Close Up Lifestyle

These former convicts now mentor others to prevent re-offending

As part of the Singapore Prison Service’s Desistor Network, the ex-offenders offer friendship and support to newly released inmates looking to forge a better path.



Thrice a week, a small group of cyclists meet at Seletar Aerospace Park. They then cross the island together, covering distances of more than 50km on two wheels.

But this collective — known as Break The Cycle —  is no mere hobbyist group. Founded in 2020, Break The Cycle is part of the Desistor Network launched in April 2023 by Singapore Prison Service (SPS), where 53 agencies work with ex-inmates to create a support ecosystem that steers them away from re-offending. 

During cycling breaks and breakfast sessions, the cyclists chat about work, family, as well as their struggles and hopes for the future. They form a deep bond that often extends beyond cycling. The group’s co-founder, ex-offender Andrew Ong, sums up the clique: “We do life together.”


Andrew Ong founded Break the Cycle, a cycling group for ex-offenders.
Andrew Ong founded Break the Cycle, a cycling group for ex-offenders.

Approximately four in 10 former inmates return to prison within five years of release, according to SPS. Ong is part of a small but growing group of ex-convicts helping others navigate the challenging transition from prison life to reduce recidivism. The 45-year-old himself was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment at the age of 18 for his involvement in a gang fight, though he only served nine months after a successful appeal. He shared that his parents’ divorce drove him to seek a sense of belonging in gangs.  

However, after his release, he slipped back into his old lifestyle of drug consumption. An overdose at the age of 21 proved to be the wake-up call he needed to get clean. He worked hard to build his career and is now the director of partnership and strategic communications at HCSA Community Services — a charitable organisation that helps ex-offenders, abused teenage girls and single parents, among others. Knowing how easy it is to backslide into crime, Ong has been volunteering at church and halfway houses for many years to help others stay the course.

Bruce Mathieu regularly shares his experiences as a former inmate with the public.
Bruce Mathieu regularly shares his experiences as a former inmate with the public.

Such support makes a huge difference, says Bruce Mathieu. The 54-year-old joined a gang at the age of 13, quickly became hooked on heroin — an addiction with which he struggled for 30 years — and was imprisoned five times, serving 20 years in total.

Some 11 years ago while serving his fifth prison stint, he resolved to turn his life around for his then three-year-old daughter. Since his release in 2016, he has been giving talks at schools, organisations and public events, as well as mentoring newly-released inmates as an SPS volunteer. These include Tian Boon Keng, who was featured in the CNA documentary Inside Maximum Security.

“A common misconception about mentoring is that it involves a lot of counselling. But no, it involves being a friend in the true sense of the word — that’s it,” explains Mathieu, who still meets Tian at least once a month, and recently supported him when he shaved his head for Hair For Hope.


David King Thorairajan with mentee Ravin Sadanadan.
David King Thorairajan (left) with mentee Ravin Sadanadan.

While prison life is known to be challenging, life after release from incarceration isn’t necessarily easy, and re-offending does occur. One possible reason for this is that many inmates find that they have fewer job opportunities upon release, especially those without a good education, notes David King Thorairajan, 41, who volunteers at prison chapel services and through prison befriender programmes.

Thorairajan joined a gang in his teens, got involved in violent fights and was imprisoned twice for a total of eight years, enduring 18 strokes of the cane. During his second sentence, he studied hard and completed his N-, O- and A-levels. Upon discharge, he enrolled at the Singapore Management University, graduating with a double major in psychology and human resources. Despite his qualifications, he had difficulty securing a good job, and eventually started his own life coaching and training company in 2012. Over the years, he has engaged, trained and mentored ex-offenders to coach at-risk youth in schools.

Andrew Ong (third from left) with fellow members of Break the Cycle.
Andrew Ong (third from left) with fellow members of Break the Cycle.

Before they can bounce back, get a job or study, they need to deal with their trauma and baggage – the hurt, disappointment, unforgiveness. There needs to be a major overhaul because there are patterns of thinking that need to be broken, otherwise the cycle will keep repeating.

Mathieu adds that drug addictions are hard to break. “Those who have never been addicted to drugs may think (that kicking a habit) is just a case of mind over matter. That is absolutely hogwash. Drugs rewire your whole brain, so that you cannot function without them,” says Mathieu. “It is very easy to fall back into addiction. If you veer off half a degree and don’t pull yourself back, in a matter of time, you will realise you are too far off,” he adds.

Despite these challenges, all three men agree that the most important factor to avoid re-offending is internal change. “People don’t understand that former offenders may have suffered trauma in their lives,” Ong says, adding that many sought solace in gangs because they come from broken families.


Ex-offenders meet up on weekends for Break the Cycle's group cycling outings.
Ex-offenders meet up on weekends for Break the Cycle's group cycling outings.

Mentorship under individuals with similar experiences is a powerful avenue to help ex-convicts resolve their internal conflict and drive positive change.  “Because who better to know their problems than us? We’ve been through it and done that,” reasons Mathieu.

These individuals don’t just relate to their mentees on a personal level; they may also serve as a better sounding board than friends from their past life, who may still be involved in crime. Groups like Break The Cycle provide a safe and accepting community under which ex-offenders can thrive. One such individual is Ravin Sadanadan, whom Thorairajan hired as a coach in his company after mentoring him.

“David coached me to get back on my feet and gave me opportunities to reach out to other youths in need. I was so motivated to work with them and their families that I completed my diploma, degree and masters in psychology,” said Sadanadan, who is now a senior counsellor at a non-profit organisation.

Because who better to know their problems than us? We’ve been through it and done that.

Mentoring former offenders however, is not without its challenges, says Ong. “It’s not like distributing groceries or cleaning someone’s house – you don’t see the outcome immediately. There is a lot of backend work, and mentees can often misunderstand you.”

“You have to understand that these are things they project because of their childhood experiences and things that they are dealing with. You must be thick-skinned and not take it personally,” adds Ong, who recently reconnected and began cycling with a youth he had mentored more than 10 years ago.

Ong maintains that planting the seed of hope can start a positive and powerful cycle of change.

“Some of our cyclists have also volunteered to be befrienders with SPS, journeying with inmates for 12 months upon their release from prison,” he shares.


To help reintegrate former inmates into society upon their release, SPS works with Yellow Ribbon Singapore to offer support for job placement and retention, skills assistance subsidies and other education assistance. SPS also helps inmates to apply for financial assistance and provides addiction treatment to those in need of it. Community support is also extended to them via drop-in centres, self-help groups and befrienders, as well as family programmes and family resource centres to support bonding.

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Made in Singapore, and proud of it

From the latest alternative meats to gadgets that help an ageing population, here are some future-ready innovations that are putting Singapore on the map. 



Contrary to popular belief, “Made in Singapore” isn’t limited to the electronics, aerospace or biomedical sciences industries. Our nation is home to a thriving ecosystem of innovative startups that hope to change consumers’ lives through technology.

These local products all punch above their weight. They aim to address climate change, improve our quality of life and even provide robotic canine companionship. Even everyday items like shoe insoles have been zhng-ed (enhanced) to achieve a new level of safety.

So, the next time you iron your clothes or stir-fry some seafood for dinner, take a closer look at the product’s label – you just might see “Made in Singapore” proudly printed on it.


Who doesn’t love a good chili crab or sambal shrimp? Problem is, global demand for seafood is so high that some types of seafood like shrimp are being fished at an unsustainable rate.

Enter local startup Shiok Meats, which aims to bring delicious, sustainable and healthy seafood to the table in the form of cultivated meat. How does it work? The startup grows stem cells from livestock inside bioreactors or cultivators. The result? Lab-grown shrimp, lobster and crab that tastes just like their wild-caught peers


Photo: Sky Greens Facebook page

To conserve space in land-scarce Singapore, our homes have been built upwards. That same logic has been applied to farming. Sky Greens is the world’s first low-carbon, hydraulically-driven vertical farm.

Rather than being flown or driven into Singapore, your favourite tropical leafy vegetables like cai xin (choy sum) and Chinese cabbage might now be grown just a few blocks away. This means consumers get fresher produce that’s delivered using fewer carbon emissions.


Photo: Singapore Polytechnic

Say hello to SParkle, a pet robot dog that encourages seniors to do their therapy exercises. SParkle is part of a wider system that helps caregivers and therapists remotely monitor seniors’ exercise data.

Rather than looking like something out of the Terminator movies, SParkle is a soft toy that resembles a beagle. It’s equipped with a linked smart dumbbell, glove and gamebox. When tested at a senior activity centre in Ghim Moh, SParkle recorded increased muscle activity among elderly participants — a win for this furry, tech-enabled friend.


Startup Flexosense has developed smart insoles that use sensors to help to detect if a worker falls or trips at the workplace. This could help to enhance safety in the maritime and construction sectors.

Closer to home, Flexosense insoles can also help reduce diabetic foot ulcers. As diabetes patients are less sensitive to pain in their feet, they may unknowingly put too much pressure on foot ulcers, which may worsen and even lead to amputation. The flexible microfluidic sensors in these smart insoles monitor pressure on different parts of the foot. They send the information to a mobile app, so users can be reminded to take a break.


Photo: Philips Singapore Facebook page

Few tasks in the world can be as mind-numbing as ironing your clothes. A collaboration between A*STAR and Philips however, has made it slightly less tedious, thanks to the invention of a polymer known as sol-gel. This material helps the iron glide much more smoothly.

Sol-gel achieves this by dispersing solid nanoparticles in a liquid. This forms a protective coating on your iron, helping to eliminate the creases in dresses, shirts — and of course, your No. 1 uniform.


Photo: Singapore Police Force

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) have also deployed smart, robotic help to perform their mission.

While it’s not quite Robocop, the SPF’s patrol robots at Changi Airport Terminal 4 help to support frontline officers. If an incident occurs, each robot can secure the area before SPF officers arrive and use its camera to provide a 360-degree view of the scene.

The SCDF’s Rover-X is a robotic dog that uses its sensors to help with search and rescue missions. Its robotic legs help it to climb stairs and other rough terrain that wheeled or tracked robots may not be able to traverse.

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Lifestyle On The Edge

Insider guides to Melbourne, Taipei and Bangkok for families

Tired of overrated tourist traps? Frequent fliers and Singaporeans abroad share their top picks for under-the-radar attractions, food and activities for families visiting cities popular among their compatriots.


PHOTOS: Hank’s Café and Bagelry; South Melbourne Market; Koy Gozleme; Murmur; Sovereign Hill; Flickr user Ji Soo Song; Flickr user Iwtt93; Flickr user Ken Marshall; Flickr user Streets of Food; Kate’s Place; Asia Herb Association; Klook; Michelle Ang, Elvin Sng; Audrey Ang

It isn’t surprising that Melbourne, Taipei and Bangkok rank among the top 10 destinations that Singaporeans are interested in visiting, according to data recently released by Google. The cities have long captivated us for an array of reasons, from their tantalising foodie spots to hip haunts for urbanites. While many of such draws feature prominently in the endless scroll of social media feeds, it can be tough to distinguish the must-visit gems from the overhyped and underwhelming locations that locals tend to shun.

At times, it takes an insider to help you sidestep the tourist traps and point you to attractions worth your limited vacation time. To that end, we spoke with three Singaporeans — including residents and a frequent visitor — of these popular cities, who share their favourite spots and practical tips for families. After all, who knows our hearts better than our fellow countrymen?


About the insider: Michelle Ang is a 27-year-old product designer who has been living and working in Melbourne for a year. Though she misses the food and familiarity of home, she enjoys discovering the Australian city’s parks and international foodie offerings.


About the insider: Michelle Ang is a 27-year-old product designer who has been living and working in Melbourne for a year. Though she misses the food and familiarity of home, she enjoys discovering the Australian city’s parks and international foodie offerings.


“While Melbourne is known for its cafes — and correspondingly, its coffee culture — it’s also home to a burgeoning baked goods industry. Check out Hank’s Cafe and Bagelry, in the historic and upscale Armadale suburb that was an important commercial area in the 19th century. Taking pride in bringing “a hearty dose of New York to the leafy streets of Armadale”, Hank’s declares on its website that bagels should be “chewy” and “malty”. Savour these qualities in elevated creations such as the beetroot and gin-cured salmon with herbs, red onion and cream cheese; and the lamb and rosemary meatloaf with pistachio pesto, provolone and cream cheese.”


“Hit up South Melbourne Market — open since 1867 and a treasured landmark for locals — not only for its ubiquitous fresh oysters but also some of the best toasties I’ve ever had at the French-themed Oui Chef! Toastie Bar. Favourites include the classic Croque Monsieur (ham, bechamel (a rich white sauce), chives, comte (French cheese made from cow’s milk) and gruyere (a hard Swiss cheese)), and Saucicson (French salami, raclette (melted Swiss cheese), usto (traditional French mustard)). For a delicious Halal option, head to the iconic Koy Gozleme — gozleme is a crispy stuffed Turkish flatbread — where Turkish mamas hand roll and cook the savoury treats in four flavours: Cheese & Spinach, Mushroom & Veg, Minced Meat and Herbed Chicken.


“Beyond its vibrant culinary scene, Melbourne has no shortage of interesting venues for a fun night out. These include piano bar Murmur, where resident and visiting artistes belt out mostly old-school hits to a lively audience. Cocktails are priced at A$18 from 5-7pm. If you’re after an arty day-time activity, spin the potter’s wheel at one of 2 Mayfield Street’s workshops. Its studio is situated in the peaceful and eclectic Abbotsford suburb, which lends access to plentiful green spaces and the Yarra River.”


“If you’re in town in June or July, you must experience the yearly Winter Wonderlights event at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. This Christmas-themed festival presents a rare opportunity to bask in the Yuletide spirit in the middle of the year, which happens to be when winter falls in the Southern Hemisphere. Expect lights, faux snow, dressed-up storefronts and costumed merrymakers.”


  • Use public transport as it is pretty accessible, and most buses and trains are stroller-friendly. There is also the Free Melbourne City Circle Tram (route No. 35), a “hop on, hop off” service that covers attractions such as St Paul’s Cathedral, SEA Life Melbourne Aquarium and Queen Victoria Market.

  • Score free tickets to an Australian Football League match — a quintessential Aussie experience — under the Kids Go Free programme. The latter grants free access to selected matches for kids aged 14 and under.

  • Go camping with BIG4 Holiday Parks, which offers family-friendly cabin accommodation and camping facilities within easy reach of the city.


About the insider: Elvin Sng, a 42-year-old regional director in the energy industry, has been living in Taipei for five years with his wife and four-year-old son. He relishes the city’s friendly people and the easy access to nature it provides.


About the insider: Elvin Sng, a 42-year-old regional director in the energy industry, has been living in Taipei for five years with his wife and four-year-old son. He relishes the city’s friendly people and the easy access to nature it provides.


