On National Service - Alvinology

On National Service

On National Service - Alvinology

I did not expect my rant last week on our National Service (NS) system to trigger such a strong reaction. 

By NS, I am referring to the entire package of two years compulsory full time service, annual ICT and IPPT/RT/IPT for ten work years and the constant threat of military law. I am not referring to just the two years compulsory service alone.

The post has garnered over 100,000 page views over one weekend, with over 6,000 facebook shares and still spreading like wildfire. 

For regular readers of my blog, you will know that I have always been unhappy with our unfair NS system. I am unabashed about this and am used to Rambo-types calling me all sorts of names because of this.

I read through all the comments, it seems to be a 70-30 split with majority support for a review of the NS system.

NS is a very big discussion topic.

Some of the comments seem to be going off-tangent while others are delving too deep into specific experiences for any meaningful discussion.

I would like to make some clarifications in response to where I stand on the whole NS debate:

1. I do no advocate compulsory two years NS for women or foreigners. Yes, it will make everyone equally miserable, but it will not make me any better off than I was before.

I just want our government to review the whole system thoroughly and improve on it to make Singapore men less worse off.

An eye for an eye will only make the whole world go blind – Ghandi.


2. I do not have the perfect answer to how the system can be improved. It is the job of the full time staff in MINDEF and SAF to look into it. This does not mean I am not qualified to complain. If you are served a piece of rotten chicken at KFC, do you need to be able to show the kitchen staff how to cook the chicken before you can say anything?

Please don’t give me crap about “constructive criticism”. It is my most hated two words which are ironically, oxymoron. They are convenient replies to cull off any meaning debates by forcing people to come up with solutions before they can even raise any problem.


3. Yes, the issue of foreigners influx is closely linked to the unfairness of the NS system. However, I am not against foreigners.

I  do not blame foreigners for coming in and compete with us for jobs. In fact, I applaud and respect them for having the courage to seize the opportunity when they see it.

Everyone is in search of a better life and if I were in their shoes, I would have done the same. Our government policies allow it to be this way.


4. While my main grouse is with the unfairness of the system, I won’t deny I am also partially looking out for my own self interest and comfort when ranting off against the current NS system. What is wrong with that? Nation before self? Come on… let’s get real.

If you found a loaf of bread during a famine and you know your wife and son as well as the soldiers defending your land are starving to death, would you give the bread to the soldiers because you believe in nation before self? Let yourself, your wife and son starve to death because the nation is more important? Seriously?

I can be altruistic and giving up to a certain level. At some stage, you have to fend for yourself, your family and your loved ones. Unless you are an extraordinary martyr of sort like Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela, which I am not.

Even our Ministers justified their high salaries with the same self-serving logic. Why can’t I do the same as an ordinary Singaporean?


5. I won’t say I have gained nothing during my two and a half years as a full-time serviceman or during my annual ICTs. I made many lifelong friends to keep and the shared camaraderie was priceless.

However, these experiences have nothing to do with criticism of the NS system as a whole.  I do not understand why some pro-NS types keep harping on these as rationale to keep the NS system the way it is.


6. I am very against the restriction of freedom to live life the way I want it, even after I have completed two and a half-year of full-time service. It is not so much about the specifics of having to cut my hair short or attending RT/IPTs or applying for exit permits. It is not having the free option to do otherwise that pisses me off.

Some people are more free-spirited than others. I do not like regimentation. I can tolerate it in the short term (two years), but having it imposed on me for more than half of my entire lifespan is really hard to bear.

NS (reservist) is a part-time job with full-time commitment, subjected to a unique set of military laws where you can get jailed for minor stuff like forgetting to take your IPPT. Fair?

Isn’t this akin to modern slavery?


7. For those who keep asking me to AWOL, migrate or get out of Singapore if I am unhappy with the system, I am very sorry your worldview is so narrow you cannot even accept difference in opinions.

I never said I am not proud of my country or what we have achieved. However, I believe we can do better.


8. Seriously, it is time to review the whole NS and reservist system. 

  1. Will NOT be perpetuated onto my sons. I served 2 1/2 yrs plus reservists duties etc, so I am entitled to criticise and decide on my sons future.

  2. I too agree that there is problem on the curtailing of our freedom after we have done 2 years of NS. During my nsf days I have seen incekh asking the poor NS men to cut their hair and redye it black just to do their ICT, I mean cant you just do the ICT without all these stupid rules? Makes people resent it beyond just the time they give up.

  3. Hi Alvin,

    I’m sorry for upsetting you on my quip on “constructive criticisms”. On a personal note, I was just a little disappointed when people started firing personal attacks at me because I’m a female. That being said, what I meant about “constructive criticisms” was veering more to the side of adding value and perspectives to all these talk, rather than looking for solutions. Solutions are not up to us to think about, are they? =)

    Nonetheless, insults aside, I like how some of the comments gave me so much new perspectives on how you all feel about NS. And all these problems just get worse because our birth rate is plunging to new lows. With the limited number of men around, I don’t know if things can get worse since NS needs you even more in the future.

    As a HR personnel, all that I can do on my part, is to advocate for higher pay for men to compensate for their lack of freedom and the 2 years of vacuum — which is part of the “initiatives” I’ve earlier spoken about. This would range from around 300-700/month more than girls for the starting salary, and it’ll also receive increments on a yearly basis. I know this is not enough. Money can never buy back time. However, there’s also a limit to how much my meagre effort can bring me to. I hope I’m making a change, a baby step at a time.

    Whether we are happy with the system or not, one thing stays true — I respect all you guys as NS men, and I recognise the effort and sacrifices that you all have to make for the country. I’m sure many girls think the same way too.


  4. janice.. monetary always seem like a good idea.. but doesn’t this makes singaporean male more prone to discrimination? singapore males become more expensive to hire and will force employers to look at alternatives.. and to be honest, how many employers in the private sectors actually follows this guideline? the government have to do much better to at least put singaporean males on equal footing with others.. they are not even close to talk about compensating for our loses..

