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Monday, Sep 16, 2019 - 21:34 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

MR Loh

My National Service commitments are finally over, some fifteen years after my full-time stint, and I can't deny that it's been a bit of a slog, mostly as I'm no true soldier by temperament (which I'd suspect would apply to many of my peers). Now, I've weathered enough of the nation-building propaganda myself, but can still grudgingly acknowledge the logic behind shaking every guy down for 2+ years of their lives - allow exceptions, and you'll soon realize just how many out there would be willing to game the system. I'd gather the generals and politicians holding forth on the privilege thereof of serving would really not want to have this assertion put to the test by making service entirely voluntary, and observe just how many of our hot-blooded young lads agree by joining up...

True, this might destroy most of our best (e-)sports talents (now that it's making big money; Ben Davis has just debuted for Fulham, and understandably isn't returning), but this and the oft-unrealized corollary from the Patrick Tan saga send the same message - however talented or privileged one might be, the Singapore Armed Forces is still gonna own your ass for two years, cushy vocation as it may be. The new cybersecurity operator role (moreover leading to a bona-fide degree) would seem a no-brainer to many who're aiming for that field anyway, and gives new meaning to the "keyboard warrior" phrase.

Part of the (oft-anonymously-expressed) resentment towards NS, one supposes, stems from military service by and large not being particularly respected here, in contrast to say the U.S. (long-term treatment of down-and-out veterans aside), perhaps best exemplified by a poor recruit standing in an empty MRT carriage a few years back, probably out of fear of being STOMP-ed by nosy civilians and signing extras. This disdain for conscripts has deep roots in Chinese culture by the way, where it was common for mainly criminals and other unsavoury characters to get roped into the ranks; accordingly, being an official/officer mitigates this effect somewhat.

Well, it is fortunate that most NSmen - of all ranks - are in my estimation fairly decent chaps who're just out to complete their duty, and my unit was for one humane enough to arrange a convenient six-day ICT with free weekend, for which I'm grateful (the current reservist commitment is 10 NS cycles including 7 [high-key] ICTs of seven days or more, for non-commanders, with seven or more total service days separately accrued in a work-year, also counting as a high-key ICT). On the other popular complaint, the food, I've never had much of an issue; in fact, I'm kinda surprised at how many NSmen make it a point to patronize the canteen - and pay - for all their meals. Perhaps it is the availability of choice and self-determination, however minor, in an otherwise technically completely regimented environment (note: finally figured out possibly why backpack straps had to be taped, back in basic training)?

And a final appeal from a guy who's run the course - the authorities might consider the unspoken sacrifice, especially by the self-employed and vulnerable/marginal employees. There seems to be a certain dismissal of the very idea that bosses might view reservist commitments as a career handicap, which I'd gather is actually not at all uncommon. Some latitude in this respect, I figure, would be very much appreciated.

Got MR cert, doesn't matter anymore
[N.B. Shopee's expanding fast, it has to be said]

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