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On The Edge

Empowering every Singaporean to contribute to Total Defence

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

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

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG 

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

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

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

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

EMPOWER YOURSELF, EMPOWER SINGAPORE

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

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

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

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

BE A VITAL PART OF THE COMMUNITY

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

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

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

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

SAFEGUARD AGAINST MISINFORMATION AND SCAMS

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

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

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

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

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

HOW TO TAKE PART IN THE TD40 CELEBRATIONS

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

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

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

For more information, visit Total Defence Resources.

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

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

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On The Edge

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

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

TEXT: MARY WU

PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE, SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE  

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

Read on to discover more about these innovations and teams.

SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE (SPF)

1. SWIFT AND SKILLFUL: RAPID DEPLOYMENT TROOPS

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

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

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

3. MAINTAINING LAW AND ORDER: POLICE TACTICAL UNIT

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

SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE (SCDF)

4. BEATING THE HEAT: COMPARTMENT FIRE BEHAVIOUR TRAINING

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

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

5. KEEPING ROADS AND TUNNELS SAFE: ODYSSEY

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

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

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

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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On The Edge

How we help keep Singapore safe through SGSecure

Go behind the scenes to find out how the Home Team Agencies are driving the initiative that helps counter terrorism and prepare the community for emergencies.

BY MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: MHA

The terror threat remains very real and Singapore is a prized target. Launched in September 2016, the SGSecure movement is Singapore’s community response to the threat of terrorism. SGSecure is the national movement to sensitise, train and mobilise the community to play a part to prevent and deal with a terror attack. By leveraging the power of the community, it aims to heighten vigilance, enhance resilience and strengthen social cohesion during peacetime so that our people are better-equipped to deal with a terrorist attack.

Engaging different segments of the community through public agencies, the SGSecure Programme Office (SSPO) from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Joint Operations Group, oversees the SGSecure movement with support from other government agencies and the Home Team Departments, namely the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

We speak to three officers from the SSPO, SPF and SCDF to find out how they help to achieve this important mission, and how the public can contribute towards the movement.

EVOLVING WITH THE COMMUNITY

Since its inception, the SGSecure programme has evolved through the movement’s constant engagement  with the public. The Community Response Roundtable (CRRT), for instance, provides a platform for an open dialogue with key stakeholders and community groups to co-create plans for emergency responses. 

This was demonstrated at the Bukit Panjang Town CRRT, in September 2022, where members unanimously indicated it was essential to learn lifesaving skills. This led to increased participation in SCDF’s Community Emergency Preparedness Programme to learn about firefighting, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Ms Seah Wei Ying, 31, who is currently Senior Manager (Programmes) with the SSPO, shared that this feeds into the new phase of SGSecure that was announced in July 2023. She added that the tagline, ‘What’s Your Role?’, calls on Singaporeans to discover the role we can each play in combating terrorism.”

As a civilian officer,  Seah works with uniformed colleagues from diverse backgrounds. For now, she is overseeing the new series of roadshows launched in September 2023 to promote the new phase of SGSecure through interactive engagement and gamification.

“My colleagues and I have been working closely with our partners to develop content for the roadshows, which have new interactive elements to make it a more engaging and exciting experience for youths,” reveals Seah. She cites examples such as a memory game that helps individuals identify signs of radicalisation, a motion sensor-enabled game that trains them to get to safety during an attack and a word-hunting game that promotes the kampung spirit.

Scheduled to be held at Jurong Point from 29 to 31 March 2024, the next roadshow will be a fun and engaging way for the public to learn about their role in the collective response against terror threats.

“There is no act too small in our fight against terrorism. Every little thing we do can make a big difference in keeping Singapore safe from terrorism,”  Seah says.

CONNECTING WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

Instantly recognisable in their uniforms, SPF officers are a reassuring presence for many. Besides maintaining law and order, they also serve as safety ambassadors on the ground.

As an officer at the Community Policing Unit (CPU) of Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre, Sergeant (Sgt) Muhammad Asyraf enjoys conducting patrols to interact with residents. “Being a CPU officer provides me with the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and learn about their different experiences,” he explains. Together with the volunteers from Citizens on Patrol and Volunteer Special Constabulary, he also shares crime prevention tips with residents.