  5. I totally agree on what was said in this post, namely cause I am one of those free-spirited types that was mentioned in the post. I can act the role for awhile, but keeping the act up for half my life is more than tough, its psychologically taxing. I am not one of those guys who get on well when kept within a compound, or given a fixed set of lifestyle rules to follow. Tell me to go touch the tree and come back and I would question how that particular exercise helps strengthen the body, or are we doing it because the tree is particularly lonely and emotional. Ask me to wake up at 6am in the morning for an activity that takes place 3 hours later and I wanna know if SAF really takes that long to prepare a small activity (how long would they need to prepare for war then?) or if the CO is really that eager to see everybody.
    Needless to say I suppressed all these thoughts while i was still doing full time NS, but the joy you feel when you ORD is only as long as the time it takes for the first reservist letter to get to you. From then on, its just small nightmares piling up one after another.
    You are required to pass your ippt every year. I was a gold standard runner during my in camp days, cause well, i basically had nothing better to do than to run all day. I have my own business now, with deadlines to meet, with clients to entertain, with money to make. Yes, i have gotten rounder, smoke more intensively now, and probably can’t even meet the copper standard (if there was one) in running even if a lion is chasing after me, but I am contributing to the national economy, i am fulfilling my duties as a citizen by paying my taxes, i am obeying the law, and I am trying my darn-est to contribute towards our supposed dwindling population, so by all counts I am a patriotic citizen. Telling me I am going to go to jail cause i can’t find the time to go for some fitness appointment with the army or a gathering with old friends to compare burgeoning beer bellies and nothing much of anything else, and I really question the intellect and the psychological health of the authorities in question.
    The majority of us already struggle to try and keep up with the increasing cost of everything from flats, to cars to alimony, yet we still have to deal with the stress of having to keep fit (by IPPT standards, not the i-can-jog-without-losing-my-breath-and-my-waistline-is-not-a-size-49 standard), of having to go back for reservist to well, lay in my bunk bed all day and occasionally crawling out of it to do “sai kang”, and having to dye my hair black and cut it short after having grown it out and coloured it 7 times since the last in-camp. I want the freedom to be able to say, “i paid my dues! I have given you 2 years of my life to prepare for my country’s defence, even though i was forced to! Now let me go lead the rest of my life in peace!” But hey, freedom is just an ideology in this country no isn’t it? Ironic that we fight to protect the freedom of our country, so that our country can continue to restrict the freedom of its citizens.

    Don’t get me wrong as well. I am for NS, but just for the mandatory part. It helps give the increasing number of spoilt brats in our country a dose of reality, and a short stint of regimented lifestyle does wonders for a man’s growth (hmm..that sounds a little..), but I really would like that it stays as a 2 year thing. You know, like a childhood lover whom you learn a lot from about love, about relationships, and biology, but would definitely not want to see her again, year after year.

    After all, if we wanted our NS to last us half a lifetime, we would have signed on, or to continue the analogy, we would have married that motherf***ingb**ch!

  6. How about $50 per diem extra allowance for each day of reservist training? Make it tax free too. The politicians are being paid for their time as MPs and I do not deny that it takes time from their private life that they could have spent with their family and they are compensated. Why not NSMen? Perhaps the alowance be put into the medisave to help pay for the health insurances to help their medical cost.

  7. Solution is very simple. Slash the salaries of our “top” ministers. Re-allocate these salaries to raise a professional army – these are people who actually have the passion to contribute or cynically by the lure of good money. Whichever it is, is better than a low moral army recruits who do not take the service seriously.

  8. South Korea, Taiwan and Israel all have NS maybe can change the SG model to something more like what other countries are doing. Better yet, just let soldiers be soldiers. But if you want to change the system, you need to change the people who run it. Singaporeans, you want change? Then do something different in 2016!

  9. I understand with much you have said. I think your views are generally reasonable. I hope to comment on two parts. I. When there is a piece if bread left, your wife, your kids and i are hungry, i believe i would let them have it. I would protect them too – because they are part of my home, my country. I don’t think doing NS nor reservist should be likened to slavery. I don’t enjoy it but i know that one day when we are being bullied, i would be grateful that i know how to use a weapon, how to work with my fellow-countrymen to fight back, and salvage our pride. So not slavery but merely a not-so-pleasant investment.

  10. Alvin,

    You serve NS so that your grand mother, mother, sister, wife and daughter can sleep tight at night knowing that a ‘Singaporean son’ will protect them. Guys, look beyond your walls of selfish self centered universe and for once think about these people you care about. 2.5 years is a small price to pay.

  11. @ryan, i’m not sure if you know how to read or…. alvin already mentioned that serving the 2.5 years is of no problem to him, and that it’s the lack of freedom AFTER that 2.5 years is the one that he is disagreeing about. i believe you are just another one of those RAMBO guys that alvin mentioned.

    quote “However, these experiences have nothing to do with criticism of the NS system as a whole. I do not understand why some pro-NS types keep harping on these as rationale to keep the NS system the way it is”

    learn how to read.

  12. I largely agree with the post and join the writer in calling for a review. This Strengthening NS conversation is simply evading the key issue by claiming that they are not interested in reviewing the Government’s general NS policy.
    Just some brief points to make:
    If you want the lifelong friends to keep and shared camaraderie, you can have a social camp, go join a meaningful community organisation that really contributes to society or something. Not 2 years and more fighting shadows together in the forest cooking maggi mee.

    All these protecting your ” mother, sister, wife , girlfriend, children, etc etc” are all rubbish and part of the Total Defence/ some SAF campaign. Come wartime, everyone will fend for themselves and their love ones ONLY. So during the war , if i need to gun down my Commanding Officer to make sure my loved ones got enough food (imagine, purely hypothetical), i will do that instead of gunning the enemy. period.