“One of Taipei’s top attractions is its street food. While some of the best can be sampled at the OG of night markets, Shilin Night Market, those seeking a gastronomic adventure might want to head to the slightly smaller Ningxia Night Market. Here, you’ll find Michelin Bib Gourmand-rated Liu Yu Zi, which is famous for its egg yolk taro cake — deep-fried taro paste-filled pastries topped with salted egg yolk and pork floss. Don’t miss Yuan Huan Pien Oyster Egg Omelette, which uses Tainan oysters known for their plumpness and sweetness, and are drizzled in a homemade sweet-spicy sauce.”


“Speaking of adventures, Yangmingshan National Park is known for its nature trails with lots of manageable options for families and those who want to take it easy. The 2.4km Qingtiangang Circular Trail, for instance, is a particularly scenic and relaxing route. I took a walk there with my wife a week before she gave birth to our son, and we had a really nice time.”


“You can glimpse Taiwan’s richly-layered past in Taipei’s historic parts. A 30-minute drive from the city takes you to Heping Island, which is connected by a bridge to the main island, and home to the ruins of a church built in 1626 by Spanish missionaries. The island is also presided over by an ancient fort constructed by the Spanish, who were later driven out by Dutch colonisers, as well as old buildings that can be traced back to the Japanese Occupation. Those keen to discover Taiwan’s pottery heritage should head to the quaint Yingge Old Street, where they’ll find a ceramics museum, pottery workshops and traditional teahouses.”


  • Take the MRT, an affordable, reliable and efficient way to get around, even with little ones on hand. Plus, children under the age of six travel for free. The rail operator even provides umbrellas on rainy days!

  • Check out themed cafes, for which Taipei is famous. Apart from those inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Moomin and Gudetama, many kiddos will no doubt be tickled by the Modern Toilet Restaurant, which will bring their toilet humour to another level.

  • Use Google Translate when hailing taxis — which are easy to find and inexpensive — as few cab drivers speak English. You may also want to ensure your destination is saved to your phone, ideally in Traditional Chinese which is commonly used in Taiwan.

  • Download the Halal TW app by Taiwan’s Chinese Muslim Association. It’s available for iOS and Android users and is handy for discovering Halal and Muslim venues in the country, including restaurants, hotels, mosques and prayer rooms.


About the insider: Audrey Ang is a HR manager in her late-40s who travels to Bangkok some four times yearly. She loves the affordable and value-added experiences in Thailand, and skilled professionals — including chefs and massage therapists — who are truly passionate about what they do.


About the insider: Audrey Ang is a HR manager in her late-40s who travels to Bangkok some four times yearly. She loves the affordable and value-added experiences in Thailand, and skilled professionals — including chefs and massage therapists — who are truly passionate about what they do.


“Food-wise, there’s more to Bangkok than just the usual Pad Thai and pineapple fried rice. A lesser-known yet delicious street food delicacy is duck noodles in a comforting broth that comes complete with duck blood pudding — try the one from Siah Duck Noodle at Rama IV Road. Another hearty meal can be found at Rung Rueang Pork Noodles at Soi Sukhumvit 26. The noodles here are light, silky and super delicious.”


“Bangkok is home to a plethora of creative contemporary cafes and dining concepts. Prepare to be surprised as you put your tastebuds in the good hands of Pikun “Kate” Wangsantia of Kate’s Place, a supper club hidden behind a bookshelf on the second floor of a shophouse. The latter also hosts a noodle shop. True to its private dining roots, Kate’s Place serves what the boss’ mood dictates. Thankfully, her local-inspired dishes have been described as comforting and uplifting.”


“For relaxation, Thai spa group Asia Herb Association, which has three conveniently located branches, always hits the spot with great service plus a welcoming and clean atmosphere. It specialises in the traditional Thai “Herbal Ball” massage that uses a warm compress filled with natural herbs. Register as a ‘family member’ and earn points for every visit — these can be redeemed for more massages.”


“If you like markets and have already visited the well-known Chatuchak, try Jodd Fairs, which is sprawled between Central Rama 9 shopping mall and the Unilever building at Rama IX Road. This night market offers a slew of interesting things to eat and purchase, including vintage clothing and customisable handbags. I do enjoy the Insta-worthy XL Leng Zapp Volcano Ribs from Diaw Maekhlong Restaurant. The dish’s name is a misnomer as it features stacked pork spinal bones (not ribs) served in a moreish sour-spicy soup. There are also quite a few Halal options, such as fresh barbecued seafood, cute character pancakes and fried snacks among the plethora of stalls.”


  • Consider apartment-hotels or serviced apartments, which are generally equipped with facilities such as a kitchenette, and washers and dryers for laundry. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 15 per cent off the best flexible rate at Modena by Fraser Bangkok Hotel Residences. The same discount applies to Fraser Suites Sukhumvit Bangkok, which also offers a complimentary breakfast for one.

  • Don’t relinquish date night. Many top hotels offer guests babysitting services through accredited partners. Enquire about them at reception.

  • Bring a baby carrier if you’re travelling with an infant or toddler, as Bangkok roads aren’t exactly stroller friendly.


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Food Spy Lifestyle

Meet the hawker chefs bringing 5-star food to the heartlands

Hawker chefs: Their culinary ventures are our gain, as they add even more variety to Singapore’s unique culinary scene.



Hawker culture has long been at the heart of Singapore’s culinary culture. It’s no wonder that it became the country’s first element on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

From renegade street stalls in the 1800s to the first hawker centres – Chomp Chomp Food Centre, Block 51 Old Airport Road and Tiong Bahru Market – in the 1970s, this continues to evolve today.

An increasing number of chefs have been setting up stalls in hawker centres, perhaps inspired by the “unpretentious good food” ethos. From the ex-Cicheti chef who started a western stall at Bukit Merah selling S$7.80 Spaghetti Carbonara, to Raffles Hotel’s former dim sum head chef turned chee cheong fun hawker, here are our top finds for standout meals that won’t leave a hole in your pocket.


3752 Bukit Merah Central, Singapore, Singapore

S$7.80 for a plate of Spaghetti Carbonara may seem pricey for hawker fare, but when it’s cooked by an ex-Chicheti chef, you know you’re in for something special.

Located at Maddox Canteen in Bukit Merah Central, Eightisfy Western is headed by Chef CK, who was in charge of pastas at the famous trattoria before coming out to serve his local western fare. Expect classics like Chicken Chop, Grilled Fish and Burgers, all featuring his own marinade and crowd pleasers like the crunchy, battered Spam Fries. But one must try the pasta of course – picking from savoury offerings of Bacon Carbonara, Mushroom Aglio Olio to Tomato Ragu to satisfy any craving.


Photo: Chef Leung's Facebook page

Blk 335 Smith Street #02-096, Singapore, Singapore

Chef Leung Tze Cham worked for 30 years as a dim sum master at the illustrious kitchens of Raffles Hotel, before leaving for China to start his prawn farm. After the pandemic affected his business, he returned to Singapore and opened his own Chee Cheong Fun hawker stall at Chinatown Complex.

His menu features handmade rice noodle rolls that are soft and light, wrapping premium ingredients selected by the chef. He achieves the texture with house-milled rice batter that takes three hours to make. He then tops this with his addictive peanut and sesame sauce.


Photo: Cat in the Hat Instagram

505 Beach Road #01-106 (Army market)

Nothing beats having established chefs brightening up our hawker centres with their pretty bakes. Case in point: Former hotel pastry chef Ellis Ng, who opened Cat in The Hat at Golden Mile Food Centre in March this year.

Ng offers other dainty French pastries such as Caneles, Financiers and Tarts on her menu, all freshly-baked daily. There are local twists to be found with their Lychee Rose (Bandung) tart and Ovaltine Chocolate tart. The best part? With Madeleines starting at S$1.50 and lemon meringue tarts at S$3, these sweet indulgences won’t break the bank.


Photo: A Noodle Story Facebook page

1 Wallich St, Singapore #B2-32, Singapore, Singapore

A ramen stall that’s been listed on the Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2016? They’re definitely doing something right. Maybe it’s because chefs Gwern Khoo and Ben Tham have seen the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants such as Waku Ghin, Saint Pierre and Iggy’s, and cracked the code on what makes good dishes remarkable.

Expect their Singapore-Style Ramen to be a flavour bomb with servings of juicy Shrimp Wantons, braised Pork Belly Char Siew, and crunchy Ngoh Hiang (spiced meat roll). Their new Smoky Char Siew Wanton Noodle and Nyonya Curry Chicken Noodles look set to be winners too.


Photo: Meat 4 Meat Instagram

228 East Coast Road, Singapore 428925

71 Ubi Crescent, Singapore 408571

Fancy a Beef Wellington served in a coffee shop? Then you probably appreciate chef Jimmy Teo’s aim to bring items usually found in high-priced restaurants to the masses.

The co-founder of Meet 4 Meat (with chef Gerald Lau), he brings over 20 years of experience working in professional kitchens like his stint as chef of Wooloomooloo Steakhouse at Swissotel. There are two outlets located along East Coast Road and Ubi Crescent. Each of his menu offerings is thoughtfully cooked with a premium experience in mind. Items like the Marinated New Zealand Lamb Cutlets are done with his secret sauce and pasta dishes are all handmade.


Photo: Mat Western Facebook page

122 Bedok North St 2, Singapore, Singapore

This halal stall is stirring up fans with their hefty pizzas. Frenchman Umar Fabrice, who’s a Muslim convert, and Singaporean Hidir Kasim opened Mat Western after years in professional kitchens, so one can expect a keen eye and extra flair when ordering from the stall.

The pizzas there, for example, use doppio zero flour – the finest milled variety, and feature freshly-made dough everyday. On top of traditional Italian classics, one can also enjoy options with Asian ingredients for a satisfying familiar taste. Lemak Chicken Pizza and Tom Yam Pepperoni Pizza? We’re sold.


Photo: Miss Tam Chiak

335 Smith Street #02-215 Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre

Located in Chinatown Complex Food Centre, this chicken rice stall is helmed by Hong Kong-born chef Wong Keung. Using kampung chicken for a firmer bite, the poultry is poached in a savoury five-hour broth made of dried scallops and octopus.

The result? Generous chicken pieces that feature a bright buttery-yellow skin, slippery with juice yet with a satisfying chew. The soy sauce chicken variety features a similar texture, but a less powerful flavour than the specialty-broth variety. If you’re looking to try a new spin of a national classic, you won’t be disappointed here.

Without a doubt, it’s to Singapore’s benefit that these chefs have joined the hawker fraternity. They not only expand the meaning of what it means to be a hawker, but also open up interest in those wanting to enter the food and beverage industry. Hopefully, this new breed of entrepreneurs will inspire a new generation of hawkers and uphold the legacy of affordable, delicious food for a long time to come.


If you’re craving good hawker fare after visiting a HomeTeamNS clubhouse, you’re in luck. Several hawker centres are just a short drive away from HomeTeamNS clubhouses:

HomeTeamNS Khatib: Chong Pang Market & Food Centre (7 min drive), Yishun Park Hawker Centre (6 min drive)

HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier: Balestier Market (4 min drive), Whampoa Food Centre (5 min drive)

HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok: Choa Chu Kang Market & Food Centre (7 min drive)

HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir: Bedok Reservoir Food Centre (4 min drive), Bedok 538 Market and Food Centre (5 min drive)

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Close Up Lifestyle

This teacher became a HomeTeamNS volunteer — and got schooled!

Working on the development of the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse proved to be a lesson in patience and humility for LTC (NS) Bryan Chao.



For the past 20 years, LTC (NS) Bryan Chao has taught Physical Education at East Spring Primary School. As someone who believes that “academic excellence isn’t the only thing that matters,” he encourages his students to develop their character and values. To inculcate independence, for instance, he advises the children: “In life, there are two groups of people — those who work out their own problems and experience personal growth in the process, and the ones who always go to people with questions, expecting them to solve their issues. Don’t live like the latter!”

While he is accustomed to dispensing such wisdom to his young charges, the 43-year-old educator has also been on the receiving end of life lessons, in his role as a HomeTeamNS volunteer. Having served his National Service (NS) as a fire officer at the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Bryan decided to “contribute more to the nation” by joining the HomeTeamNS East Development Committee in late 2021. His first task, which was helping to manage the design and construction of HomeTeamNS’ newest clubhouse, HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir, proved challenging to the teacher who usually has the answers.  


Bryan (far right) with his fellow HomeTeamNS volunteers.
Bryan (far right) with his fellow HomeTeamNS volunteers.

Like many other projects that faced COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the construction of the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse was fraught with setbacks and delays. Seeing it to completion was an uphill slog, but Bryan notes that his fellow committee members demonstrated remarkable forbearance and composure under fire. This was particularly eye-opening for the HomeTeamNS volunteer, who by his own admission tends to be short on patience.

He credits his Development Committee’s Co-Chairman, SUPT (NS) Jim Tan, for helping the team overcome numerous obstacles that stood in the way of the clubhouse’s launch. He shares that the leader employed charisma and decisiveness to foster cohesive teamwork among the committee, as well as liaise with various partners involved in the clubhouse’s development and construction.

“Jim was able to make the tough decisions with such patience and humility that everyone was convinced to take his lead,” Bryan recalls. We thus managed to pull through and make the Bedok Reservoir Clubhouse a reality.”

Bryan with his mentor LTC (NS) Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Kadir (right).
Bryan (left) with his mentor LTC (NS) Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Kadir.


Bryan cites patience, humility and empathy as important virtues, especially for volunteers such as himself, as they interact with the many people they serve. “People tend to respond better when we show that we’re listening and care for them,” he adds.

Tensions can run high when you’re required to engage with various stakeholders. Thankfully, the married man can also draw on his NS experience with the Home Team to navigate challenging situations with grace. In that respect, he cites his fellow HomeTeamNS volunteer, LTC (NS) Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Kadir, Commander for the 22 Public Shelter Resilience Unit, as a positive influence. Recounting an incident whereby a dissatisfied Home Team NSman had raised a concern due to administrative issues during his reservist call-up, he shares that Faizal managed to resolve the problem by keeping his cool, and calmly convincing the affected party that he would help. “Despite his high rank and level of experience, Faizal does not throw his weight around to get things done, which is an attribute I admire immensely,” he says, in reference to his mentor’s hands-on approach.

And how does he personally deal with similar difficult encounters as a HomeTeamNS volunteer? Well, a good dose of humour can come in handy, says Bryan. “From time to time, we casually share our experiences with one another within the committee. Such exchanges help us to balance our emotions, have a good laugh together, and most importantly, move on!”.


Bryan with his primary school students.
Bryan with his primary school students.

Despite some frustrating moments that can accompany the role, Bryan says that being a HomeTeamNS volunteer has made his life fuller. “Working behind the scenes in the Development Committee, I’ve learnt that it takes a complex operation to get things up and running like clockwork. Individually, we can put in more effort to make the gears tick more smoothly,” he explains.

