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How volunteering with HomeTeamNS sparked a friendship across the forces

Runs, encounters with ministers and ‘makan’ sessions are among the experiences shared by DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli and MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh.

Runs, encounters with ministers and ‘makan’ sessions are among the experiences shared by DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli and MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh.

DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli and MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh play distinctly different roles in safeguarding the public interest. The former is the commander of Clementi Police Division while the latter, is the deputy commander for 21A Public Shelter Rescue Unit of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Despite serving different roles, DAC (NS) Azfar and MAJ (NS) Shahrudin have developed not just a friendship but a common goal as well – to provide fellow HomeTeamNS members with the best recreational experiences possible. As members of the recently-opened Bedok Reservoir clubhouse’s Executive Committee, the two HomeTeamNS volunteers contribute to decisions involving clubhouse operations. The committee, for example, oversees tender evaluations for external parties that provide services like internet, swimming pool maintenance and renovations.

The pair first met back in 2017, when they were on the executive committee of the Bukit Batok clubhouse. Recalling first impressions, MAJ (NS) Shahrudin says that DAC (NS) Azfar, who works as a senior scientist at A*STAR, exuded an air of self-confidence.

“I was a newcomer to the HomeTeamNS volunteer team, and DAC (NS) Azfar immediately made me feel welcome. He also struck me as a highly intelligent but humble individual,” says MAJ (NS) Shahrudin, who is the subject Head of PE/CCA at Ngee Ann Primary School.

DAC (NS) Azfar, on the other hand, found his new counterpart to be “genuinely amiable, friendly and easy going”. Soon, they were shooting the breeze about clubhouse matters and personal interests. “We’re just very likeminded people and love chatting about anything under the sun,” says MAJ (NS) Shahrudin.

All for the common good

MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh
MAJ (NS) Shahrudin Bin Salleh

Even though the two men may not agree on every subject, they both share a strong affinity for the HomeTeamNS family. DAC (NS) Azfar’s decision to volunteer stems from a desire to make fellow NSmen feel appreciated. “As a long-serving NSman, I fully understand the sacrifices that our NSmen make for the security of the nation. Hence, I feel it is important that HomeTeamNS sufficiently represents the interests of our NSmen and to show our appreciation for them,” says DAC (NS) Azfar, who has served as a NS leadership appointment holder at the Singapore Police Force (SPF) for more than a decade.

While the circumstances surrounding MAJ (NS) Shahrudin’s volunteer journey are different – he jokes that he was “arrowed” (cajoled) to volunteer – he has come to cherish his role.

“I see the men under my command as my band of brothers. Being their voice in HomeTeamNS means a lot to me. It also aligns with my purpose of contributing to the Force and country,” says MAJ (NS) Shahrudin, who also volunteers at the Punggol 21 Community Centre’s Malay Activities Executive Committee (MAEC), The Terrace Residents’ Network, and his mosque.

Dignitaries and healthy distractions

DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli at the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir roadshow.
DAC (NS) Muhamad Azfar Bin Ramli (fourth from left) at the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir roadshow.

The two friends have fond memories of their volunteer work at HomeTeamNS. For DAC (NS) Azfar, this includes an opportunity to host Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Law, and Ms Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs, during the official opening ceremony of the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse in January.

“It was an honour to show them around the new clubhouse and highlight the work of various HomeTeamNS volunteers who helped with the clubhouse development process,” he says. MAJ (NS) Shahrudin has also rubbed shoulders with a high-profile guest. He helped with the filming of a promotional video for the HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok clubhouse that featured Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development, Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who is also President of HomeTeamNS.

The cherry on top? MAJ (NS) Shahrudin’s son was also part of the cast.

MAJ (NS) Shahrudin and his son, Isa, competing in a friendly round of Mario Kart with Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim at PlayPen.

“My son Isa was so excited about getting to be in the film that he made it a point to memorise the script and rehearse it with his mum. The entire experience was such a positive one for him and I’m glad he was given the opportunity to be involved,” recounts MAJ (NS) Shahrudin.

“He even went to ask Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim what his PSLE score was after I told him that the minister is a very learned man!”

Both NSmen are regular participants of the annual HomeTeamNS REAL Run — not least for the camaraderie the event fosters. “Various NSmen from my SPF unit volunteer as marshallers for the run every year. I have always found it heartening to see them develop enduring friendships during this annual affair. I thoroughly enjoy mingling with them and listening to them share their backgrounds and cultures with me,” says DAC (NS) Azfar.

 MAJ (NS) Shahrudin echoed the sentiment. “This event is when I get to meet my fellow NSmen from across the Home Team. We usually chit-chat and laugh heartily during the run, crossing the finish line before we know it. I think this also sums up my volunteering journey,” he says. “To be honest, I’m not really in this for a workout. I’m more interested in the makan session I always have with DAC (NS) Azfar at Kampung Chai Chee Restaurant in Punggol after the rehearsal and actual runs!”

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