    Our SAF top officers doesn’t really have REAL, PURPOSEFUL operation experiences. They are mostly scholars waiting to be parachuted into certain civilian agencies. We should just give up.

    And i think Singapore really doesn’t need the citizen soldiers. The Infantry is not going to have much chances. Singapore doesn’t really have much places to fight either. I say we be focused. An excellent Air Force, Navy and Missiles Team. Maybe some commandos and guards. The rest of SAF? they are probably not very useful in the SAF if you think harder.

  13. I think 6 months of National Service is good enough. Let them pursue their career or continue with their unfinished study as early as possible so as they are financially stable to build a family. Cost of living is so high !

  14. I totally agree with the points that you have raised. NS to some extent also cause us to be behind in our academic pursuits. Having two and a half years of your time taken to do NS sets is back a lot compared to our country. My friends from other countries are already attending universities at the ages of 17 and 18. While after NS, we will only enter university at the age of maybe 20? Within those extra years, they can easily build up a better resume and have more opportunities while NS more or less don’t give you shit when you graduate. Just my 2cents

  15. NS is a massive WASTE OF TIME! The only reason it still persists is because of how bloated it has become.

    1) Do we honestly believe our reservists are able to conduct a war in reality? Us versus a real soldier like the Gurkhas…

    2) NS was started as we were a young nation and needed a conscription service. It is not relevant anymore. Why not use the resources in terms of cash and manpower to actually train and maintain a real full time army force aka the “Regulars”?

    Yes, the numbers will drop dramatically but at least we have real soldiers. The regulars can go on overseas assignments in war-torn parts of the world to get meaningful experiences. Our current overseas assignments are mainly to do area cleaning while the “angmoh” forces do the real work. Please lah, have some pride. Pay our regulars more so that they can actually have a real career being a military man. Can we really afford to have this “wayang” show in our nation in todays age? Our reservists are fat and unfit, our regulars are just as bad. With the current state of affairs, why bother? Just so the Ministry of Defence can continue to draw their fat and unjustified paychecks?

    3) In todays world, if you are an SME… can you afford to have a staff that needs to be away from his job for extended periods ranging from 2 weeks to a month? Seriously? Lets not talk about some government job or in a GLC like Singtel… In a real SME, every headcount is meaningful. If the business can do without you for a whole month, they don’t need you. Lets be honest about it. Hence, most bosses prefer to hire PRs or foreigners. Its essential for business planning to have your staff on operationally ready terms (to quote MINDEF speak). So much for doing something for entrepreneurship in Singapore.

    In conclusion, YES I do believe we need some form of national defense. NO, I do not believe this current NS system serves that purpose.

    To PAP: If you do not believe me, send a battalion of reservists into Afghanistan now and have them do some real duty. Lets see how many body bags we get versus other countries…

  16. @ryan, f you man! lts people like you that always sa-boh and spoil market. And Alvin my man, you should organise a rally at Speakers’ Corner, sure huge turn-out! Only rallys like these can make ‘them’ wake up their fucking idea.

    1. Regardless how much we rant and comment on the net, its not gonna change the system or anything. i doubt even anybody of consequences is reading about whatever is going on on the net.

  17. ryan, don’t be stupid.
    When there’s war, you will be recalled.
    No one will protect your grandmother’s pussy, your mother’s hai, your wife’s fanny, your sister’s cat and your little girl’s little girl, they will still be ravaged!

  18. totally agree! we are fighting for survival everyday in our real civilian lives to either make ends meet or make lives better for our families. damn ^%$# when going back camp and hear stupid SAF rhetoric of “if tmr we go to war”… Fuck la. Dun screw us to train for an imaginary battle for you to earn your monthly pay!… and for those who buy into the “just so your grand mother, mother, sister, wife and daughter can sleep tight at night ” reasoning,…. just go ask your grand mother, mother, sister, wife and daughter if they really sleep tight becos you are in NS>>> wake up!!

  19. I am appalled to see the numerous posts of men who has been through NS, and probably reservist too, lament so aggressively at the thought of ‘sacrificing’ their lives through the 2 years and thereafter.

    You boys are really really upset, huh?

    What is this freedom you talk about that is lacking in your life? Freedom should not be simply thinking or acting at your own will. That’s irresponsibility. It should be the strength to refuse to be restrained from the power of others n the conviction to not give up in the face of challenges. It seems like you are not liberated from yourself, instead of the army. Be realistic. Would you feel total freedom without the callbacks to serve your reservist?

    If every guy thinks this way, I foresee a time when disaster really strikes and you think to yourselves while giving that last loaf of bread to your family, “Where is the Army? What are they doing, not protecting the people,” realising belatedly that these fellows also thought of themselves first too, and are not prepared to be real men to fight for their families in the front-lines.

  20. Andry
    Another dumbass, you might be the only idiot who would answer the call when it comes to war, leaving your parents, wife and daughter behind, leaving them vulnerable. So much for protecting your love ones.

  21. you are paid to do NS. you are COMPENSATED to do reservist. you know what many NSmen call it when they go back? gahmen paid holiday. and you dare to compare this to slavery? do you know any people whose ancestors were actually slaves?? are you whipped in the fields and raped by your owners and shot dead for trying to run away? are you sold at auction? please get some fucking perspective.

  22. Hi, I am a 31 years old “new citizen”, who served NS and have done several in-camp training. In 1996, I came from Hong Kong to study in Singapore, as a second generation PR. The next year, 1997, Hong Kong was handed over to China. I think it is the first wave of mass immigration to Singapore in the last 2 decades; the housing price in Singapore sky-rocketed that year.

    As soon as I finished NS, I flew overseas for study. I was dying to have a taste of freedom, after 2 and a half years of regimental lifestyle. I spent 7 years overseas for both study and work. 3 years ago, I came back to Singapore, and I found that this country had changed dramatically.