As part of his SGSecure outreach efforts, the 33-year-old conducts house visits to residents. “During our engagement sessions with residents, we share the SGSecure advisories and encourage them to download the SGSecure mobile application to better understand how they can prepare themselves even during peacetime,” he shares. There, he is often asked by residents: “Isn’t Singapore safe and not a target of terrorist attack?”

To that, he reiterates how “a terrorist attack can occur anywhere, at any time”.

Sgt Asyraf also reaches out to younger Singaporeans at schools, where he advises them on how to stand united against terrorism by identifying signs of radicalisation in loved ones and caring for them: “Create a safe space for the individual to share their thoughts or concerns, and assure him or her that  he or she is doing the right thing by not keeping  his or her feelings to himself or herself,” he stresses.  “At the same time, be sensitive to how the individual is feeling and show empathy.”

FIRST TO THE SCENE

(LTA) Sasha Ong from SCDF is keenly aware that every second matters when it comes to an emergency response. As a public education officer, she helps to coordinate the Responders Plus Programme (restructured in December 2023 from the Community Emergency Preparedness Programme). Conducted free-of-charge at the four SCDF divisional headquarters, the programme equips the public with essential life-saving skills, such as the use of CPR-AED, basic firefighting and first aid techniques.

The 28-year-old has seen the positive impact of Community First Responders (CFRs), who have rendered aid by helping to extinguish minor fires and administering CPR and AED on cardiac arrest patients.

“CFRs play a crucial role as they act as the first line of help during emergencies — they are often the ones nearest to the fire incident or cardiac arrest victim, and they can provide immediate assistance before SCDF arrives,” (LTA) Ong explains. “One of the most important emergency preparedness skills is knowing how to administer CPR and use the AED. When a cardiac arrest occurs, time is of the essence, and every minute plays a critical role in determining the outcome,” she adds.

The Responders Plus Programme draws an average of 700 to 800 participants each month. However, (LTA) Ong notes a sense of wariness in some.  “Some CFRs are apprehensive about performing CPR on cardiac arrest patients, expressing their fear of causing more harm than good,” she shares, stressing that the underlying dynamics of such fears must be addressed through increased education to boost the programme’s effectiveness.

Nonetheless, she is buoyed by the successes she’s witnessed. For instance, a friend who had trained as a CFR responded to a cardiac arrest case via the myResponder app and brought an AED to the patient’s home.

“Another community responder had arrived at the home before her and commenced CPR, so she assisted to place the AED pads on the patient and deliver one shock before the arrival of SCDF,” (LTA) Ong recounts. “This touched me greatly and reinforced the idea that anyone can be a community responder,” says the young officer.

HOW YOU CAN JOIN THE SGSECURE MOVEMENT

Discover your role with a quiz: Everyone has a role in keeping Singapore safe from terrorism. Find out yours through this personality quiz.

Join us as an SGSecure Responder: Your timely assistance to someone in need can help save a life. Sign up here.  

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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Lifestyle On The Edge

Why Yishun is one of Singapore’s most misunderstood neighbourhoods

Don’t let the outlandish Yishun stories deter you from visiting this multi-faceted district that’s home to HomeTeamNS Khatib

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK, HOMETEAMNS, NELLY’S RETRO SNACKS FACEBOOK PAGE

Singapore’s northerly region of Yishun used to be known for a host of headline-grabbing incidents  – alleged supernatural sightings, strange crimes and other unusual incidents. However, Yishun residents know this is not a fair representation of the town.

Along with the many amenities at HomeTeamNS Khatib, the town boasts other fascinating gems including Singapore’s last fishing village, a sustainable market with lake views, and scenic walks with hints of its colourful past.

NIBBLE ON NOSTALGIA

Nelly’s Retro Snacks brings back the nostalgic goodness of old-school treats. Whether you’re a child of the ’70s or the new millennium, they have all kinds of tidbits that you will instantly recognise. Classic gemstone biscuits, chocolate wafers, figure-of-eight candy chocolates and whistling candies are just some of the sweet treats available.

There is a new branch at Causeway Point but the original one at Junction 9 offers a true old-school experience. Filled with metal tins and wired shelves, it’s a joy to hunt for your favourite snack there.

Where? Junction 9 (18 Yishun Avenue 9 #01-49 Singapore 768897)

SHOP AND EAT AT A SUSTAINABLE MARKET

Fancy a lake view with your coffee? The Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre offers a scenic cafe experience. On the first and third weekend of each month, the venue hosts the Zero Market. Visitors  can browse and buy a variety of fresh produce and sustainable goods.

Why the name? The organisers have adopted a  zero meat, zero plastic approach and aim to make it zero waste in the future. If you love anything handcrafted, upcycled, or pre-loved, this Yishun oasis is definitely worth visiting.

Where? Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre (30A Yishun Central 1, Singapore 768196)

INDULGE IN LOCAL FAVES AT CHONG PANG

Ask any local to recommend good food and Chong Pang Market & Food Centre will probably be on their list. Other than the institution that is Chong Pang Nasi Lemak, the hawker centre is also the perfect place to satisfy your cravings for local delights.

Just a 10-minute walk from Yishun MRT, you’ll find a food haven with all types of cuisines and flavours. Try the famous Chuan Kee Boneless Braised Duck for its aromatic dishes that has won acclaim from Michelin. Or visit Guan Heng for a plate of beehoon slathered in generous satay sauce. Haji Ali offers homely Malay dishes like lontong, mee siam and mee rebus. Super Penyet offers crispy flattened chicken served with sharp, delicious belacan.

Where? Chong Pang Market & Food Centre (105 Yishun Ring Road, Singapore 760105)

EXPLORE SCENIC YISHUN DAM

Who knew a simple man-made structure could be so beautiful? Yishun Dam has become an unexpected perch for people to enjoy golden sunset views. Far enough from the crowds to be quiet, yet accessible enough by public transport, it has been enjoyed as a landmark by couples, families hikers and cyclists. Its fresh green lawns are great picnic spots and ideal for setting up that trending camp-and-coffee spot. It’s also a great location to catch local fauna. Astronomy buffs flock there as it’s situated far enough from built-up areas that cameras and telescopes are not affected by light pollution.

Next to it is Jenal Jetty and a little fishing village that time forgot. While the village is not open to the public, you can still catch sight of villagers from a distance.

Where? Yishun Dam (Yishun Avenue 1, near the junction of Seletar West Link and Seletar Aerospace Drive)

REMINISCE ABOUT THE PAST ON A HISTORIC TRAIL

Yishun became home to Asia’s first cineplex in 1992 when Yishun 10 (now GV Yishun) opened. While some expected it to fail, the multiplex has thrived. You can find out more about this along the curated Yishun-Sembawang Heritage Trail. Discover how Chong Pang became the first neighbourhood centre in Yishun New Town and why it is marked by two stone gateways. Learn how Yishun Park used to be a plantation that belonged to Chye Kay village.

The trail starts at Singapore’s first outdoor heritage space, Heritage Garden @ Yishun, and goes past hot springs, iconic eateries, a striking minaret and the area’s only national monument, Old Admiralty House.

PADDLE PAST NATURAL MANGROVES

Most people know about Sungei Buloh’s wetlands, but Yishun holds its own natural treasure – Sungei Khatib Bongsu. A rich mangrove and mudflat habitat, the area is seeing growing interest as the park and connectors to the area are developed. The area is teeming with wildlife and marine ecosystems and is a popular stopover for migratory birds.

The best way to see this is on kayaks, where you can row past several sections of well-preserved mangroves. Witness amazing sights like the natural tunnel formed by the trees – which will have you thinking you’re not in Singapore.

VISIT SINGAPORE’S LARGEST MULTI-INSTALLATION INDOOR PLAYGROUND

AdventureHQ is another first for Yishun. Located at HomeTeamNS Khatib, it is Singapore’s first and largest multi-installation indoor playground. It features the longest indoor slide in Singapore and offers plenty of challenging obstacles. Make your way across swinging tires, narrow rope bridges and even a fossil cave system.

The clubhouse is also perfect for organising group outings at the Mancaves. Play console games, unleash your karaoke skills or enjoy a barbecue with loved ones. Children can explore the T-Play Indoor Playground. Up for a little challenge? Head to TactSim for some target practice or split into teams to see who can hold fort.

Where? HomeTeamNS Khatib  (2 Yishun Walk, Singapore 767944)

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Lifestyle On The Edge

Guardians of Our Borders: How ICA Connects Singapore to the World

What does it take to ensure smooth immigration clearance for all travellers departing from and arriving at Changi Airport all year round?

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: IMMIGRATION & CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY

Last December, 4.6 million travellers passed through Changi Airport – a number that’s likely to increase this year, as international travel continues to pick up post-COVID.

Smoothly clearing a large number of travellers 24/7 is no small feat. Thankfully, technology is helping to ease the workload says Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) Inspector (INSP) Haslam Yau.

“It has also enhanced immigration clearance experience and facilitated the movement of the high volume of travellers passing through Changi Airport,” he says.

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK

INSP Haslam and his team member overseeing the operations of the automated lanes at Terminal 2

INSP Haslam leads a team of 15 ICA officers to ensure the smooth running of ground operations at Changi Airport Terminal 2. On a day-to-day basis, he assesses the travellers who have been referred to him by his officers to determine if they are eligible to enter Singapore. As a Team Leader, INSP Haslam provides guidance to his team members, keeps them updated and trained on the latest Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), as well as ensure that they have adequate breaks, especially on days with heavy flight loads.

When a traveller is referred to INSP Haslam by frontline officers, he will conduct further screening, interviews and baggage checks to establish the intent of the traveller. 

“We may ask questions about their duration of stay and itinerary in Singapore. This helps us assess their eligibility for entry into Singapore,” he explained. “Every case is different, and each case may warrant a different course of action. As a Team Leader, I have to think on my feet and make an informed decision.”

At the checkpoints, ICA continues to innovate its clearance capabilities to better manage the increasing volume of travellers. One such initiative deployed at Changi Airport is the Automated Clearance Initiative (ACI). Under ACI, eligible foreign visitors can use the automated lanes for immigration clearance on arrival, without prior enrolment of their biometrics. Enrolment is done automatically as the traveller clears through immigration using the automated lanes. Once enrolled, they will be able to clear immigration using the automated lanes when they depart and on subsequent visits to Singapore. 

ICA also implemented the Special Assistance Lanes at selected passenger halls at Changi Airport which allows family groups and travellers using wheelchairs to enjoy convenience of immigration self-clearance with their biometrics. Singapore is the first country in the world to introduce an automated lane that allows multiple travellers to perform self-immigration clearance as a group.

FASTER, BETTER, MORE EFFICIENT

There are more tech-powered updates in store. In 2024, majority of travellers will no longer need to present their passport to depart Changi Airport, thanks to the implementation of end-to-end biometric clearance. Travellers would not need to produce their passport and boarding pass multiple times during the boarding process. Their biometrics will serve as the single token of authentication at the various automated touchpoints. However, travellers will still need to produce their passports when arriving at their destinations.

Adding to this convenience is the MyICA Mobile application, a one-stop digital platform to transact with ICA anytime and anywhere. This app allows users to access all ICA e-Services, including SG Arrival Card (SGAC) with health declaration functions.

The SGAC was introduced as part of ICA’s move towards paperless immigration clearance. It replaced the paper-based disembarkation/embarkation card that foreign visitors were required to submit to ICA upon arrival at our checkpoints. During COVID-19, ICA included the electronic health declaration function, which allowed travellers to submit both their arrival details and health declaration online before entering Singapore. Despite the easing of travel restrictions, travellers entering via air and sea are still required to submit SGAC to mitigate the risk of importation of diseases of concern (e.g. Yellow Fever and Ebola) into Singapore.

MyICA Mobile app makes filling in SGAC much easier, explained INSP Haslam. For those who travel in and out of Singapore by air frequently, they can create and store their personal profiles within the app. With the profile created, travellers would only need to update their trip details and health declaration for the subsequent trips, instead of filling in their personal details again. Families can also easily submit the SGAC as a group by having a member create and store the profiles of each family member on the app and submit it on their behalf.

“They won’t have to fill up the arrival card on the spot, which makes immigration clearance faster,” he said. “Travellers can submit the SGAC up to three days prior to arriving in Singapore, including on the day of arrival.” 

INSP Haslam highlighted that the MyICA Mobile app also helps travellers avoid falling prey to scammers. Some commercial entities may mislead travellers into thinking that they need to be paid a fee to fill in and submit the SGAC on their behalf. 

