malay friends in Singapore and Indonesian relatives. I often watch Malay shows to get better at the language, though my sentences still include English words whenever I speak — it reminds me of Singlish!

While training at the Home Team Academy upon entering the Singapore Police Force (SPF), I had a close group of batchmates with whom I would joke around with to keep our spirits high. Thanks to their support, I was able to grow accustomed to the tough training regime and graduate from the academy.

I am currently a Community Engagement Officer of the Community Policing Unit at Tampines Neighbourhood Police Centre. Here, I help raise awareness of the latest crime trends and crime prevention measures by conducting house visits and delivering talks to the public. This posting has been a great opportunity for self-development as it has enabled me to further fine-tune my public speaking skills, which I had honed while hosting events and delivering speeches back when I was a student counsellor in Australia.

One of the highlights of my role as a Community Engagement Officer is conducting talks at schools. Evidently, it’s important for residents across all age groups to be aware of crime prevention tactics and the different ways they can reach out to the police when they require assistance. Being able to help prevent others from falling prey to crime gives me a true sense of accomplishment as it allows me to play my part in keeping Singapore safe and secure.  

Overall, NS has helped me to develop better social skills, understand my strengths and weaknesses, and grow out of my comfort zone. In fact, I often tell overseas relatives who are curious about NS about my eye-opening experience that has helped me to mature as an individual equipped with skills to overcome life’s challenges. They always look forward to hearing stories of my time there. Serving in SPF has taught me to always remain positive even in the toughest of times. Not to mention, it has provided me with practical working experience before I embark on my tertiary education.

Beyond serving NS, I’m happy to have been able to reconnect with the culture and people of Singapore. I look forward to exploring different parts of South-east Asia to broaden my horizons and learn about different lifestyles.

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.

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In The Force

Sporting success: Flying the flag for Singapore, the Home Team

Sporting success: Home Team NSFs Noah Lim, Nufail Rayan and Ethan Poh share the secrets behind their athletic achievements.

TEXT AND PHOTOS: NOAH LIM AND SPF

SCDF and SPF servicemen did the country proud at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia. On top of their NS commitments and duties, they trained vigorously and won medals in their respective events.

We caught up with CPL Noah Lim, SC/Cpl Nufail Raiyan Bin Abu Bakar and SC/Sgt Ethan Poh to find out how they maintained their peak performance for the games, while serving their NS commitments.

CPL (NSF) NOAH LIM

Emergency Medical Technician, Alexandra Fire Station

How does it feel to win the gold medal in the SEA Games gold thrice (in 2019, 2021, and 2023)?

I feel proud to do my part for Singapore. I know that this is just the beginning and there is so much more I want to achieve for my country. Representing Singapore in the sport I love is such a huge honour. I also want to be a role model to show others what is possible, with some discipline and hard work.

How did you balance your training and NS commitments?

Juggling shift duties and jiu-jitsu training can be challenging at times. I I did my best to manage my time carefully, maximising my training time on my off days.

We heard that you dislocated your little finger just before the 2023 SEA Games. What kept you going during the competition?

Life is unpredictable and some things are really beyond our control. The accident was beyond my control, but I focused on doing my best in what I could control.

My favourite analogy: walking a plank 10cm off the ground requires the same set of actions as walking a plank across two buildings. The pressure may feel greater in your mind, but the actions are the same.  Focus on your training and preparation as usual, and there is no reason why you cannot achieve more.

What have you learned from competing in jiu-jitsu at an international level?

I’ve learnt how to strategise and plan ahead. I have also adopted a growth mindset, which encourages me to learn new techniques, while focusing on what is important.

SC/CPL NUFAIL RAIYAN BIN ABU BAKAR

Protective Security Command (ProCom); Silver, Men’s Field Hockey

How has your experience as a ProCom officer influenced your performance or mindset during competitions?

It’s given me a greater sense of discipline, determination and focus. Another value that applies both to NS and sports training is resilience – to always give my best in everything I do, and to never stop trying. I believe that all the hard work I’ve put in will pay off at the end of the day, be it for myself, my team, my fellow officers or members of the public.

How did you balance your responsibilities as a ProCom officer with your SEA Games training schedule?

It was a challenge to maintain a balance between my work and training, not to mention family time. Managing my responsibilities as an officer while dedicating time for training requires good time management skills. Fortunately, my supervisors, coaches and family were always understanding and supportive of my decisions.

I learnt the importance of prioritising my duties and responsibilities while seeking balance in my pursuits outside of work. I also learnt the value of taking care of my physical and emotional well-being.

To my family, friends, fellow officers and teammates, thank you so much for your continuous support. I couldn’t have done it without your words of encouragement.

SC/SGT ETHAN POH

Public Transport Security Command (TransCom); Gold, Men’s Table Tennis (Team); Bronze, Men’s Table Tennis (Double)

How do you feel about winning two medals this year?

I’m definitely happy. It’s a privilege and an honour to win medals for Singapore at major sporting events. The Team Gold Medal means a lot to us as the last time Singapore won, it was in 2015. I’m glad to be part of the winning team this year.

How do you juggle your NS responsibilities and your sporting career?

I’m a staff officer at TransCom and it takes good time management skills to fulfil both my duties and train for competitions. I train after work every evening. It’s essential to have supportive colleagues, especially during the competition period. They covered my duties and even followed my matches closely, cheering me on. My achievements wouldn’t be possible without them!

How has your NS experience helped your development as an athlete?

During my Police Officers’ Basic Course at the Home Team Academy (HTA), I was able to take a break from the sport. The SPF values I learned during my course helped me make a positive change in how I approached training and competition.

I’ll be completing my NS this year and it’s been a really fulfilling two years, from my time at the HTA to TransCom. I’m thankful for the many lessons I’ve learnt throughout the policing journey.

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In The Force

SGT(V) Valora Wong’s balancing act of commitment

By mastering the art of balance in her commitments, SGT(V) Valora not only excelled in each of her roles but also set an inspiring example. 

TEXT AND PHOTOS: HOME TEAM VOLUNTEER NETWORK

In a world where time is a limited and precious resource, making the decision to give back to the community is no small feat. Today, we focus on Sergeant (Volunteer) or SGT(V) Valora Wong Zhen Wen, a shining example of unwavering commitment, as she navigates a unique balancing act of being a new mom, a final-year university student, and a recent graduate of the 111th-intake of the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC).

THE JUGGLING ACT OF A NEW RECRUIT

SGT(V) Valora was posted to Ang Mo Kio South Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) and began her VSC journey while juggling multiple responsibilities, in the face of a rigorous training schedule that required mastering various skills such as knowledge on police procedures, firearms handling, and first aid.

Imagine juggling twice-weekly evenings and selected Saturday training sessions, final-year university exams, and the delicate, around-the-clock duties of taking care a 4-month-old. For many, it would seem like an impossible feat. But for SGT(V) Valora, it was a mission she willingly accepted.  SGT(V) Valora was a former regular in the Singapore Armed Forces. This period of her life was marked by numerous experiences, but what she truly cherished was the profound sense of camaraderie that permeated every aspect of military life. She discovered a deep-seated passion for marksmanship.

Joining the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as a VSC officer offers a similar sense of camaraderie, akin to the military, while introducing a new dimension of service to the community. Being a VSC officer gives her the opportunity to witness, experience, and actively participate in the real-life activities of law enforcement.

Overcoming a Challenging Moment

During SGT(V) Valora’s Police Contact Tactics assessment, she had to take down an instructor instead of a fellow trainee, which she was usually assigned to. It was a scenario that required her physical strength and quick judgement.

To her surprise, the instructor commented that she did well, despite encountering such a scenario for the first time. Not only was it a compliment to SGT(V) Valora; but it also validated the hard work and mental preparation she put into her training routines.