    I saw many landmark buildings such as Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands for the first time. It is a sign that Singapore has made another leap forward in economic progress. Socially, however, Singapore has become a less cohesive place. I have been frequently asked by strangers (taxi drivers, salesman, etc) whether I am a Singaporean. This is a question that embarasses me. Any naturalised American citizen can say proudly that “I am an American”. Although I wish to be counted as a Singaporean, just like all my platoon mates, I find it hard to be accepted as such.

    Every time I show my pink IC, “the country of birth” will betray the fact, that I was not born here. Every time, I say something, my accent gives everything away.

    I did not remember, that I was looked upon negatively, when I was in secondary school or in NS, just because I was a foreigner. Maybe I was just too young to be aware of that. That is the memory of those good old days, that I cherish.

    Having described myself, I would like to offer my opinion on the present subject, since I myself have experienced it firsthand.

    On the length of national service, I personally think that it can be shortened furthur: It is 12 months in Taiwan. As for reservist training, I was initially shocked to see that reservist training is so “slack”, compared to full time NS. From a positive point of view, it can be taken as additional annual leave with some inconvenient restriction. However, this compulsory “annual leave” does disadvantage me in my career, because my company employs 70% non-Singaporeans.

    In regard to the pay a NS recruit should receive, I suggest that the Government makes a meaningful contribution to his CPF ordinary account. He can use his CPF to finance his student loan and HDB flat.

    Thank you for reading. 🙂

  23. Alvin,
    I agree with you on everything that you stated. Fully.
    To some who brushed Alvin off as an ingrate, or a weakling, or just something else nasty along the lines: We are contributing to Singapore, in one way or another. Male or female, local or foreign.

    It takes courage to remain silent and go through what you have to go through. It takes an even larger, bolder heart to speak out and ask some real questions to improve the system. I personally feel that Alvin is doing this in the right manner. Compelling logical questions, in his personal blog (internet space), without any interference to anyone’s daily lives, without any intention to bring about any conflict. Alvin’s posts give us points to ponder and discuss about, be it for our or his comfort, but it can be for the good of the country too, when some of us approach the discussion from the angle of the country. We might not be able to change the system, but we can definitely be able to start a little spark of something positive? =)

    To this, I commend Alvin for taking his time, to structure his thoughts and share them with us, that we can all contribute to the country, in a new, different manner.
    (No one remembers the companions of Gandhi who supported silently. Everyone remembers Gandhi for making a stand. Everyone admires Gandhi for doing it in an appropriate manner. And most of all, India is free, because Gandhi had the courage to ask the questions and make the stand.)

  24. A little suggestion here that might be able to improve the situation that we, NSMen, and Singapore face together: Individual Fitness.

    A little reminder that since the SAF is willing to allow NSF to serve a shorter period of 1 year 10 months of NS when they passed their NAPFA prior to enlistment. It might be a good idea to reduce the ICT, as an incentive, based on the IPPT results. Let me work it out for you how the idea works:

    1) NSMen who achieved the GOLD standard for their IPPT after their ORD, will have a year of ICT reduced. Which means, should an NSMen achieved 5 GOLD standards, he will just be required to be called back for ICT for 5 years, as the last 5 years are removed as incentives.

    2) NSMen who achieved the SILVER standard for their IPPT, well, I have not exactly thought in detail about this, but if anyone thinks this may be a good idea and has some input, please do! =D

    My rationale is, normal ICT consists of 7 high keys, and 3 low keys. This can be worked out to 2 low keys (first and last of the 5 ICT) and 3 high keys (including an ATEC). The ATEC is necessary and preferably done by the 3rd high key, as this idea serves “pull” motivation using incentives, than to “push” motivation using punishments, and with such system, we might be more motivated and be trained better. (hopefully).

    Rationale for having short ICT is warranted, since technical training such as weapon handling and shooting accuracy can be managed within a couple of days. And given the advanced technology of our intelligence system, we should be able to anticipate and prepare a few days earlier technically for any imminent threats. Most ICTs, are rather, conducting for training for military drills (not marching, but drills like taking up of defensive positions and attacking maneuvers), which is still relevant, but not so in the near future, as with the GPS system, we can know where to position ourselves defensively with ease, and with the improve in weapons technology, we can too, maneuver offensively. It might sound too optimistic, but it can surely be worked out one way or another, so long as we don’t give up.

    This idea can serve to push people to strive for the best. And many others who would not want to lag behind, to put in some considerable efforts also (incentives for Silver and Pass will help more in this case). It will not only help keep us fit and motivated to be fit, it gives us a strong sense of purpose to strive for.

    We can consider having RT as a bonding as well as family exercise program, not to be held only in camps. Or a local community exercise program being recognised and rewarded for the participants, as an alternative to RT too.

    The incentives may not be monetary, but hopefully it sounds attractive enough for most of us to do something about it.

    All in all, with more efficient and flexible training systems that is more relevant to our current status of being a 3G Army, we can tweak to motivate many, and to bring out their inner passion for the nation also. Besides, the economy will be further boosted with our NSMen being able to juggle career, national obligations, and family in a more efficient, and rewarding manner.

    It might not be a great idea, but at least, it is something! ^^

  25. And yet another dumbass timothy!!!

    You don’t call $400 PAID to do NS! Tell me you are earning $400 a month if you’re not doing NS? Ministers sacrifice, they pay themselves millions, other people sacrifice to protect this fucking country and it’s $400? Fuck you man!

    What do you mean compensated to do reservist? That’s assuming you even have a job while called up for reservist, if you’re jobless, you’re not fucking paid!

    NSmen who calls it a holiday are salaried workers who can’t wait to get away from their jobs, get this in your narrow head. There are business owners or commission based workers who cannot afford to be away for 2 fucking weeks just for this pointless reservist or those rt/ippt crap!