“These agencies are not endorsed by ICA,” he said firmly. “Travellers can submit SGAC either via ICA’s website or the MyICA Mobile app. The submission is free of charge and takes approximately three to ten minutes to complete.”

SERVING TRAVELLERS WITH HEART

Being a team leader at Changi Airport for over two years, INSP Haslam relishes the opportunity to interact with travellers of different backgrounds.

One particularly memorable incident occurred when an elderly Japanese traveller with dementia could not find her passport.

“She couldn’t converse in English and couldn’t recall where she had left her passport,” recounted INSP Haslam. “I asked one of my officers to see if anyone was waiting for her at the arrival hall.”

The officer spotted a younger Japanese woman who turned out to be the elderly lady’s daughter. She described the pouch her mother kept her passport in. INSP Haslam radioed the duty terminal manager to ask the airline’s representatives to search the aircraft. The passport and its pouch were found in her seat pocket and the traveller was cleared through immigration.

“She was really frail and looked terrified,” said INSP Haslam. “When she saw her daughter, she burst into tears.”

For INSP Haslam and his fellow ICA officers, using their wits, training and armed with technology to ensure that travellers begin or end their journeys smoothly is all in a day’s work – and key to their commitment to safeguard Singapore’s borders.

LESS HASSLE, MORE TRAVEL

To keep travel hassle-free during the upcoming year-end holidays, INSP Haslam has a tip or two for Singaporeans embarking on or returning from their holidays abroad at Changi Airport.

“Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months before travelling and remember to submit your SGAC within three days before arriving in Singapore to enjoy a smooth clearance on arrival,” he said.

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

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

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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.

TEXT: THERESE TAY

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?

MELBOURNE MARVELS

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.

MELBOURNE MARVELS

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.

ROLLING IN DOUGH

“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.”

MARKET DAY

“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.

SING OR SPIN

“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.”

CHRISTMAS IN JULY

“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.”

TIPS FOR FAMILIES

  • 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.

TAIPEI TREASURES

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.

TAIPEI TREASURES

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.

WATCH YOUR SNACK

“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.”

WALK THIS WAY

“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.”

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

“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.”

TIPS FOR FAMILIES

  • 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.

BANGKOK BOUNTIES

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.

BANGKOK BOUNTIES

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.

NOODLES FOR DAYS

“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.”

BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS IT

“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.”

KNEAD TO UNWIND

“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.”

BUY BY NIGHT

“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.”

TIPS FOR FAMILIES

  • 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.

EXCLUSIVELY FOR HOMETEAMNS MEMBERS, GET TRAVEL READY!

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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.

TEXT: EVELINE GAN

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK

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.

1.PHISHING

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.

HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF

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.

2. E-COMMERCE SCAMS

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.

HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF

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.

3. AI-DRIVEN SCAMS

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.

HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF

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.

4. ONLINE ROMANCE SCAMS

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.

HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF

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.

5. SIM SWAP SCAMS

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.

HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF

“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.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHILE SHOPPING ONLINE

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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Parenting in the metaverse: Building a digital family life

The metaverse offers plenty of immersive experiences, from world-building platforms to popular kids’ games. But what is it actually and how can parents join in the fun?

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

If you’ve been seeing the term “metaverse” more often but don’t know what it means, you might want to ask someone aged below 16. Just as millennial-era childhood was defined by the rise of the Internet, Generation Z – and their younger siblings, Generation Alpha – are fearlessly exploring the metaverse. But what is it?

Think of the metaverse as a purely digital world where people can play, socialise, work and carry out numerous activities using avatars to represent themselves.

These avatars can be enhanced through technologies such as virtual reality (VR), where VR headsets like the Meta Quest 2 allow users to immerse themselves in a metaverse game platform. Users can also use augmented reality – where they use their phones to scan items around their real-world surroundings to accumulate points in a metaverse shop or game.

Big things are in the works for the metaverse. Mr Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook – which rebranded itself to Meta in 2021 – announced his vision of the metaverse, in which people use augmented reality glasses to “see” and hang out with their friends at concerts or play basketball. Last year, the LEGO Group announced a partnership with Epic Games to build an immersive and engaging digital experience especially designed for children in the metaverse.

While that’s still some way off in the future, there are plenty of existing games and educational activities for families to explore the developing metaverse with their kids.

