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United by Duty
The Home Team spirit prevails during Ramadan.

Main Photo (1)
PHOTOS: Natasha Razak
It’s about duty above all else. 

Home Team officers are there for us 24/7, 365 days a year. During the fasting month of Ramadan, our Muslim officers are also mindful of another set of numbers, having their pre-dawn meal before 5:30am and refraining from food and drink until slightly after 7pm. Here’s a snapshot of how Home Team officers support one another during Ramadan.  

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On a Thursday afternoon in May, about 40 officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to a shophouse fire at Dickson Road. Despite the scorching hot sun and serpent-like flames, the firefighters persevered and extinguished the fire in about three hours.  

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It was 6:30pm when a team of firefighters who fought the blaze returned to Paya Lebar Fire Station. The Muslim officers had less than 40 minutes till the sun set and they would break fast together as a rota. 

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During Ramadan, preparations for breaking fast begin at 6:45pm in the Fire Station’s mess. Officers work together to place plastic sheets and newspapers on the floor, carefully piecing these together and securing them to the ground with tape. Other officers will purchase food on behalf of the rota from eateries in the neighbourhood. 

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Rota Commander Lieutenant (NS) Shukla Hykel shared that the team typically orders nasi ambeng (steamed rice accompanied by a selection of meat and vegetable side dishes) to be shared on a communal platter. 

“It’s our go-to meal during the fasting month because it brings out the kampong or community spirit,” he said. “During our normal duties, we usually eat our own meals and get back to work once we’ve finished. But during the fasting month, we share our food and bond with one another over dinner.” 

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Much of the firefighters’ daily routine remains the same during Ramadan, though the timing for certain drills may be changed. “Typically, we conduct the chemical agent acclimatisation drill at 6am,” said Sergeant (SGT) Mohd Nor Izzat, a Section Commander at the Fire Station (above, at left). “During the fasting month, we conduct it at 9pm instead.”

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Non-Muslim officers join in the meal as well. Corporal (NS) Sean Chan admires his fellow firefighters who fast despite the physical demands of the job. “I’ll show respect to my Muslim colleagues while they’re fasting by trying not to drink or eat in front of them before the sun sets,” he said.  

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This same all-for-one spirit prevails at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Patrolling this busy sea checkpoint on Singapore’s eastern coastline while keeping a lookout for suspicious items and individuals – this is what officers of the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority’s (ICA) Checkpoint Response Team (CRT) do on a daily basis in securing our borders. 

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PHOTOS (bottom and right): ICA

“My job requires me to constantly be alert and vigilant,” said Checkpoint Inspector 1 Muhammad Farhan, Deputy Team Leader of CRT (above, at right). “But I’m thankful for supportive colleagues who work hand-in-hand with me to ensure that everything goes smoothly.”

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One of his colleagues is Inspector (INSP) Justino Guo (above, left), who sat down to break fast with his team members at dusk. “As a Team Leader, I try my best to keep morale high as I feel that every effort to encourage my team counts when they’re fasting,” he said. “Refraining from drinking is a challenge and I look out for their well-being by observing if any of my team members aren’t feeling well.”

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The conversation over dinner was animated. INSP Justino noted that duty hours for Muslim officers are arranged such that they can break fast on schedule. “I’ve never fasted to the same extent before,” he shared. “But working with my team members has shown me their tenacity and determination in carrying out our duties.” 

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To experience Ramadan at its most festive, the best place to be is the annual Geylang bazaar. Here, officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) are on constant patrol to maintain public safety and security.

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One SPF officer who is on duty at the bazaar for his ninth consecutive year is SGT (NS) Andi Johann (above, at right). “Patrolling the Geylang bazaar has allowed me to befriend some of the shopkeepers, since we see them almost every day,” he said. “This is one of the things I enjoy about my duties because I love meeting new people.” 

In 2011, SGT (NS) Andi helped arrest a suspect while he was on patrol during Ramadan when his team received an alert about a locked toilet cubicle at Tanjong Katong Complex. “The security guard called to inform us that he saw a man, who didn’t seem to be in the right mental state, entering the cubicle,” SGT (NS) Andi recalled. “It turned out that the man was suspected to have consumed drugs, and we managed to successfully apprehend him.”

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At major events, public security is key. SGT (NS) See Delong (above) has been on command post duty at the Geylang bazaar for the past five years. His job scope involves monitoring crowd traffic, receiving information from the operations room and relaying it to the officers on patrol. “We occasionally receive calls about lost children and have to quickly scrutinise our CCTV monitors to find them in the sea of human traffic,” he shared. 
It’s through the small gestures of support during Ramadan that the Home Team spirit shines. “As a mark of respect to my Muslim colleagues, I make it a point to eat my dinner at the same time that they break fast,” said SGT (NS) Delong.

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SGT (NS) Andi will also be working on the eve of Hari Raya, something he has done for the past eight years. “While I won’t get to break fast with my family, my fellow officers are like a big family to me,” he shared.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Natasha Razak
  2. 03 June 2019
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