  26. austen15, you are polite and I shall be nice in my reply
    IPPT is necessarily a good measurement of fitness, I’m slightly overweight and barely managed to pass with the forced help of IPT. I have friends who are much fitter but yet they fail the simplest stations like sit up, shuttle run or board jump, they just can’t pass and they have to go RT every year.. But does that mean they are unfit??

  27. Oops, in my haste, I made a mistake. I refer to: “…The ATEC is necessary and preferably done by the 3rd high key, as this idea serves “pull” motivation using incentives, than to “push” motivation using punishments, and with such system, we might be more motivated and be trained better…”

    I meant to say the ATEC is necessary as it maintains the army at a considerable standard. And to be done earlier, on the 3rd high key, as the NSMen will be fit, motivated, and be willing to give more.

    By the way, the reducing of ICT is currently in practice, but by having a good ATEC results in some reservist units. If this idea is in place, I see no reason why we shouldn’t discuss on taking it up another notch, bringing in IPPT into the picture.

    If fitness is of concern past 5 years of ICT (should an NSMen indeed achieved 5 GOLD standards), this is the reason for the local community exercise program, with incentives and such. More to be discussed as I am out of ideas currently.

    With the current Y generation, people are more motivated to strive for a purpose, than being motivated due to not wanting to be punished. This is my opinion and is not based on any factual evidence or statistics. =D

  28. Hi NS my ass,
    Thank you for being patient with me.
    The IPPT that I was referring to, can not to mean the current IPPT standard. We can work something out that is more relevant in today’s world. Running is essential, but the standard of 2.4 km for NSMen in that certain timing, is in some ways, unrealistic. As many have pointed out, including you, that different people has different physiques. As with the military “position or vocation”, not every one is able to do every vocation. So different standards can be used as a relevant gauge of fitness.
    Thank you for reminding me of this point. I hope these issues can be resolved in an amicable way, and hopefully in a win-win situation as much as possible. =D

  29. By the way, I stand by the importance of having NS. Although we might argue validly that no country will wage war with us and damage our infrastructure, but having an army of a considerable size is to serve as a deterrence, not to threats of war, but on countries having an edge upon us in negotiation. I’m certain none of us will love it that we are held to “ransom of sorts” by having to meet the demands of other countries in exchange for diplomacy. The army serves as a backup to our government in these relationships, that we can have a ground to negotiate on slightly more fair and even grounds.

    LAZY, aka, austen15

  30. A well written article. I believe there’s definitely more that can be done to make NSF/NSmen feel more appreciated for their contributions. Conscientious efforts have to be put in not just by MINDEF,/govt but the society as a whole. News like NSF getting STOMPED for sleeping on the train and citizens mocking NSF as “weak” for dying during training are simply disheartening. Its a Uniquely Singapore culture for NSF/NSmen to be picked on and looked down upon.

    1. I thought tha the whole training was less tedious version in the past to break you down and build back to be dispoable soldier.

  31. I agree that the NS policy needs to be reviewed and is a massive waste of time for most people. It is obviously not a simple problem.

    However, I find it alarming that no one points out how insulting and self-absorbed comparing NS to slavery is, even ‘modern day’. Some of these ‘slaves’ built Singapore, and nothing about NS that you or I experienced is close to the suffering they had. When you next enjoy your meals at MBS or Bukit Timah, think about the classy salad that child soldiers are enjoying in Africa these days. When you next take your Jetstar or SIA a flight, put yourself in the shoes of the young ladies and men who are being trafficked around the world in the modern day. Then perhaps you can recalibrate and be thankful that you have the freedom to pose your thoughts online in modern day Singapore.

  32. Yes I agree that NS is compulsory and should not be abolished, but the system that was spearheaded in the 1960s by the Govt’s an extreme measure to build up its national defense due to our vulnerability , aka “conscription”. This very same system introduced years ago was to safeguard our territorial positioning and whatever meager resources we have. However, with the ever evolving world we have revolutionized and this retarded system needs to move forward with time. It’s irrelevant and conscription is, and will be obsolete; aka waste of my time. You kidding bro?!

    I’m still serving my 2 years compulsory National Service. I don’t feel a sense of patriotism and belonging to the country. I don’t see a point for me in doing my utmost while my effort is not being recognized by the Govt. The whole NS system is all about ‘tekan’ and charging and whatever nonsense they can come up with, and I believe they find pleasure in our misery. If they are really looking into building a strong and robust force they should allocate resources into building a DEDICATED group of soldiers who are willing to fight for the country at all cost. (Probably they will die as a virgin too, wth no life). This system needs a review. Period.

  33. NS has always been a hot topic for Singaporeans. I remember every single one of my platoon mates complaining about it and why we’re doing all the shit in army. Thinking that why are we treated worse than a bangala construction worker? NSF are paid much lesser than a construction worker Singapore. This makes us feel maybe we’re slaves? It was a very negative environment. No matter how many brainwash sessions and NS talks we had, it didn’t change the fact that we didn’t like it. Of course every singaporean male will know the importance of protecting our country because we cannot take things for granted. This is the value instilled in everyone of us who went through NS.

    However, I realised we’ve lost the sense of owning a country. Some how the singapore now doesn’t feel as much like home anymore. Is it because I’ve grown up and gone through the regimental NS? Still being succumbed to the regimental regime for the next few years even when I ORDed. Constantly being reminded to take IPPT, ops manning notification, SAF 10 for reservist, notify for overseas trips. All of these with threatening messages that I’ll be charged if I did not abide by it. Does this feel like the love you get from a home? I don’t think so.

  34. Totally agree to remove NS as flaxseed wrote. Increase the salary of military people so will draw more people who wants to have career in military and they will give their full attention and effort in serving the country.

  35. Nice post.

    Just one little nitpick, on point 4 – Mother Teresa wasn’t a very good example to use in this case.