CREATE YOUR OWN WORLDS

Your child might tell you that they’re “playing Roblox”, but they’re doing much more than just playing a game.

Roblox is a digital platform where users can create their own games and play others’ games, as well as use in-game currency – called Robux – to purchase items for use or decoration within the games.

The platform’s user-friendly game development tools make it easy for younger participants to build their own games, which often focus on simulated real-world experiences like school or caring for a pet. Parents can guide their kids in creating these experiences and use the opportunity to discuss the topic at hand – such as responsible pet ownership – or use Robux to explore budgeting. 

An older game, Minecraft appeals to LEGO fans who enjoy the platform’s base concept of making items, buildings and more using blocks. In survival mode, players have to look for food, fight off enemies and build defensive structures, while creative mode allows players to use the game’s resources and tools to create whatever they want – such as entire cities, replicas of movie settings, spaceships, castles and more.

If your kids enjoy a long-term project, one enjoyable family activity could be to work on building their dream house in Minecraft. Let the little ones take the lead and be amazed by their creativity.

PLAY GAMES AS A FAMILY

If you’ve invested in VR headsets for the family, there are fun, kid-friendly games that can be played together.

Horizon Worlds allows Meta users to gather virtually and explore different areas, play interactive puzzles and games and socialise with others on the app through your avatar. Users can even create their own worlds.

Learn to cooperate with Cook-Out, an award-winning multiplayer cooking game for up to four players – though it can also be played solo – in which you work together to make and serve up virtual sandwiches for enchanted creatures. Prepare for frantic movements, excited squealing and lots of laughter.

To encourage family fitness – who says gamers don’t exercise – challenge your kids to a round of Beat Saber, where you slice block-shaped musical beats with a pair of light sabres, while avoiding bombs and missing notes. Party mode allows you to compete with each other, all while enjoying the game’s soundtrack of pop hits from teen favourites like Billie Eilish and Lizzo.

TAKE PART IN ART

Young creatives will have fun collaborating with siblings or parents in VR sandboxes like Virtuoso, which provides a range of unique musical instruments for users to explore. The virtual music stage empowers both little learners and experienced music students alike, as they can create music in real-time, jam with others and even record their own songs to share.

If you have a budding Picasso in the house and don’t want to have oil paints smeared over all your surfaces, Vermillion takes the mess out of painting. Users get a VR palette with features like custom tutorials, realistic colour mixing and the rich impasto texture of oil paints, and are also able to paint together with up to four people. (This includes sharing palettes and painting on each other’s canvases, so it’s best to lay down some ground rules before a sibling fight breaks out.)

WATCH A SHOW TOGETHER

Not all of your kids’ favourite artistes or bands will come to Singapore to perform, but you can take them to a virtual concert in the metaverse.

Both real-life pop stars like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and completely virtual idols like South Korean girl band MAVE have held metaverse concerts, making their live performances accessible to fans all over the world, no matter where they live.

VR viewing experiences aren’t just limited to concerts. Baobab Studios won an Emmy for their VR-powered film Baba Yaga, which gives viewers the opportunity to become the main character in a fairy-tale world, where they must go on a quest to save their mother’s life and extract a cure from the witch Baba Yaga (who is played by Kate Winslet, in a cast stuffed with well-known Hollywood names). Cheer your child on as they venture into a forest, interact with the film’s magical characters and help them work through the decisions that will influence the story’s outcome.

SAFETY FIRST IN THE METAVERSE

CHECK THE RATING

Before purchasing a game, ensure that it’s rated appropriately for your child’s age. While Roblox is extremely popular with primary schoolers in Singapore, it’s actually recommended for those aged 13 and up if played without parental supervision, while Minecraft is ranked safe for kids aged 8 and above.

AVOID STRANGER DANGER

It’s best to do your own research on how game platforms are structured and what features they offer. For example, sandbox builder game Fortnite has two versions, Battle Royale and Save the World. Fortnite: Battle Royale involves 100 players fighting it out until only one remains. This means the online voice and text chat can connect your child to strangers and expose them to profanity or inappropriate speech. To prevent this, disable the chat function completely, or limit your children to playing only with people they know in real life.

EDUCATE YOUR KIDS

Don’t be afraid to discuss openly the dangers kids might fall prey to, such as online grooming, scams and account hacking. Having the right knowledge will empower your children to keep themselves safe, and keeping the lines of communication open will ensure that they’ll come to you first if anything happens.