Motivated to continue making a positive difference in the organisation, Bryan has stepped up to the plate as Vice Chairperson of Bedok Reservoir HomeTeamNS’ Executive Committee, where he proudly leads a group of like-minded volunteers. And he hasn’t forgotten the values of patience, humility and altruism he has developed over the years and — in turn — hopes to impart to the fellow volunteers under his wing. “Being privileged to be placed in a position of authority, I want to use the opportunity to serve others and help create a better environment for everyone at HomeTeamNS,” he concludes.

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.

Food Spy Lifestyle

We tried 10 innovative mooncakes for Mid-autumn Festival 2023

Do their flavours live up to their fancy names? Find out in our reviews of these baked and snowskin delights, assessed according to creativity and quality of presentation, ingredients and flavours.



It’s a tradition to eat mooncakes during the Mid-autumn Festival, which is celebrated annually on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, and falls on 29 September this year. The event sees people attending “moon viewing” (the moon is apparently brightest during this time) parties in lantern-lit gardens, where they sip tea and savour mooncakes. These pastries are shaped like the full moon, to symbolise reunion.

Restaurants and bakeries are getting increasingly creative in their choice of mooncake fillings, which — beyond the traditional lotus paste — may incorporate local twists and premium ingredients such as truffles. To help you narrow it down, we sampled a variety of baked and snowskin mooncakes and classified them according to creativity, quality of ingredients, presentation, and most importantly, taste. Here are our top picks for 2023.


For the health conscious: Bi Luo Chun Tea Lotus Seed Paste from Si Chuan Dou Hua (Halal-certified)

Recognising that Singaporeans are becoming increasingly health-conscious, Si Chuan Dou Hua is offering low-sugar mooncakes this year. Furthermore, your purchase backs a good cause. Besides working with Extraordinary People (a charity that supports individuals with special needs) for the design of the mooncake gift box and fabric bag, the restaurant also hires differently-abled persons to help assemble the boxes. Tea connoisseurs won’t be disappointed by the new Bi Luo Chun Tea Lotus Seed Paste mooncake. The lotus paste is elevated with a generous infusion of the world-famous biluochun green tea from Suzhou, China, which results in a subtle floral finish with a slightly gritty texture.

From $36 for a box of two.

For the discerning: Yam with Black Sesame and Shredded Coconut from Shang Palace

Shangri-La Singapore has been a go-to for generations of mooncake connoisseurs as well as young couples looking to impress their in-laws. As it turns out, it’s not just the hotel’s more traditional mooncakes that boast refined presentation and taste. Take, for example, this new addition to its baked collection, which is presented in an elegant three-tier jewellery box in a choice of three colours. The golden-brown pastry skin makes a great first impression too — it’s delicately thin and distinctly aromatic. Inside, moist yet not gooey yam paste is studded with coarsely-shredded coconut that provides texture and depth of flavour. Finally, a layer of black sesame paste in the centre lends a pleasantly nutty note.

From $84 for four.

For the adventurous: Assam Tea with Lemon, Mung Bean and Raisin from Jade Restaurant

This year, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore presents its Jade Signatures Tea Series baked mooncakes in an elongated red or teal gift box adorned with peony and peacock motifs. There’s also the option to purchase a cannister of TWG Fullerton Grand Tea in matching colours to pair with your mooncakes. The standout in this series of four flavours — which include Tie Guan Yin with Orange and Apricot; Green Tea with Multigrain Brown Sugar and Hongyu Black Tea with Pomelo, Red Date and Pine Nut — is the Assam Tea with Lemon, Mung Bean and Raisin. While its combination of ingredients may seem unusual, they translate into a well-balanced and nuanced flavour profile. Under the wafer-thin baked skin is a silky-smooth paste that boasts top notes of a full-bodied assam tea, peppered with a dash of bright tamarind and citrus flavours, while raisin bits add a pleasant bite and subtle sweetness.

$86 for four (25 per cent off till 18 September for selected credit cards).

For truffle fans: Low-Sugar Chestnut with Cashew Nuts and Truffle from Cherry Garden

Mooncakes most commonly feature lotus seed or red bean paste as the main ingredient. This year, Mandarin Oriental Singapore’s Cantonese restaurant Cherry Garden bucks the trend by introducing a new baked creation made from chestnut paste with reduced sugar instead. These are packed in individual tins, which are housed in matching ivory or red trinket boxes embellished with floral embroidery. A distinctive aroma of truffles (of the fungi, not chocolate variety) emanates from the golden-brown pastry as soon as its packaging is unwrapped. This rich ingredient lifts — instead of overpowers — the otherwise dense and earthy chestnut paste, which gets its crunch from the inclusion of coarsely-chopped cashew nuts.

From $48 for two. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 35 per cent off all mooncakes from Mandarin Oriental Singapore. Other flavours include the Snow Skin Lychee Pineapple with Pine Nuts and the Baked Oriental Beauty Tea with Ginger Red Date.   

For fashionistas: Lychee White Lotus Paste from W Singapore – Sentosa Cove

True to form, W Singapore – Sentosa Cove’s foray into mooncakes delivers the standard of style we’ve come to expect from this luxury resort. The treats are packaged in embossed mooncake-shaped handbags designed with a gold-tone turn-lock, top handle and detachable strap. Aesthetics aside, the mooncakes seem a tad too small to justify their price, which leans towards the higher end, and their red-hued baked skin is a little thick. While the lychee white lotus paste is fragrant and smooth, it could do with the addition of melon seeds for textural contrast.

From $118 for a box of four.


For dessert enthusiasts: Mini Snowskin Cheesecake from Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant

Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium never fails to pique our interest with their novel snowskin mooncake creations. And being cheesecake aficionados, we were naturally intrigued by this sweet treat inspired by the classic New York cheesecake. Each pastel yellow snowskin mooncake is filled with white lotus paste that encases a cream cheese praline. Though the latter isn’t quite cheesy enough, it blends well with the fragrant snowskin and smooth lotus paste and has a melt-in-your-mouth quality. It’s worth purchasing in a gift set of six assorted flavours as the perfect after-dinner dessert to share — or not.

From $76 for six.

For those seeking the familiar: Peanut Butter Snow from PAUL Singapore

French bakery and brasserie PAUL Singapore is known for familiar yet delicious snowskin mooncake flavours such as mango, chocolate and pistachio. These are presented in a striking red tin and thermal carrier to ensure that they stay chilled. Our favourite variant in the assortment of four flavours — a creamy combination of slightly savoury peanut butter and sweet lotus paste — is particularly addictive and was wolfed down in seconds. The peanut butter, which fills a chocolate truffle in the centre, is reminiscent of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and just as moreish.

$72 for four.

For the young at heart: Popping Candy Truffle with Dragon Fruit Lotus Paste from Mdm Ling Bakery (Halal-certified)

Founded by millennials, Mdm Ling Bakery is known for its wallet-friendly, quality bakes that marry old-school recipes and local flavours with irreverent surprises, which is evident in its range of mooncakes. Not least in its new Snowskin Fruity Truffle Mooncakes collection, with variants that include the Yuzu Truffle with Mung Bean Paste, Lychee Truffle with Mung Bean Paste, and Peach and Passion Fruit Truffle with Dragon Fruit Lotus Paste packed in a floral tin. Of the four flavours in each set, the Popping Candy Truffle with Dragon Fruit Lotus Paste is a standout, with its semi-sweet, mildly citrus filling that doesn’t crowd the palate. Those who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s — as well as kids — will get a kick out of the mooncake’s bubblegum pink-and-blue truffle filling that contains popping candy. A fun treat, if not slightly gimmicky.