The Lessons That Echo in Everyday Life

Among the numerous skills and insights SGT(V) Valora acquired, teamwork and vigilance were the most invaluable. “We constantly look out for each other and be ready to act accordingly and effectively,” said SGT(V) Valora as she embarked on her duties. “I reminded myself to treat every situation seriously, then assess and react accordingly.”

A Calling to Serve: Your Turn to Join

By mastering the art of balance in her commitments, SGT(V) Valora not only excelled in each of her roles but also set an inspiring example. “You can do your part for the community by joining the Force, to prevent, detect, and deter crime,” said SGT(V) Valora.

“There will be challenges, but the sense of fulfillment is unmatched.”

Do you want to join as an SPF volunteer? Discover the Home Team Volunteer Network today! You can also check out our Instagram and Facebook Page, @htvolunteers, to learn about our 11 schemes. Learn more on how you can make a difference in your community now!

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In The Force

Embracing NS: 2LT Nihaal Manaf’s personal odyssey from recruit to leader

2LT Nihaal Manaf’s NS journey is about overcoming challenges, adapting to new environments, and emerging stronger from the process.

TEXT & PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

Imagine returning home for your National Service (NS) stint after studying abroad for years. 2LT Nihaal Manaf thought that he could adapt well to NS. After all, he had lived in a bustling hostel during his overseas studies and was no stranger to living with others and following structured routines.

Little did he expect that NS would bring about an extra dimension – batchmates from diverse backgrounds who came from different walks of life. As Nihaal got more comfortable with his new “family” in SCDF, he gradually adapted to NS.

This is his inspiring story.

THE WAITING GAME

Anticipation and various unknowns filled Nihaal’s mind, in the months he waited for his NS enlistment letter. As he waited for enlistment day, Nihaal felt physically and mentally unprepared for the journey ahead.

GRADUAL REINTEGRATION

Before enlistment, Nihaal’s interactions were mainly limited to his close family members and friends. Compared to this period of relative isolation, the communal nature of NS took him a while to get used to. Conversations buzzed around him in languages that he could not understand well. As Nihaal thought about the friends that he had left behind, loneliness crept in. It was a reminder that adjustments take time.

FACING CHALLENGES HEAD ON

Two challenges loomed ahead for Nihaal: Physical fitness and regimentation. Thanks to the support of his family and a small circle of friends, Nihaal found the strength to meet these challenges head on. As the days became weeks, Nihaal grew more confident and comfortable around his batchmates.

THE ESSENCE OF NS

Nihaal has come a long way and learnt many valuable lessons. “The key to doing well in NS lies in consistent mental preparation and progressive physical training,” he said.

“Thriving amid discomfort and stretching  personal limits gradually fosters resilience. Throughout the process, it is also crucial to remain positive, to quash any self-doubt and focus on the greater purpose of National Service.”

Today, Nihaal is a 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) who leads his own platoon. He has served as a frontliner, leader, and now, a guide to newcomers – Nihaal’s journey is one of many inspiring stories of how NS can transform lives.

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In The Force

Supporting a well-oiled SCDF machine

These Corporate Services Hub National Servicemen perform a crucial, if often overlooked, role in ensuring SCDF operations run like clockwork. Here’s how.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: THOMAS LIM

For every successful Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) event or exercise, there is a team of dedicated National Servicemen working tirelessly in the background to provide essential support services.

Three Corporate Services Hub (CSH) National Servicemen share with us what their vocations mean to them, and how they support SCDF frontliners.

Meet SGT1 Lioh Yong Hao and LCP Raden Zulfiqkar Bin Zulkifri, who are both with CSH (West), and SGT1 Aloysius Ng who serves with CSH (East). Earlier in March, they supported Exercise Northstar XI in their capacities as a supply and operations assistant (SGT1 Lioh), an info-communications assistant (LCP Raden) and a provost officer (SGT1 Ng).

MAKING THE MISSION POSSIBLE

The massive exercise – which simulated a terrorist attack on Jurong Island – involved over 300 personnel from multiple agencies including the SCDF, Singapore Police Force, and Singapore Armed Forces, as well as other public and private stakeholders like the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Ministry of Health, ExxonMobil and Keppel Infrastructure.

“In addition to working closely with the other stakeholders, our SCDF colleagues needed to be on-site for long hours to prepare and execute the exercise,” explains SGT1 Lioh. “Be it exercise equipment, refreshments or transportation needs, we support our frontliners behind the scenes so that they can focus on the mission.”

ENSURING SMOOTH OPERATIONS

LCP Raden (right) guiding his juniors on the operation of a portable sound system, in support of parade rehearsals.

During Exercise Northstar XI, SGT1 Ng and his team were asked to simulate a Tactical HQ scenario where command vehicles were deployed. “We are responsible for safeguarding the command vehicles, which is of critical importance to overall command and control of SCDF’s frontline operations during a major incident,” he describes.

 LCP Raden, whose day-to-day tasks include routine checks, maintenance of info-comms equipment and attending to info-comm and technological issues, notes that such major exercises can require significant technical and communications support.

“During these major events, our team had to ensure that all communications channels between the event organisers and working party ran smoothly,” he said.

Their support is not limited to large exercises. During recruit enlistments, graduation parades and the National Day Parade (NDP), LCP Raden and his team can be found setting up portable mixing consoles, speakers and other audio and visual equipment: “For events such as parades and ceremonies, we have to be very alert to visual and audio cues to ensure that the music is in sync with certain event sequences. This requires quite a fair bit of concentration and situational awareness,” he says.

The 2022 NDP was also a busy occasion for SGT1 Ng: “During the NDP, my team and I were stationed at Kallang Fire Station to prepare the Command Vehicles for a Tactical HQ deployment, in case there was a major emergency. After securing a perimeter for the command post, we remained on high alert to safeguard all personnel and equipment on site.”

Adds LCP Raden: “I always thought that CSH only handles routine logistics and communications services that are far removed from other SCDF operations. However, I soon realised that all departments really need to work closely together to conduct our mission — protecting lives and property — effectively.”

This story is based on interviews originally published in Rescue995.

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Close Up In The Force

How We Nabbed a Suspected Serial Shoplifter

Excellent teamwork and quick thinking on the part of these SPF officers proved key to getting the job done.

TEXT & PHOTOS: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

When shopping at the supermarket or mall, we tend to go about our activities without paying much heed to those around us. In fact, not many are aware of the crimes that take place in our midst. According to figures released by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), shop theft cases in Singapore rose by about 22 per cent, from 2,652 cases in 2021 to 3,244 cases in 2022.

To deter theft and apprehend shoplifters, Police National Servicemen (PNSmen) from Clementi Police Division regularly conduct patrols in crime-prone retail areas. PNSmen SSSGT (NS) Elisha Lim, SGT(2) (NS) Zestin Soh, and SGT(1) (NS) Santosh S/O Gunalan were recently deployed on one such patrol as part of their In-Camp Training.

While making their rounds at a supermarket in Clementi, the trio crossed paths with an individual who was wanted by the police for his suspected involvement in a series of shoplifting cases. The suspect had allegedly stolen hair-care products from a supermarket on three occasions between the end of May and early June. The supermarket filed a police report on 10th of June 2023. After an investigation, the suspect’s identity was established.

The officers who were on patrol immediately recognised the suspect as they had been briefed earlier by Community Policing Unit officers from the Clementi Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) to be on the lookout for someone matching his description. They had identified him by his distinctive hair colour, tattoo and facial features.

Rather than rush to make an arrest, the officers maintained their composure and verified the suspect’s identity with the help of Ground Response Force (GRF) officers from Clementi NPC. They continued to monitor him from a distance while pretending to distribute flyers, to avoid alarming him.

