Volunteers join march to boost community ties

Madam Periasamy Savithri, 70, a volunteer with Citizens on Patrol, marched with Home Team officers at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night. It was the mother of three's first time marching in a parade.
Madam Periasamy Savithri, 70, a volunteer with Citizens on Patrol, marched with Home Team officers at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night. It was the mother of three's first time marching in a parade.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

About twice a month for the past five years, retiree Periasamy Savithri, 70, has patrolled her Woodlands neighbourhood on foot with other residents to help keep it safe.

Yesterday, the Citizens on Patrol (COP) volunteer, along with her son and daughter-in-law, marched with Home Team officers at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. It was the mother of three's first time marching in a parade.

"It has been tiring but, overall, a good experience," she said. "I would do it again."

They were with the volunteer contingent at the four-day Home Team Show, which culminated in a gala attended by President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife Mary last night.

Besides paying tribute to officers and national servicemen, the event aims to raise awareness about the Home Team's work, emphasising the need for community partnership.

The message resonated with Madam Savithri, who said she hopes that more will join the COP to do their part in keeping their neighbourhoods safe.

Rota Commander Koh Guan Chong, 25, of the Singapore Civil Defence Force, said it was an honour to be asked to march in the parade.

"There have been some misconceptions about the Home Team; people are not aware of how many agencies there are, and what these agencies are," said Captain Koh, who is based at Alexandra Fire Station. "With this, I hope that members of the public will have a better understanding of what we do."

Student Chen Meng Yee, 16, who is with the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) and marched in the parade, said: "We all have a role to play in Singapore's defence, even as NPCC cadets and students."

He added that he and his schoolmates volunteered to help spread the SGSecure message at his school - Hwa Chong Institution.

Aspiring singer and actress Melissa Hecker from Temasek Primary School, who sang last night at the event, said she was proud that the show celebrated Home Team officers - including her aunt and uncle, who are with the police force. The 12-year-old previously performed at local singer-songwriter Dick Lee's 60th birthday concert at the Star Theatre, which sits 5,000 people.

The Home Team Festival, with free exhibitions showcasing the work of various agencies and the technologies adopted, started on Wednesday and ends today.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 07, 2017, with the headline 'Volunteers join march to boost community ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe