Singaporeans and NS

In response to the many comments about NS not being tough enough and girls not being appreciative.

All Singaporean boys either dread or looking forward to BMT. Through all the stories we’ve heard about BMT and life in army we either accept the challenge or shudder in fear. However, sooner or later, we all turn 18 and take our first ferry trip to Tekong. I believe many other articles have mentioned many tough activities and moments that NSFs experience during their two years so I shall not give any more examples.

I believe that the “Singaporeans are weak LOL” comment was definitely insensitive and degrading. However, according to what the writer has explained, she made the comment without even reading the article about the most recent death in NS. This sort of trigger-happy comment was uncalled for and ill-timed. The LOL at the end of the sentence could be a manner of speech. In my opinion, since she has already apologised, let’s leave her alone and end all the personal attacks on her, her family and loved ones. I believe it has already turned ugly and the personal attacks have to stop. 

To all servicemen and women who have given their lives in the course of their service, rest in peace.

This post however has to be more incendiary than Singaporeans are weak LOL comment.

I always believed that if you make an accusatory post or comment, be prepared to defend it because the barrage of opposing comments are coming your way.

Before I enlisted, I was probably like the author, believing that if Singapore were to be attacked we would crash and burn with our citizen soldiers running away like hapless babies. Someone once told me that army would “psycho” you into believing that we would be able to win a war should it come to pass and that all army boys believe so when they ORD. It’s been two months since I ORD-ed and I firmly believe that Singapore has got what it takes to fight and win a war with an aggressor. Of course there are our limitations but yes, I’ve seen what equipment the SAF has and the fighting spirit of our men, we can win the war.

Perhaps this author has got the wrong idea when she hears NSFs/NSmen complaining about training. Yes it’s true we do run around in jungles with our rifles, get bitten by every insect unimaginable and get lots of injuries. But love it or hate it, it’s our duty. Singaporeans love to complain, it’s how we pass our time. Army guys love to sit together and complain about our Army days. It’s our national past time since our nation has created that common identity amongst all Singaporean men. From the lawyer to the taxi driver, NS is what they have in common.

But, do not treat our complaints as weakness.

When the siren sounds, I firmly believe that all active NSFs will heed the call to arms and our NSmen would not desert the country that we call home. For it is the time of war that Singapore would need its countrymen the most, not during a financial crisis or territorial dispute. 

On to my next point, yes enlistment is a law. Whether we like it or not, Singaporean boys have to go serve the nation. But should girls feel appreciative? I mean it’s a law after all. Maybe if all the men volunteered then the author would be appreciative? Let’s examine this in this fashion.

For example, Singapore is now at war with Country X. Our soldiers have fought Country X soldiers off our shores and brought the war to their shores trying to ensure that they cannot regroup and attack us again. I’m sure there would be scores of men who have deserted their comrades and fled with their tails between their legs.What of our women and children? I believe they would be supporting the war effort helping make equipment, food and supplies for our soldiers in another country. They would be praying day and night for their husbands, sons and bothers’ safe return. I don’t think there would be any “I don’t give a **** since it’s their duty anyway” attitude during these times. If your (the author) boyfriend/father/husband/son was off fighting the war, you would wish they gave their best during training so they would know what to do when fighting a REAL war.

To the author, I give the benefit of the doubt. The men of Singapore will valiantly defend the nation for our women and children, even for you. If you decide to leave Singapore during times of crises, remember the fallen soldiers when you return back to Singapore for they have kept your lands, culture, way of life, friends and family safe while you cowardly left us. Yes, it may have been their duty to fight the war but they did it so you could live.

For that matter, I believe that the Lim Bo Seng war memorial or any war memorial would have no impact on you because they did it for “duty” and there’s no need for appreciation. I tell you, not only the girls but even the guys should respect, remember and appreciate that they gave their lives for Singapore.

>>>To be continued.

 

ORD LOH!!!

This is a long overdue reflection of my days in Army. But here it is!

I can remember vividly the first day of my enlistment. The night before, Tammy and I were packing what extra stuff I would need in BMT, writing my name on all my barang. I was writing T. KWOK but she was writing THOMAS. K and we were discussing which would be better. The next morning, my parents, Tammy and I were in Tekong and I handed over my pink IC, never to be seen for 1 year and 10 months. And so my Army journey began.

I was in PEGASUS company and I had such wonderful memories there. BMT wasn’t like our father’s days where they beat you down and mould you up. But these days, it’s more of learning from experiences. The people in my section and platoon were awesome. I think my buddy Qing Fa deserves a special mention. I call him Raf, short for Raphael, his Christian name. We shared crazy times together, being punished together for some one else’s mistake, covering each other’s asses. He saved me from guard duty once by leaping onto my rifle and I saved him from a huge centipede crawling on his helmet. They say that in BMT, or Army in general, your buddy will become the most important person in your life for that 2 years. It’s true. Without his encouragement and support, I wouldn’t have made it through the tough times in BMT. Of  course my section was there for each other too. I’m glad that we all turned out ok and had awesome postings after POP. It was a joyous and sad moment, to finally complete our BMT phase but leave your friends for different pastures. I was fortunate and privileged to go to OCS after BMT, much to the joy of my girl. But I owe it to my friends in Pegasus platoon 4, and more importantly, platoon 4 section 2.