 

 

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Lifestyle On The Edge

Instagram makeover tips you need to know about

A home makeover to create an aesthetic vibe is easy with these inspiring tips on Instagram.

TEXT: MORGAN AWYONG

PHOTOS: @OURFIRSVTHOME, RICE LAB,  SHUTTERSTOCK, @LIGHKDARKSTARK_STUDIO, @JANNONKWAN & @LEMONFRIDGESTUDIO

If you’re looking to remodel your home, the good news is that finding inspiration to create your dream dwelling is easier than ever. However, renovating your home to fit a specific theme – like Japandi or Industrial – can take a hefty chunk out from your savings.

Rather than following trendy renovation themes blindly – that could soon fall out of style and date your home – why not pick up some makeover tips from Instagram itself?

For a more wallet-friendly makeover for instance, you could spruce up your existing home. Some of these changes just need a new piece of furniture, while others guide you on fundamentals that you can apply throughout your home.

CURVY IS IN

Putting a wall up can be a good thing, especially when it’s a curved one. These homeowners added a wall with a rounded edge to their main living space and it instantly elevated the feel.

Curved walls can help to soften the look of a space. It can serve as a design statement and add visual interest. They have strategically placed the curved corner at a central location, so it can transform the visual mood from multiple angles. And because the curve is only applied to the corner, the cost is reduced and occupies less space than a full wall. Plus, it’s safer if you have kids.

COLOUR STORIES

Architect Khai Toh believes that the best Insta-worthy shots work because of visual storytelling. You can do this in two ways: Adding a pop of contrasting colour to the existing home palette, or creating pockets of activity – like an armchair to read at.

The first is easy, and rather than just relying on furniture, consider items like paintings or a shelf of books to add dynamism to your pictures. Otherwise, you could also paint a single feature wall to add that visual interest.

The second works because the way the items are placed suggests an activity the homeowner partakes in. Khai explains: “What draws me into a picture is the used space; like half-open books or a pen by a sofa – as if someone had just left the spot”.

TILES HAVE CHANGED

Photo: Rice Lab

This company shows off the variety of possibilities available today, including sophisticated designs that appear seamless with clever visual illusions. Textures – unlike colours and forms – are often overlooked when designing homes, and you can include them easily with the right kind of tiles, even if it’s just in one room. Whether placed on the floor or a wall, their addition can transform a space, giving visual and tactile interest just by adjusting some lighting.

SERVE A THROW

Photo: Shutterstock

Combining two of the earlier points about colour and texture, a throw can instantly elevate your existing home setup. These mini decorative blankets might not make much sense in their original function in sunny Singapore, but they can serve another purpose – as an added layer of protection against dust, grime and sunlight.

A throw can be placed on a sofa, armchair, bed or even a side table to add a pop of personality, and with the many designs and materials out there, you’ll likely find one that speaks to you and fits your home. You don’t even need to buy proper throws. Experiment with mufflers or scarves to get the same effect without spending too much.

EXPRESS YOURSELF

When designing a home, we can sometimes lose ourselves to a theme. Magazine and social media-inspired designs might be great but it can feel strangely cookie-cutter if it doesn’t align with your own lifestyle. For instance, a minimalist design theme might appeal to you but may not be realistic if you have three kids and a dog.

Don’t be afraid to inject your own personality with hybrid styles. A colourful dog bed or play station might be just what is needed to differentiate your white walls. Add your favourite sci-fi toy, crocheted cushion cover, vinyl record – these will give your home your unique visual signature.

LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING

Photo: @lighkdarkstark_studio @jannonkwan and @lemonfridgestudio

The right kind of lighting can really impact in a photo, and it does so in three ways. First, having dedicated points of lighting can quickly add visual points of interest as well as suggest areas of activity, like a standing lamp by an armchair. Secondly, you can quickly transform the ambience with different lighting temperatures, especially with hue-changing bulbs.

Lighting can be statement pieces themselves. In this example, the off-kilter lights adds levity to the space with their playful angles. If fixed lightings are too fussy, consider portable versions and LED lighting strips to tuck light into neglected corners for depth and interest.

BRING HOME AN EMOTION

Sometimes the best inspiration comes from places you already love and know. Where’s your happy place? Is there somewhere you go to that makes you feel particularly relaxed?

Why spend all that money at (sometimes) overpriced cafes when you can recreate the café vibe at home? This local design installed a wall seating on one side of the dining table to simulate a cafe, with side embellishments. So be it a spa or bar or hotel room, let your favourite hangouts become your source of inspiration.

Combine one or more of these tips to spruce up your home, and see how easy it is to make it more photogenic. HomeTeamNS members can shop for more chic inspiration ideas at HipVan and enjoy 10 per cent off when they spend a minimum of $500 there.

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Lifestyle On The Edge

Venturing off the beaten path

Adventure travel: A recent poll shows more tourists are visiting locations where you can push your limits, and some of these are within easy reach of Singapore.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK, UNSPLASH

There’s nothing wrong with going on a vacation purely to relax, but there are times when you crave something a little more exciting than a holiday spent lazing by the pool. In fact, a survey last October by travel portal booking.com found that 79 per cent of Singapore travellers want to get out of their comfort zones and push their own limits, with 25 per cent of them hoping to explore destinations that are off the tourist radar. So, if the call of the wild sounds irresistible, it’s time to pack your bags and choose your own adventure.

DIVING IN RAJA AMPAT

Scuba enthusiasts might already be familiar with Indonesia’s Raja Ampat, which lies just off the northwest end of Bird’s Head Peninsula, West Papua. Renowned for its pristine waters and jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat comprises four large islands – Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool – surrounded by over 1,500 smaller islands, shoals and cays. The Raja Ampat regency is home to over 1,000 types of coral fish and 540 coral varieties, so there’s plenty to see when you venture beneath the waves. It offers a variety of accommodation options to suit various budgets.

Swim with placid sea turtles amid the vast coral reefs, marvel at manta rays gliding by and encounter schools of tuna, snapper fish and giant trevallies. Pro tip: Diving season for Raja Ampat is between October to April.

KAYAKING IN LAOS’ 4,000 ISLANDS

Despite not having its own coastline, Laos has a chain of islands known as Si Phan Don, which are part of a delta in the Mekong River near where the southern Laotian border meets Cambodia.

There are three main islands – Don Det, Don Khon and Don Khong – which have budget hotels and tour agencies. Book a guided kayak tour and explore the numerous islands, many of which are wild and uninhabited. Navigate the tricky rapids at Pai Soi near Don Khon before going ashore to the majestic Khone Phapheng Falls, where you can catch your breath and luxuriate in the view. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin playing in the Mekong waters – a memory to treasure for life.

ZIPLINING AND PARAGLIDING IN SABAH

Sabah is home to the Coral Flyer, Borneo’s longest island-to-island zipline. Stretching 250m across the glittering aquamarine waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in Kota Kinabalu, the Coral Flyer takes you on a ride you won’t forget, with the wind whipping through your hair as you get a flying start in the mountain forest before zipping across the sea

If that isn’t enough, try tandem paragliding. Book a tour with an experienced tandem pilot who will leap with you from Kokol Hill, about 40 minutes’ drive from Kota Kinabalu. Some also provide a souvenir GoPro video, so you can relive your experience.

TREKKING IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Not to be confused with Indonesian West Papua, Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of New Guinea island and is an independent nation with the tourism tagline, “A million different journeys”. Visitors can dive, fish, surf and trek in unspoilt natural environments, but serious history buffs will want to tackle the eight to 10 day-long Kokoda Track, which has a reputation for being both physically challenging and emotionally moving. The 96km route goes from Kokoda Village across mountainous terrain to Owers’ Corner, taking you through World War II battlefields and memorials to the Australian soldiers who fought and died on the track. You’ll climb to the summit of Mount Bellamy for spectacular views and visit villages where wounded soldiers were cared for by brave locals who carried them back to safety.

Heading abroad for your adventurous getaway? Don’t forget travel insurance! Until 31 July 2023, Singlife with Aviva is offering HomeTeamNS members 20 per cent off its Single Trip travel insurance plan. If you have a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Group Insurance Voluntary coverage, you’ll get an additional 30 per cent off. Simply login to the HomeTeamNS Mobile App for the promo code.

HAVE FUN, STAY SAFE

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