    Among the many criticisms that have been levelled at her, I think there is one that specifically dilutes your argument somewhat: this “saint” was known to actively preserve the run-down conditions in her orphanages and/or missions in order to intensify the level of suffering of the people under her care, in the misguided belief that this would bring them closer to Jesus…

    Given that the thrust of your post is that the NS system perpetuates suffering, I thought I’d point out how using her as an example of altruism came across as jarring for me!

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa#Criticism

  36. Here is what i have to say, for those females, STFU. I with Alvin on this one. We are not asking to abandon the whole system, we are asking to review it. Things such as 10 cycles (years) are unnecessary! I remind you, if you don’t clock in enough high keys, you WILL NEED TO SERVE MORE until you clock in that high keys. And those IPPT system and the whole regiment shit like school boy hair cuts…. WTF !!

    I feel alvin’s pain. And please, things are much worse when you come back for reservist for units like Commandos and Guards… i myself is personally from 745 Guards unit. Its no holiday period! it felt like you just got enlisted for NS as recruits.

  37. Needs a real war to bring back singaporeans back to protecting their country… Though understandably, Msia and Indonesia and the rest of the corrupt countries of SEA will protect SG thru thick and thin as the dirty money is parked here!

  38. Captains, majors, colonels, generals..there are thousands of these fellas around in SAF, and they are getting paid very very well and some with their own fancy cars with army plates( i wonder who pays all these luxuries), and what do they actually do?? Every morning 8am running around parade square with their ‘human companion dogs’, attend some seminars here and there. Seriously, SAF spends billions yearly is partly due to these ‘extras’ these ‘calafares’ which are a waste of tax payers money. And poor NSFs getting few hundred evey month. Outright ridiculous!

  39. Totally agree that the system needs review.
    Had a discussion during reservist, about the reason why there was even a need to report when you left the country, when they already had the intelligence all along.

    If they had the data, and sent you a warning letter after perpetuating, why was there even a need to keep Mindef informed in the first place?

    Came to the conclusion it’s all a power play. To keep the populace in its place, to question the powers that be as minimally as possible. A male population that plays nice and succumbs makes for a fantastic business environment for the international community.

    What they fail to realize however, is the more educated a population gets, the more holes they find in the systems to be brought up for address (Evidently by our last election and consequent discussions up to this point)
    It is the natural progress for any developing/developed society, resulting in the current western model of having redress shaped in the parties they supported in election. No doubt there are drawbacks to this bi-partisan mode of government (recent US govt shutdown anyone?) But true democracy should allow even the smallest and weakest the right to voice his concerns.

    ”I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

    I digress.

    I appreciate what the government has done up to this point, in trying to show their appreciation to the NSman, but more has to be done.

    If Taiwan and South Korea (with their obvious threats) are able to cut back on military conscription and reservist years, there’s really no excuse that the same cannot be done here.

    Basically, a citizen would like some things skewed in his favour, for simple reason of being a citizen of that country.

    Yes, even if it means being slightly less ‘formidable’ as a business hub.

  40. We are small country by size. If we don’t protect ourselves, who will? Isn’t World War 2 a good lesson for us? Or it’s just that the younger generations are forgetting what happened back then?

  41. @Singaporean (October 8, 2013 at 11:54 am):

    You are missing the point.

    – Being bound to a 10-year Reservist cycle which places Singapore men at a disadvantage in the workplace does not equal “Protecting ourselves”.
    – Having to do weeks of RT because one failed IPPT for not being able to do X number of pull-ups or jump Y cm from a standing position does not equal “Protecting ourselves”.
    – Being threatened with military charge for silly things like forgetting to notify MINDEF of overseas trips or not doing IPPT because the PTI told me not to go since my PES just got downgraded and that I should just wait for charge call-up (yes, true story) does not equal “Protecting ourselves”.

    Singapore is my home and everything I hold dear is here. I will take up arms to protect it if anything untoward should happen.

    But I wish we weren’t treated like second class citizens or children.

  42. @Singaporean (October 8, 2013 at 11:54 am):

    Spastic maggot! Being forced into mandatory conscription doesn’t imply having the will to defend when the time comes. Ask your peers how many would give a fuck.

  43. Seems to be two persons with the same avatar…Singaporean. How did that happened? i posted only 1 comment i.e. 7 Oct 7.19 pm. Perhaps this website allowed the use of the same Avatar.

  44. may i ask u a personal questions…who do u think will defend your own country in times of turmoil n intrusion frm unwanted visitors???have u not open up your eye’s n ear’s n c with a wide n open mind on how countries tat slack on their feet to train n refresh the training on military aspect do get mowed easily like a crush beancurd!!!!a very good example
    is between kuwait n iraq!!!do u really appreciate the term of operationally ready n the term of push button n go????fyi…i myself was an ex-regular in the army….all of the experience n the sop learn while in the armu i do apply in my life even as a civilian n it has put me thru alot of advantages rather thanwat might u have perceive!!!i think u might b one of those super problem child even when u were a recruit back then…serving ns is more of a character n will build up rather than lamenting abt the disadvantages!!!if u think otherwise…pls scram of frm my belove country n tarnish tis country excellent reputation…only then u will wat the proverb-the grass might be greener on the otherside but its much more better the want tat u r standing!!!!!

  45. According to this website and law

    Citizens (new or old) must serve their NS blah blah and only 1st gen PRs are excused.

    However,i know of many new citizens under 35 who are new citizens and are never called up for 2 yrs of NS or at least some clerical duties a couple of weeks a year. Some of them are my colleagues and friends.

    Doesn’t this show that native Singaporeans are indeed 2nd class citizens? i didnt know that new citizens had this privilege?

