I received the media invitation for this event on 30 July (Wed), but I had ignored it because I do not agree with their publicity stunt:
“With National Day fast floating into view, many of us are eagerly anticipating the National Day Parade with its myriad of activities and different spectacles all in the name of celebrating our Nation’s independence. One of the highlights and main staples of each and every parade is the marching contingent as well as the Parade Commander who leads and commands the Parade.
Which begs the question – What does it take for someone to lead a marching contingent just like how the NDP Parade Commander does? To find out, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) has put together a challenge for members of the public to step up to the plate and show their ‘commanding skills’ and see if they too, have the makings of an officer.
This 2nd August (Friday), from 12pm – 2pm, members of the media are invited to capture scenes of everyday Singaporeans as they put their Officer capabilities to the test.
ARE YOU ‘OFFICER’ ENOUGH?
To take place at the busy Raffles Place area, a platoon of men will be assembled, ready for any ‘capable commander’ to step forward to take command of the troop. Members of the public are invited to show if they too can command a platoon of officers by stepping up to the front of the troop and shouting traditional commands like ‘Sedia’ or ‘Senang Diri’, if these commands are loud, clear and commanding enough, the troop will respond accordingly.
EVERY SINGAPOREAN SON II: The Making of an Officer
The above publicity stunt has been put together to promote the upcoming premiere of the National Geographic Channel (NGC) docu-series Every Singaporean Son II: The Making Of An Officer – a six-part series that documents the 38-week journey of a group of Officer Cadets from the day they enter OCS to the final day when they are commissioned as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces.”
When I read that the organisers wanted to get members of the public to test out their ‘commanding skills’ on a contingent of SAF soldiers, alarm bells were ringing in my head.
Was this idea thought of by a woman or a foreigner who never served NS before?
I am sure my fellow Singaporean brethren who have served our dues in the army would not come up with something as insulting as this.
On hindsight, I should have conveyed my sentiment to the PR person who sent me the event invitation.
For every officer, there is a contingent of foot soldiers to support him or her. Did the organisers consider the sentiment of the many real-life foot soldiers like yours truly; seeing ‘ourselves’ being ordered around by any Tom, Dick, Harry, Mary, Leticia, Thompson, Pornsak, Muthu or Xiaoming?
Yes, it may seems ‘cute’ to have auntie, expats and foreign workers ordering our NS boys around and making a fool out of them. Yes, you will get a lot of attention….
but most of it will not be positive.
Responses have been overwhelming negative so far.
The only thing I am glad to know was that the contingent of soldiers were paid actors and not poor NS boys or NSmen who were forced to volunteer their time.
Nonetheless, an insult is an insult.
It reminds me of the Navy Open House insult when I served my last ICT. The public were invited into Changi Navy Base to make merry and have fun to learn about the navy operations. Nothing wrong about this and I fully support this educational initiative.
The irony was that while the public, including foreigners and tourists are allowed to bring their DSLR cameras and smartphones into the camp and snap away happily at anything they see, NSmen like me who are tasked to protect the camp were not trusted with our camera phones and have to surrender them at the guardhouse. Seriously?
Please show more respect for our NSFs and NSmen. Instead of plying us with SAFRA vouchers, what we want is just due recognition and respect.
Oh… and National Geographic Channel, shame on you. I am boycotting your channel till a formal apology is issued. I urge other NSmen and NSFs as well as their family members to do the same.
“Was this idea thought of by a woman or a foreigner who never served NS before?”
That rhetorical question reeks of misogyny and xenophobia.
It’s fair to express anger at the event and stunt as it is offending many exemplary soldiers, but it’s not fair to point fingers at ‘foreign workers’ and women. Groups of people different from you who did not take part in your experiences are not to blame for the stunt. It’s not any better of anyone to marginalize and label these groups, perhaps it would be more assertive to take the higher path and offer to educate people on the issue without finger-pointing.
1. He should have attended the event, then made an assessment. Apparently, he already prejudged. I feel his opinion was largely influenced by the general public.. 2. The public outcry was started before the truth was heard. Thus, it was a misunderstanding. 3. The focus was on the role of the Commanding Officer, not the soldiers. The soldiers roles were there to support the main event. Some aunties and people like me (who never served NS) might to interested in partaking in such an event. Chance of a lifetime. 4. Singaporeans play it too safe. Dare not push the envelope or rock the boat. Without risks there are no new gains.