My 4D number in pegasus was 4209.

Once in OCS, I realised that BMT was just the appetiser. OCS made the tough times in BMT look like a stroll in the park. It was there that I was stripped down to nothing and treated like dirt. It was there that I made a foolish mistake, I committed a Negligent Discharge, which resulted in a 14 RCP (cadet version of SOL) right after my 10 day field camp. So essentially I couldn’t go home for about a month. And Tammy was leaving for London 2 days after my RCP ended. Those were trying times for me. Being stuck in camp gave me time to think about my existence in Army, ponder about my sufferings in OCS. I never had a conclusion then. But again, I had the support of my wonderful section mates. GOLF Wing Platoon 1 Section 3. And my buddies Yao Hui and then Josh. Both of whom has helped me greatly.

In OCS, there’s a saying that goes: When you’re suffering, look left and look right, your buddies are suffering with you; you are not alone. Without my buddies, I would never have completed OCS service term, got my first GOLD for IPPT, dug the cursed fire trench, navigated in the jungle and most importantly, reach the glorious commissioning day. It was in Golf wing that I saw the best in a man. How self-sacrificing my buddies can be, how they stick their necks out for their friends, how they bounce back from adversity stronger than before and their fighting spirit to achieve what has their goals. Never had I felt camaraderie as strong as this and my only wish was that I were half as good as the men they were.

My 4D numbers in OCS were 1309 then1301

After service term, I was lucky to enter the artillery formation. A new twist to all the infanteering that we had done since BMT. New relationships were forged and lessons learnt. Here in FAOCC (Field Artillery Officer Cadet Course), I saw, again, the best in a man but also the worst in a man. I will not describe the ill things I have seen. I have learnt many new skills and values but the most important of all was integrity. Be true to yourself and be true to your friends. In artillery, we had tough times and joyful times. Never had I taken a longer exam in my life, a 4 hour planning exam beats the longest A level paper hands down. Fast march with at least half our body weight. But we had fun times in the officers mess too.

My 4D numbers were X301 then L101

Finally the awaited day came. We received our swords and our graduating certs but my proudest moment was marching into the parade square during the commissioning parade. My parents and Tammy were there. Tammy came back from London for my commissioning. All the blood, sweat and tears and memories condensed into that 1 bar that I will wear on my chest till the end of my service as a NSmen.

Yes, blood, sweat and tears. Blood, sweat and tears that my buddies and I have shed for 9 months, finally came to an end.

Now being an officer is a whole new ball game. I was posted to 21SA as the Dy S3. Life was very eventful and again, many lessons were learnt. My upper study was very helpful and experienced and he taught me the ways of the Dy S3. Gone were the days trying to shirk responsibility, every morning when I come down from work, that bar on my chest reminds me that it’s time to start performing, living it up. Again it all boils down to responsibility and integrity. Responsible for my work and the guys in the branch and integrity to hold myself together. I have learned that command and control is not only outwards and directed to your men, but also inwards to command and master yourself.

I would like to thank the guys in my branch for teaching me so much, all the precious lessons I’ve learnt, I shall never forget. Gary, Isaac, Desmond, Teng, John, Kai Sheng, Kuan Wei, Chang Lok, Ryan, Rong, Beng, Heng Sui, Roy, Ananda, Fabian, Xerxes, Chee Kiong, Kelvin and of course my beloved Dy S2, Boon Bin and understudies Philbert and Suresh. Not forgetting my batch of officers: Ian Yang, Erusha, Mervin, Rakesh, Zong Ye, Nicholas and BSO Zhide. Thank you for making my life a joy in 21 SA.

During my life in 21 SA, I’ve been to Wallaby and Thunder Warrior. A rare privilege that I am most thankful for. ORD was bittersweet, I’m finally out of a regimented organisation, free to pursue my fancies but also to leave my friends behind.

Finally, for those who would say that Army is a waste of time, I beg to differ. I have learned so much and gained much more out of Army than I would in 2 years in any other organisation. When pushed to the extremes, the true colours of people will emerge and trust me when I say I have seen the best and the worst in people. There are many role models that we can find in army but also many negative examples. Army is what we make of it. Everyone is faced with the same 2 years, you can only gain as much as what you put into it. For those who have yet to enter Army, go in with an open mind and seek to learn new knowledge. For those who are still in Army, try to learn as much as you can and to try new things. For those who have come and gone, don’t forget the things that you have learned back in your glory days.

As of now, my days in Army has drawn to a close and a chapter of my life come to an end. I regret nothing and I am proud to say that I am no longer a boy but a man.

ORD loh!