  46. Great piece. I hear you and I feel you and I applaud you for your courage in penning it all down. Truth be told, I have been thinking of emigration for this exact reason and am working on getting my application approved. I don’t think I will actually fight for this country given my experiences during ICT and the inflexibility of NS policies when I needed it most, be it deferment or anything else. The only consolation I have, is that I get paid a COL’s salary during the 2 weeks I am in ICT, while wearing the Rank of a CPL, and sleeping all day in my bunk, after having my work business trip rejected because my unit ‘needed my services’.

  47. In my NS days, decades ago, we used to sing this song; “Here we go again, same old s*** again.

    Sigh …. Now I sing, Here we go again. Same old NS debate again. Having completed my reservist obligation up to age 50 more than a decade ago, and having seen my son thro full-time NS a couple of years ago, I do not have the energy to engage in any more debates about NS. So I’d just like to share my views expressed in 2006 in my blog here. If you’d like to comment, pls be civil. Thank you.

  48. NS is rubbish in a country with more than 50% foreigners. Why do I say 50%? Newly mint citizenships are counted under Singaporeans quota, citizenship has been given out like toilet paper to every tom, dick and harry in the past few years. Actual number of Singapore borned Singaporeans are already below 50%, and why the fuck should local born be serving NS when all the foreigners are at a clear advantage when it comes to employment without saf liabilities.

    Aren’t Singaporeans 2nd class citizens in their own country? The PAP cancer must be exorcised in 2016. Else I already have plans in place to migrate the fuck out of here with my wife and 2 sons. Fuck the NS bullshit! I will not subject them to the same shit treatment in this country, I believe I can survive elsewhere with my expertise and qualifications.

  49. Im currently serving the army as a signaller rebro detachment. Im left with 11 months more. Its a pretty long time to me. I chiong all the way and by the way, i got outfield tmr. Got a gold ippt and marksman and got money for it. Army is just a waste of my 2 years! I havent learn anything from here. But one thing for sure is i treasure my friends here alot! I feel that we have to protect singapore!! But not those foreigners. And many of the trainings could have cut short and we should serve lesser. I think in 1 year we can achieve everything that a normal nsmen now did in his 2 years. If you are in the army, you will understand this.
    All this while in camp, we have to just listen to our commanders or else they threathen to charge us. We do alot of saikang work for those higher ups. Theres alot of wayang you have to do for example when the CO is around. Is that the point of ns? As a man, the only thing we look foward to is our book out day after spending monday – friday in camp and only to book in on sunday. i want to spent more time with my family!!! Whats worse is when my CSM plays with our book out timing every friday and we book out very late on a friday. Its a whole different story if you are in my place. I just keep quiet and do as told but deep down, i feel like a dog to my higher ups. Things like area cleaning over and over again? Wtf? Im sure if we check our commanders bunk, it will be worse than ours. How are we going to have pride to protect singapore when we are being treated like this? I have been a good soldier all this while and have never taken any status and this is my point of view.

    What i want from the govt is to:
    Make ns 1 year
    Make realistic training unlike weird trainings that we have. And the equipments i used is so old! Its like not even up to date. You should see our army signals sets! The Antenna is like filmsy and it broke during outfield and my fren got charged and sent to db. Its not fair! What to do? Haha.
    Be more flexible and allow the man to book out every day.
    Increase our pay. I have to pay for transport,bills, food and many other things. We are going to protect singapore and this is the pay you are giving us? Fuck you!
    Treat us better and respect us! Atleast we feel appreciated. Thats all guys! I have to go to outfield tmr! Camo on and stay happy! 🙂

  50. Few points i just wanna say, for one last time to those “goody two shoes” who outright support the NS system.. Alvin did NOT mention that the 2 years NS system was screwed up. In fact i think that the 2 years that we GUYS serve can be taken as a growing up process and etc.. But come to think of it, what comes after that 2 years is what really peeves us off.

    Seriously, by tying us down with “everytime you leave the country, you have to report if not you’ll go to jail” or “if you fail your IPPT you have to serve 20 sessions RT, if not you have to go to jail” and “you have to serve 10 ICT for the next half of your life if not you’ll get charged” will make us down right being able to feel patriotic and fight for our country so that our grandmother, mother, daughter and sister can sleep well at night?

    Hello.. So you’re telling me we fight for the freedom of our country, but at the cost of our own freedom? Its pretty ironic isn’t it.

    On a side note, women.. if you are gonna comment on this article.. unless you’re one of those that signed on.. i suggest you just read on instead of generating hate here. Because you simply don’t know what does it feel like to start 2 years later in your degree, spend the next half of your life getting tied to somewhat a 2nd marriage which can potentially fck you upside down if you cock up.

    These are the voices that the general public which thinks the NS system should be revised, but what can be done about it? This article will just be another “untold story” to the defense minister whose busy with counting $$$$$ instead.

  51. Hi guys,

    Many thanks to Alvin for such a well written article. Personally, I ORD-ED not too long ago and although I have yet to get called up for my first reservist, I definitely share the same sentiments.

    Really I would like to 2nd “edd”‘s point. So many people who are against this article keep on ranting on how NS is useful and how ungrateful we are to the country but if you do understand English and read the article carefully you will find that Alvin is NOT for ABOLISHING NS etc…, he just feels that there are flaws in the system and would like to see improvements in it. There might have been emotions involved but hey we’re all humans.

    To the people out there who are against this article, your argument always revolves round “who will defend Singapore when war comes”. Really can you guys come up with something better? Clearly the usage of just that ONE point in your argument shows how weak it is, how brainwashed you are by army (cause they always use this reason) and your inability to think. Not to mention, my 2nd paragraph really just makes your ONE POINT argument moot. And just in case all this is beyond your ability to understand, its: WE WANT and WILL defend SINGAPORE. We’re just unhappy the way reservist is run and would like to see certain changes.

    Till then cheers to all the free Singaporean males who have/are serving the Nation!