“It pays to be alert and watch our surroundings when on patrol,” noted SSSGT (NS) Lim.

Thanks to the seamless planning and coordination between the GRF officers and the PNSmen team, the officers were able to stall the suspect and lead him to a quiet area away from the public eye. The suspect was subsequently interviewed for his suspected involvement in the earlier shop theft cases. This is yet another fine example of how SPF officers effectively fight crime through strong teamwork, dedication and courage.

“I am thankful for the training that keeps us operationally ready and prepared to handle various situations. It reaffirmed my belief that by following a well-prepared shift work plan and patrolling conscientiously, it is possible to make a meaningful difference,” said SGT(2) (NS) Soh.

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In The Force

Ordinary people with an extraordinary mission

These Home Team volunteers who serve with dedication and passion have been recognised for their contributions.

TEXT AND IMAGES: HOME TEAM VOLUNTEER NETWORK

The Home Team gives out the Minister for Home Affairs (MHA) National Day Award annually to a group of individuals, to recognise their outstanding contributions as volunteers. This year, MHA acknowledged seven individuals who have made significant contributions.

Let’s hear from two recipients, Ms Tham Yoke Leng and Mr Nadanasigamani Senthil, on what keeps them motivated to devote their time and effort to helping out with the Home Team.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEANINGFUL CONTRIBUTION TO THE HOME TEAM?

Ms Tham Yoke Leng has been volunteering under the Prison Volunteer – Buddhist Fellowship scheme for 10 years.

Ms Tham: I am a Buddhist Fellowship volunteer and conduct weekly counselling sessions at Selarang Park Complex Prison for the inmates. During these sessions — which are conducted in English —  we aim to share the Buddha’s teachings with the inmates so they can bring positive change and improvement in their lives.

I also share my personal experiences of practising the Buddha’s teachings. This helps the inmates gain insights into the positive effects of embracing compassion and wisdom, and how it can help diminish negative emotions like greed, hatred and delusion.

We also introduce them to the Noble Eightfold Path, as taught by the Buddha, which provides a framework for their journey towards a better life. During the sessions, we include guided mindfulness and awareness meditation to help calm the mind. This helps the inmates to be present in the moment and cultivate gratitude for everything they have.

Mr Senthil: Our Citizens on Patrol (COP) team conducts monthly patrols around our neighbourhood. Our objective is to enhance the safety and security of our residents. Whenever the residents see us wearing our COP vests, it encourages them to share any feedback regarding suspicious activities or gatherings they may have noticed.

We take note of these and will notify the police when necessary. It’s a collaborative effort and we serve as community partners, working hand in hand with the Home Team to contribute to a secure neighbourhood and safer nation.

WHAT HAS MOTIVATED YOU TO KEEP VOLUNTEERING?

Mr Nadanasigamani Senthil has been volunteering with the Citizens on Patrol scheme for eight years.

Mr Senthil: On 16 June 1995, I arrived in Singapore as a work permit holder in the construction industry. I felt blessed to be able to work and live in a country that is known for its safety, security and commitment towards fair laws and equal rights for its diverse population.

Over the years, I embraced the opportunities offered by the Singapore government, and through hard work and dedication, I progressed from a worker to become a Director in a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME).

Even after obtaining Permanent Resident (PR) status and citizenship, I volunteered actively and was driven by both passion and a sense of responsibility to give back to the community that has provided a safe home for my family. I hope that one day my son will follow in my footsteps, becoming a volunteer and serving the nation as the next generation.

Ms Tham: During the sharing sessions, I noticed the inmates’ eagerness to learn and embrace the Buddha’s teachings in their daily lives. Their desire for a happier, more peaceful existence for themselves and their loved ones was evident. One particular inmate, who initially seemed disinterested, transformed over a few weeks, actively seeking ways to improve himself. Witnessing their determination to reform motivates me to support their journey and remind them that they are not alone.