$76 for four.

For durian lovers: Superfood Snowskin Durian Mooncakes from FORBIDDEN (Halal-certified)

Snowskin mooncakes are meant to be stored in the freezer and slightly thawed (not for too long, or they will get gooey) before consumption to ensure optimal texture and freshness — as per instruction from the various restaurants — and this one is no exception. Though cutting into these treats takes a bit of effort, the reward is a rich ice-cream-like dessert that offers true melt-in-the-mouth decadence for any durian lover. According to FORBIDDEN, the fruit are sourced directly from the hills of Raub in Pahang, Malaysia. Each classic metal tin contains two varieties: Mao Shan Wang durian encased in acai-infused snowskin and coconut snowskin filled with D24 durian. The rich, bittersweet notes of the durian fillings really shine after 15 minutes of thawing, which also makes for the ideal snowskin texture. Though neither “superfood” flavour left much of an impression, the pulpy fillings sure hit the spot.

From $95 for four (up to 25 per cent off).

For those with a penchant for local flair: “Ondeh Ondeh” Pandan Gula Melaka with Grated Coconut from Crowne Plaza Changi Airport

Having been named World’s Best Airport Hotel in 2023, it’s no surprise that Crowne Plaza Changi Airport chose to reference its identity in its mooncake box design. Featuring laser-cut orchid motifs and gold-tone airplane-shaped drawer knobs, the midnight blue trinket box holds a quartet of assorted snowskin mooncakes. These include the Teochew Orh Nee Taro Lotus with Ginkgo Nuts, Pulut Hitam Roasted Dark Glutinous Rice with Coconut Cream, and Black Sesame Paste with Peanut Crunch and Gold Dust. Rounding off the four is our top pick, the Ondeh Ondeh Pandan Gula Melaka with Grated Coconut, which shines with its chewy snowskin in a banana-yellow shade, and conceals a moist lotus paste whose green hue comes from pandan extract. Grated coconut steeped in gula melaka perfectly recreates the flavours of its namesake traditional kueh.

$80 for four (up to 40 per cent off).


It was a true struggle to determine my favourite mooncakes among those that made it to this top 10 list. But at the end of the day, it is Crowne Plaza Changi Airport’s “Ondeh Ondeh” Pandan Gula Melaka with Grated Coconut and Assam Tea with Lemon, and the Mung Bean and Raisin from Jade Restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore that made the most lasting impressions in the snowskin and baked mooncake categories respectively. Even though they feature innovative combinations of ingredients, both manage to retain the essential traditional flavours — definitely worth the extra calories!

More mooncake deals for HomeTeamNS members

  • Goodwood Park Hotel Singapore – Try their new Pineapple with Custard snowskin mooncake, sample their signature durian creations, or delight your kids with the adorable Bunnies Tubbies. HomeTeamNS members enjoy 20 per cent off a minimum of $100 worth of mooncakes.

  • Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant – Savour healthier choices including the all-new Immunity Boosting Orange Mooncake With Orange Peel And Pine Nuts, which is available in both baked and snowskin varieties. HomeTeamNS members enjoy up to 30 per cent off online mooncake orders.

  • Golden Moments – This durian mooncake specialist is offering a one-for-one promotion on its premium snowskin mooncake selection. HomeTeamNS members enjoy an additional 5 per cent discount on top of existing online deals.

  • Hua Ting Restaurant – Using only the finest ingredients, each mooncake encapsulates a harmonious blend of authentic flavours and modern flair. Now with new flavours such as Mao Shan Wang, Kumquat & Yuzu, and Chendol Lotus with Melon Seeds, HomeTeamNS members can enjoy up to 25 per cent off mooncakes.

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.

Lifestyle On The Edge

How to prevent high-tech scams, according to a cybersecurity expert

Anyone can become a victim of fraud, especially with the use of increasingly sophisticated technology by cyber criminals. Follow these expert tips to safeguard against such scams.



Have you read about unfortunate scam victims in the news and thought, “There’s no way I would have fallen for that”? Well, you may be surprised, given how cybercriminals have managed to deceive even the savviest among us by harnessing technology.

Contrary to popular belief that cybercrime victims tend to be older folks who are less digitally-savvy, a 2022 study by the Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk found that those under the age of 25 were 10 per cent more susceptible to scams than those aged 65 years and above. Weighing in on the statistic, Mr Gary Gardiner — head of security engineering, Asia Pacific and Japan, at cyber security firm Check Point Software Technologies — says that young digital natives tend to develop strong trust in online platforms. As a result, they can be scammed, just like the older generation.

To avoid being a victim of scams, Mr Gardiner has this advice: “Think about who you are communicating with online and what they are asking for. While not everyone is looking to defraud you, the consequences of not being vigilant can be severe.” It also pays to be aware of the latest high-tech scams. From complex phishing operations to the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) impersonators, here are five trending scams to keep on your radar.


Phishing scams using malware are among the most common ways of targeting victims across all ages in Singapore. They may attempt to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information such as banking credentials by impersonating trustworthy entities such as an internet service provider or a bank through emails, text messages and weblinks.

Such scam tactics are not new, but they are carried out in novel ways. In May, news reports highlighted a case of a 60-year-old who lost S$20,000 after scanning a QR code on a sticker pasted outside a bubble tea shop. She completed an online survey and downloaded a third-party app to get a free cup of tea, not realising that malware was being installed on her Android phone. This granted scammers remote access to her device.


When visiting sites that you trust, Mr Gardiner advises using two-factor authentication (2FA) to avoid having your credentials stolen. Add another layer of protection by downloading cybersecurity tools such as the ScamShield app, which can scan incoming messages for fake sites, phishing scams and malicious content before you even receive the email or SMS, he adds. “Never share your personal information or passwords online, or even over the phone or video call with anyone,” Mr Gardiner advises. “If any communication asks to verify your username and password this way, it must be fake. No legitimate institution such as a bank would send you this request.” If you are unsure about anything online, contact the company using another method such as through a phone call, he adds.


It can be hard to resist a “good deal” online for your favourite seafood or Musang King durian. But with e-commerce scams on the rise — there was a 74.5 per cent increase in such cases in 2022 — it pays to think twice before making that purchase. A common e-commerce scam involves swindlers posting fake offers online and failing to deliver the promised items once victims have made payment. In some cases, victims are re-directed to fraudulent websites and expose their credit/debit card details. There is also an emerging trend of scammers posing as buyers. Here, scammers may approach e-commerce vendors to express interest in their products. To receive payment, the seller is asked to click on a URL link or scan a QR code that redirects them to a spoofed banking website where they reveal their confidential details.


If you receive a QR code or link, always carefully examine the web address, Mr Gardiner advises. Scammers often use domain names that are similar to or even contain the official URL, so always look out for subtle spelling errors. Do also note that most phishing sites now include an SSL certificate (the padlock symbol), so that’s no longer a fool-proof indication of a legitimate website. The best way to avoid such scams is to manually search for official company websites instead of using QR codes or URLs in emails.


While AI-driven scams may not be as common currently, Mr Gardiner notes that Check Point has seen an increase in the use of AI by scammers to craft more realistic content. “Previously it was easier to spot a scam due to bad grammar and spelling. However, the quality of spam emails has improved drastically with the introduction of AI,” he shares. There have also been reports of people being tricked into thinking that the person on the other end of the line is someone they know and trust through the use of deepfake voice recording, he adds. These highly realistic fake audio recordings of individuals are generated by training AI models on large datasets of their voices.