Army Revelations

Revalations that I had while being stuck in camp for the weekend. Not for punishment but to serve the nation in case somebody decides to do something funny. So I’m ALERT during the weekend to cover the nations hind so we can all go shop, watch HARRY POTTER, eat and play with peace of mind.

Officership in the SAF is quite a lonely job. There’re loads of men and specialists who are waiting for an opportunity to undermine what you do. Some times it’s just healthy seargent vs officer rivalry but to some it can be an obsession if the officer is a real mess up and well…messes things up on a daily basis. It’s comforting to know that most of the men in my unit are friendly to us officers and not officer-adverse since we don’t torture them and stuff. So we do get their respect and sometimes sympathy when we are arrowed to do officer-specific jobs like being on 2 NTM for a week, being safety officer or having to conduct all sorts of stuff.

Being in the army is like being in a two year dream. You wake up and everyone’s in the future. Take a look at your female JC friends, driving cars, second year in university, new stuff. Take a look at your phone, you’re 2 years behind technologically speaking. You haven’t found the time to watch a movie that was screened two years ago. People talking about things that you haven’t even heard of. Off you go to uni and every single morsel of academia has evaporated from your brain. v = u + at seems, at most, vaguely familiar. It’s the start of real life and the end of the dream. It’s like being a stranger in your own land. I used to be able to teach tuition, now I can hardly remember anything. Sometimes, it’s not fair. Why we are called to serve our nation, forfeiting 2 years of our lives to defend a nation whom nobody believes will stand the tide of war. How can we have faith in the army if the very people whom we defend have no faith in it. Is army just a waste of 2 years of our lives? 2 years and more because of reservice. I beg to differ.

The army has taught me many life lessons that the normal pursuit of academia can never provide. That’s why to a certain extent, I believe that the fairer sex should also serve alongside their countrymen in defending the nation. How can you tell if someone is genuinely telling the truth? How should you deal with someone who claims family problems as an excuse? How do you command the respect of your peers without being “wayang”? To some extent, the army experience does simulate real work experience for us most-probable white collared workers. Interactions between your superior and subordinates. Being taught from the ground up and stuff like that. Invaluable experience.

Opposition Rally O.o

GASP! I went to an opposition rally! But who gives a flying ****? All Singaporeans should go to an opposition rally. It’s rather amusing.

So Captain A organised an “outing” to the WP rally at Serangoon stadium yesterday. Initially I didn’t quite want to go especially when it involved rushing all over the damn place just go get my ass to an opposition rally. But I thought, since I’m going to London to study, I’m going to miss the next election in 5 years time! So damn, I have to attend my very first rally as part of my responsibility of a Singaporean citizen to inform myself of whatever devilish mischief or angelic enlightenment the most credible opposition party can bring to Singapore.

GST prices, squeezy MRTs and taxes are but a few of the different fuels the WP used to fan the flames of dissent with the PAP. But personally, these issues are really trivial. In my own words, solved really easily. Squeezy MRTs? Increase MRT frequencies, introduce new bus services or whatnot, not a very difficult problem to solve. I was rather annoyed by it.

Checks and balances. This, I feel is a rather good point. The WP aims to work towards a “first world parliament” of which they didn’t define in their rally which I felt was VERY disappointing but I suppose it means a parliament with more than one voice. They kept stressing that a party with 82 out of 84 seats won’t give a hoot about the public’s needs because they’re so comfortable and no one can stop them. But aside from giving more seats to the opposition, how are they going to provide these checks and balances? I have the impression that they’re just going to oppose any policy the PAP comes up with. Like a rebellious child saying NO! to his mother regardless of what she said. But truth be told, there IS a need for more voices in the parliament to provide more views and the creation of more balanced and well-rounded policies. I quote:

“A party with 82 out of 84 seats will not fight for your future, they will DEFINE your future! Tell you when you can retire, what kind of house to live in, how many kids to have…”

Another issue brought up for contention by the WP is the number of foreigners allowed into Singapore. And they are squeezing the life out of us. They mentioned that we Singaporeans are friendly people and we welcome foreigners but the government is making us hate them because they’re letting too many of them in! With regards to education, I’ve competed with PRC students as well as Vietnamese students in my JC days. I respect them as equals as well as my friends with some I am very close with. However, some of them have even agreed that there are simply too many of them in Singapore and can understand our resent towards their existence in our schools. Yes, foreigners do add colour and flavour to our otherwise mundane and narrow-minded lives. They open our eyes to a “new world” out there. Singaporeans can be very close minded, refusing to seek understanding of different pastures outside our island city.

But there must be a limit.

Like how too many cooks spoil the broth, too many foreigners will only bring about Singapore’s ruin. As correctly pointed out by the opposition, our land mass is already very constrained and housing is inadequate. Bringing in more foreigners than housing property growth spells for disaster. Cheap labour will drive Singaporeans out of their jobs. Singaporeans who contribute to CPF, go back for In Camp Training (ICT) every year to keep themselves ready to defend our nation and help the poor. A balance must be found. A Singaporeans first policy will definitely have its drawbacks but it’s up to the politicians to find that magic balance.