Buddhist Fellowship has received appreciation letters from both inmates and ex-offenders, expressing how much they valued the sharing sessions and the positive impact of the Buddha’s teachings on their lives. Some ex-offenders have even visited the Buddhist Fellowship Centre to deepen their understanding and continue their practice. They also volunteer and help with wholesome group activities, including assisting in homes.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG VOLUNTEERS OR THOSE KEEN ON VOLUNTEERING WITH HOME TEAM?

Ms Tham: Everyone makes mistakes. As a volunteer, avoid judging a person’s mistakes. Instead, keep an open mind and an open heart to accept the inmates for who they are and the errors they have made. Remember, these inmates also possess a loving heart and are not bad people.

Mr Senthil: Volunteering with passion makes the work truly interesting. It is the responsibility of every citizen to actively participate in ensuring our country’s safety and security. By receiving public support and involvement, our Home Team can focus on safeguarding other parts of the nation from internal and external threats.

Relying solely on the Home Team for our safety could leave us vulnerable to our enemies, leading to issues within our community. Threats can happen anywhere. Therefore, we must act as vigilant “third eyes” for the Home Team, promptly providing information to the authorities on any abnormalities or suspicious activities we come across. Strengthening the unity in our multiracial society is vital in securing the well-being and safety of our future generations.

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In The Force

An NSman’s tale of growth

LTA (NS) Sean Loh reveals how his father’s mentorship helped him throughout his National Service (NS) stint.

TEXT: SCDF

PHOTOS: LTA (NS) SEAN LOH

LTA (NS) Sean Loh was the Full-time National Serviceman (NSF) of the Year in 2021. He credits his success to his father, whose mentorship helped him to face the challenges of NS. This also helped LTA (NS) Sean discover the true value of personal growth as he became a young adult. Perhaps most importantly, it forged an unbreakable bond between LTA (NS) Sean and his father.

A BOND FORGED IN THE CRUCIBLE OF SERVICE

LTA (NS) Sean Loh receiving the Best in Knowledge Award during the 21st Rota Commander Course (RCC) Closing Ceremony.

When he was a child, LTA (NS) Sean fondly remembers his father’s captivating tales from his NS days – the tough training, the challenges faced, and the unyielding spirit of the men who face these challenges head-on. During his NS stint, LTA (NS) Sean quickly realised the parallels between his father and himself, as they went through this phase as young men. Both had experienced similar trials and he was glad that he could count on his father’s guidance.

LTA (NS) Sean credits his father’s mentorship, as it has helped him to realise the importance of dedication and the pride of serving others well.

“My father’s guidance played a pivotal role in helping me navigate the challenges of NS. He taught me to view every trial as an opportunity for growth and to remain dedicated to every task, no matter how demanding,” he said.

MENTORSHIP, UNWAVERING SUPPORT AND AN UNBREAKABLE BOND

LTA (NS) Sean experienced a gamut of emotions during NS – joy, apprehension and even sorrow. Throughout, his father offered heartfelt advice and a listening ear. When the opportunity arose for him to defer his NS to further his studies, his father advised him to continue serving as a Rota Commander at Kallang Fire Station. LTA (NS) Sean is glad that he had listened to his father’s advice.

“This was invaluable as it gave me extra time to reflect upon my passions and aspirations. My experiences in the fire station opened my eyes to the impact of saving lives and helping others. It ignited a burning desire within me to continue this mission throughout my life, aspiring to become a doctor and heal those in need,” he added.

For all young men about to embark on their own NS journey, LTA (NS) Sean advises them to face each challenge fearlessly, and to believe in themselves and their goals.

“Adversity is the spark that ignites our growth, and every experience, be it good or bad, has the power to shape us into the best version of ourselves,” LTA (NS) Sean said. He also believes in the importance of people expressing themselves openly. While this may make one vulnerable, this also helps one to discover the people who matter most in life.

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