As with any forms of communication, Mr Gardiner stresses that being cautious is key. And don’t make decisions in a hurry. “Always look for signs that something may not be right. Be aware if the conversation goes down the path of money or investing,” he cautions.


Besides bringing on heartbreak, at least S$35 million was lost to Internet love scams last year, according to the Singapore Police Force’s Annual Scams and Cybercrime Report 2022. Along with traditional scam techniques of gaining your trust and affection, the latest generation of online romance fraudsters may also tap on AI tools such as deepfake voice and video technology to look and sound more convincing.


According to the National Crime Prevention Council, a red flag would be the swift profession of love shortly after making contact. Watch for other warning signs, such as constantly refusing video calls and sharing sudden stories of misfortune while requesting money. In some cases, the scammer may even send you gifts to gain trust.


Imagine losing phone service, being unable to send or receive messages, make calls and access your online accounts. This frightening situation can become a reality when scammers hijack your phone number by contacting your mobile service carrier and impersonating you, using details such as your NRIC number and birth date. They’ll claim to have lost or damaged your SIM card, and that your mobile number needs to be transferred to a different one. After taking control of the mobile number, they can then access various accounts that rely on 2FA via SMS, potentially allowing them to take over the victim’s online accounts or conduct financial fraud.


“Individuals are usually not aware they are victims of the swap until their phones start glitching,” Mr Gardiner says. Besides being unable to use your phone, other tell-tale signs that your SIM card has been swapped out include receiving a text message that the SIM card for your mobile number has been changed. To avoid becoming a victim, Mr Gardiner advises practising good cyber hygiene. This means not trusting any calls, texts and clicking on any links sent to you, unless you are absolutely sure of the source and sender. It is also critical to not give out any passwords, OTP and personal information for no good reason.


Mr Gardiner from Check Point Software Technologies shares safe online shopping tips.

  • Always download apps from official sources. For example, the HomeTeamNS mobile app can be downloaded via links on the HomeTeamNS website.
  • Third-party sites (ie. A payment gateway website) carry the risk of compromised software. Download the company’s security software from the app store to ensure software validity.
  • Never access sites through URLs shared over email, especially if you don’t know the sender. If you’ve entered your details through a suspicious Internet banking link, change your password immediately and inform your bank, which can help freeze your accounts.
  • Legitimate payment sites usually use 2FA. You can also look for the https:// protocol, which indicates that the website is using a secure connection, and helps protect your information from being intercepted.
  • Install security software on your devices such as Check Point Software’s Zone Alarm Mobile Protection, which scans sites for phishing attacks and scams, as well as SMS and other types of attacks.

To keep up with the latest scams, visit the Singapore Police Force’s Scams Bulletin.

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Here’s how play strengthens a unit and beyond

Singapore Police Force veteran DSP (NS) Eddy Jamal says cohesion activities can spark camaraderie among teammates.



“Throughout my 19 years in the Singapore Police Force (SPF), where I’ve held various appointments including that as the Head of Operations (NS) in the Public Transport Security Command (Transcom), I have repeatedly witnessed the importance of fostering a strong sense of unity among men who serve on the frontline of public security. This especially applies to my current role at the Police National Service Department, where I work with colleagues from the Leadership & Executive Training School and the Training Command to conduct leadership courses for our officer cadets as well as mid-level National Servicemen supervisors.

DSP (NS) Eddy Jamal served 19 years in the Singapore Police Force.

My work revolves around operations, where strong bonds and a high degree of camaraderie are crucial in performing every aspect of the job, from pre-planning to execution. For instance, the locations where officers are deployed for patrols depend on information that’s transmitted from the operations room. Thereafter, the officers on the ground work together to ensure that any detected crime is stopped, and the offenders are apprehended. But such synergy doesn’t materialise from out of nowhere — you must put in effort to nurture it.

Cohesion-building activities are a useful way to develop this sense of harmony between Home Team NSmen. I was reminded of this in 2022, when my former Transcom team participated in a session for senior officers that was held at HomeTeamNS Khatib. While the event featured presentations and dialogue sessions designed to help us fine-tune our operational capabilities, the real highlight for many of us was the second half of the programme, where we were able to let off steam through a series of fun physical activities.

These unfolded at Adventure HQ at HomeTeamNS Khatib, a 2,800 sqm indoor playground equipped with 10 installations. Here, we were able to test our strength and agility through bouldering and rock and urban climbing as well as attempting a ninja obstacle course. I was especially impressed by the 114m slide, which provided an amazing adrenaline rush! And I evidently wasn’t the only one who thought so — everyone seemed to be abuzz with excitement as they awaited their turn to go down the slide.

The experience really reinforced our team’s strong bonds. I saw officers encouraging one another to try out the various activities, while laughing and joking around amid a jolly atmosphere. It was nice to see the team let their hair down after several busy months where we were occupied with our National Day Parade and Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix commitments. Overall, it was good that the cohesion activities allowed us to interact in groups, which helped to establish rapport beyond our own units. In future, I hope to see more of such sessions that are thoroughly organised in consideration of factors such as the weather, accessibility and activity mix. For those who are about to attend a cohesion event, I’d advise you to come with an open mind. Most importantly, enjoy the time with your fellow NSmen.


Planning your unit’s next round of cohesion activities? We’ve got you covered.

Tchoukball: Gather two 12-player teams to try your hand at this fast-paced sport that has been growing in popularity in Singapore, ever since our women’s tchoukball team beat Chinese Taipei and topped the world rankings. Available at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier and Bukit Batok.

Archery Tag: This unique activity that combines dodgeball with archery will test your group’s agility, teamwork and precision. Available at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier and Bukit Batok.

Art Jamming: Slow things down and get in touch with your creative side. You can even create a painting together as a team to showcase your collaborative flair. Available at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier and Bukit Batok.

Check out other cool cohesion activities you can try with your peers at our clubhouses!

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Club Buzz Lifestyle

How to celebrate National Day 2023

As Singapore turns 58, here are some interesting ways you can celebrate all things Singaporean this National Day.



The National Day Parade is at the heart of Singapore’s birthday festivities every year. Whether you’re watching it on TV or enjoying the festive atmosphere at the Padang, this year’s parade promises plenty. There’s plenty to take in, like a fresh spin on Total Defence, heartland celebrations and a flypast that celebrates the RSAF’s 55th anniversary. This year, there’s even an afterparty – a blowout concert at the Gardens By the Bay where Kit Chan will bring out the feels with that perennial National Day fave, Home.


The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery located at the Central Fire Station offers a fascinating look at firefighting and rescue operations in Singapore.

Singapore may be only 58, but its history stretches way beyond that. One great way to pay homage to the past is by walking its heritage trails. The Jubilee Walk trail covers Singapore’s development from 14th century regional trading hub to colonial port and eventually, independent nation. Don’t miss the neighbourhood trails. These include Balestier and Yishun-Sembawang where you can recharge at HomeTeamNS clubhouses after your walk.

You can also learn more about the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) by following the Police Heritage Trail, or one of these trails that begin from a HomeTeamNS clubhouse. Visit the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery at 62 Hill Street for a look into the past, present and future of firefighting and rescue operations in Singapore.

If you prefer air-conditioning to trail walking, you can visit Chinatown, Kampong Glam, Little India or the Eurasian Heritage Gallery. From 3 October, the public has free admission to The Battlebox in Fort Canning Park, the underground command centre where the British surrendered to the Japanese in World War II.


It’s the race of the year at the HomeTeamNS Adventure Rally 2023. So, rally (pun intended) your family and friends to take part in either the Open or Family category. Starting from HomeTeamNS Khatib, you’ll drive your team to three other HomeTeamNS clubhouses where you’ll be sent on Singapore-themed missions and tasks in this #ProudlySingaporean race on Sunday, 13 Aug 2023, from 7.40am to 3pm.

At least one person from each team should have a Class 3/3A driving license, and if you choose the Family category, at least one of your team members should be aged between 7 and 14 years old. Be sure to register early to avoid missing out on this one-of-a-kind way to celebrate National Day on wheels!


Celebrate Singapore’s hawker culture on one of its many food trails, from Geylang to Chinatown and Katong. There’s nothing more local than our hawker culture, which was recognised in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020.

These days, Singapore’s foodie culture is evolving. From modern twists on Nanyang coffee to eggs Benedict prata, young hawkerpreneurs and restauranteurs are putting their own spins on heritage recipes. Pair your old-school teh tarik with ramen-inspired wanton noodles, or dive into the seafood-based feasts of the Orang Laut.


Want to pay it forward? The portal has over a thousand campaigns supporting hundreds of local causes. Spend time with seniors, support animal welfare or do your part for the environment. Volunteering as a group is also a great way to do something meaningful alongside loved ones.

If you have a cause you’re passionate about, you can start your own fundraiser on and ask your social network to give generously. Another way to give back to the community? Home Team Volunteer Schemes, which offer numerous programmes ranging from neighbourhood patrols to being a befriender with the Singapore Prison Service.


Another way you can fly the flag? Shop local! Cheeky t-shirts and gifts from When I Was Four, trinkets from Nana & Bird and curated local brands on Independent Market show just how far local brands have evolved. It’s a far cry from the good old days of Tiger Balm, which went from a Singapore-made ointment to global favourite in 100 years. Today, even celebrities like Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow sing the praises of Tiger Balm, which is still sold in its iconic hexagonal jar.

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.


Discover 8 shows that let us know who truly runs the world

With their smarts, sass and sharpshooting skills, these strong females are taking over the screen and our hearts.



We’ve come a long way from fairytales. Rather than being princesses in towers waiting for their shiny knights, the emancipation of women figures in stories has demonstrated that girls can indeed run the world – and even save the day.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to take on masculine characteristics as well. Women have found authority in their own ways – sometimes as the sassy ingenue brimming with good intentions, other times as the nurturing protective mother who can dispense wisdom as much as bullets.

Through the decades, representations of the empowered female in entertainment has been an inspirational force towards equality. Here are eight shows that have made their mark as classic examples of girl power.


If someone were to tell you that a massive cyborg is hunting you down to kill you, it’s likely most would just quake in their boots and beg for mercy. Not Sarah Conner.

Linda Hamilton, who plays the character, evolved beautifully through the first movie Terminator. She goes from running prey to stoic defender, but it was in the sequel that she really blossomed as a different creature thanks to motherhood. Protecting her son turned her into a fearless goddess, and while the series might have made Arnold Schwarzenegger an international star, Hamilton’s spirited one-liners in the face of her enemies have endeared her to many as a classic heroine.


Jodie Foster’s filmography runs impressive, but ask around and most will likely point to her portrayal of detective Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs as one of her best award-winning achievements. In the process of baiting an incarcerated psychiatrist for information to find a psychopathic killer, the investigator has to share her own personal trauma. It was this blend of vulnerability and steely resolve that made her pursuit riveting to watch.

The actress’s own personal process to obtain the role was just as inspirational. While the opportunity was first given to actresses like Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan, they rejected the controversial character. Director Jonathan Demme eventually gave Foster the role after considering her passionate and repeated requests, and her subsequent performance clearly showed just how capable she was.


It’s not fair, but when you’re a blonde barbie who draws reference from pop culture, people are not going to take you seriously. This was the case for Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, where she is Elle Woods – a seemingly ditzy girl who cares more about fashion and frivolous things. This became reason enough for her senator-aspiring boyfriend Warner to dump her, fuelling her motivation to win back his love for the rest of the movie.

Proving the adage correctly to not judge a book by its cover, our heroine proves pundits wrong by scoring a place in Harvard and even winning people over with her unorthodox ways. So yes, this movie proves that being girly and powerful are not mutually exclusive.


Mean Girls similarly focuses on teen schoolyard politics in America, but through the power play, one gets a sense of the life values that really matter as events unfold.

As the new girl in school, Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), is just trying to get by and not get into trouble. She makes friends with some of the outliers but is soon noticed by the school’s most “elite” girl trio, Regina, Karen and Gretchen. While she thrives well in their protection, she soon realises her false friendships and proceeds to orchestrate a fitting lesson for the backstabbing Regina.

With its memorable lines, charming cast and flaky humour, this comedic romance sidesteps mean girl values to find heart as a cherished trait and is a classic worth rewatching over and over again.


Two titans clash in this comedy-drama, with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway coming head-to-head as an untouchable fashion editor and her co-assistant.

When Hathaway enters fashion magazine, Runway, as new graduate Andrea Sachs, her cherished academic dreams quickly disintegrate under the withering looks of the respected editor, Miranda Priestly. As she leans into the world to prove her worth, she gains acceptance but loses her old priorities, and spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out what is most important to her despite the outward success and recognition.

Adapted from Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel of the same name, The Devil Wears Prada is a light-hearted look at a woman’s path to authenticity and standing up for her principles.


As an iconic movie in the 1980s, Ghostbusters was a classic that was hard to beat. In this 2016 reboot, many couldn’t deny the chemistry between the four members of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones.

Witty, sharp and full of the self-deprecating humour famous in the original, the four gave geeky girls across the world a chance at the spotlight by saving the world. Whether as an engineer or physicist, helping out with their paranormal knowledge or street smarts, the quartet showed the spirits who’s boss in this raucous comedy.


In one scene, Sherlock Holmes suggests to his younger sister that their missing mother “wants to change the world.” To this the spritely girl retorts, “Perhaps it’s a world that needs changing.”

Full of spirited adventure and brain-boggling mystery, Millie Bobby Brown (of Stranger Things fame) acts as the resilient female lead showing us how to battle societal norms even as she seeks out her disappeared parent. The single mother and daughter pair is a riot to watch, and Brown gives the titular character plenty of charm with her outstanding acting. Truly a heroine for a new generation.

NEVER HAVE I EVER (2020-2023)

Adults may have plenty of responsibilities to keep to, but for teenagers like Devi Vishwakumar played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, growing pains are the worst – especially when your father suddenly passes away.

Never Have I Ever is a series that charts her tumultuous journey through high school in Los Angeles, and tackles everything from peer pressure, emerging sexuality to overbearing parents. Ramakrishnan breaks boundaries with her ethnic representation, while debunking stereotypes and sharing cultural points in one swoop. Feisty and assertive, the teenage comedy is today’s beacon of female empowerment, no matter where you might come from.

Catch these titles for a dose of girl power and see how these female leads continue to inspire with their personal power. Or if you’re an avid movie buff, leverage our HomeTeamNS all-day, everyday 1-for-1 movie ticket deals at Cathay Cineplexes.

We’re celebrating the unwavering contributions of the ladies behind every Home Team National Serviceman! With Everyday HERoes, a new Family Membership with expanded female-centric perks launched by HomeTeamNS, participate in giveaways with prizes worth up to S$6,000. Membership sign-ups will run till 30 Nov 2023. For more information on Everyday HERoes and other amazing perks, visit our website.

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