  52. Well said Alvin.

    As a female I can’t say I truly understand the frustration, but looking at my singaporean male colleagues (of which there are not many as majority are foreigners), I feel for them. For 2-3 months they have to sacrifice their nights and saturdays for RT, and its not just the nights that they have RT on. In order to get to the ulu camps, they have to knock off early and rush down, but the shortfall at work still has to be made up some day.

    At the end of the day (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong guys), I have the impression that a good proportion of people at RT are just going through the motions. Its a waste of 3 months multiplied over 10 years

  53. Hi Alvin,

    I would like to know if your elected MP or that of other parties have contacted you. They claim to be our spokespersons, esp near election periods. Let us wait and see if the brewing frustrations of the common Singaporean men are addressed.

    My take: too late, too little.

  54. Agree totally! Before you join the army, they will tell you “come in for 2.5 years and then after that f**k off” which is all BS to me. After my 2.5 years, they ask me to go back for ICT which is fine! Just take it as work break. But the whole IPPT system is FLAWED!

    We are all working men some with families! Government want us to have more babies which means we need more money. Working my a** off and if you fail your IPPT you have to go for RT! Now what do I tell my boss? How many bosses out there don’t understand it’s not that we want to leave work early. We have NO CHOICE!

    All these end up after RT (which ends at around 9+pm) which we have to either go back to office to work or go home and work! Don’t forget we have not eaten our dinner and showered. Those with kids have to tend to them before going to work at 12am!

    Yes to National Service, OK with ICT. BUT the bloody IPPT has to go! Don’t give me lame excuses that time is something that you have to find yourself. If I can find time so can you. Try walking in someone else shoes. Don’t tell me if your work requires you to work till 10pm every night, then your job or you yourself is the problem. It’s NOT!

  55. Im not rambo type, but is a fitness buff. here’s my story. Before NS life, I can do only 0.5 chin-up and jump 1.8m for SBJ. If you do not know what 0.5 chin-up is, it means just bending your arms a little bit while desperately trying to get your up that damn chin up bar. But I can run 2.4km, definitely around 10min mark. that’s coz of all the football I played. During BMT, I improved to gold standard.

    NS cycle over, went overseas to study. Came back, got call back for IPPT every year when 24 yrs old, but didn’t got call up for ICT til I’m 30 yrs old. That means I finished my ICT at the ripe old age of 40 yrs old.

    My IPPT cycle also goes like this: 25 yrs to 34 yrs old, mostly silver, due to the reason that I gym or exercise a lot. Turning point was 34 to 35yrs period, due to work, partying and laziness, I gain a lot of weight, and failed IPPT for the first time, My 2.4km was 17min+, and failed SBJ. Like all of you, report RT,think was waste of time, and not helpful. So tell myself, “die die must pass IPPT next time”. So wake up 0.5 hr earlier for 2 or 3 times a week to run and exercise for 30min in the morning. The running in fact turn into a addiction, end up taking part in Marathons (42km).

    Managed to skip RT due to passing IPPT even when I’m 40. In fact, my ICT mates would remark: “u r abnormal, so fat still can run” “see one fat ass running in front of me”. I’m not skinny, weighing almost 75kg, ht only 173cm, still get gold at 40 yrs old.

    Moral of the story:
    1) IPPT and RT: like all of u I hate RT, waste of time. doesn’t really do anything. When I was in RT, I see a lot of people go through motion. Their mentality is “not going to pass anyway”. I could have give up and do RT for the rest of NS life. To all of u, try spending 10 to 30min a few days per week to have exercise properly, should help you to pass IPPT (provided u do the correct exercises). To those people who say fit people cant pass IPPT, that “fit” person do not train on his weakness. I was always weak in SBJ (frog), but I did exercises to make sure I’m able to pass. Think of the time you can save by exercising yourself correctly. The thing that helps me to pass IPPT itself was, “I do not want to go RT”. its the thing that force myself to wake up and exercise for 30min, and wasting 3 hrs for RT sessions. Dont you think I want extra 30min sleep?

    2) Personal fitness level: As Im overage, I need to go for compulsory FFI at 35, 37 and 39 yrs. 35 yrs FFI, high cholesterol level, borderline high blood pressure, My 37 yrs FFI, due to my exercise routine, cholesterol drop to half of 35 yrs, blood pressure went down. I had a poly mate who use to be a rugby player and had heart attack before 30 yrs old, do you same thing happening to you? What would happen to your wife and kids? During my exercise sessions at Toa Payoh stadium, there is a Malay guy, he used to weigh at least 160kg, everyday he goes to the stadium at first to walk round and round. Now he is running, coz he has lost at least 60kg for exercising every day 3-4 yrs. Dun tell me he has more time, I’m sure if you ask him he would rather spend his time making $$, with his family. Think of it as an excuse to keep yourself fit and healthy, there are benefits personally in passing IPPT. It’s a glass half full or half empty. up to u. In sports there is a saying “Winners always want the ball.” Its up to you if you want the ball for yourself.

    NS: like all of u, I think NS is a waste of time for most of us, given that we have population growth and expected it to grow more, maybe we should consider the British armed forces model with a professional core and volunteer army to supplement. But extra special benefits will be given to volunteers, etc special dispensation for primary school, and housing. I can guarantee that there are more than enough volunteers. Come to think of it, if Mindef comes out with a policy that says IPPT Gold standard will entitlement the kid to be Cat 1 for primary schools entrance, you see whether the father will complain or not.

  56. Richard, your history damn good huh??
    What does 50% foreigners in Singapore tell you? We already have been invaded and or the country you are protecting has already been sold out. Fucking good job providing peace so that all these foreigners can work here while your fellow Singaporeans lose their jobs when they go for ICT and RT!

  57. Well said bro. You are the kind of modern thinking that should be represented as a voice to the govt. you are not afraid of whatsoever opinions you may get as long as you know to yourself that u r speaking for the better good. Keep it up man! I applaud u.

  58. Kind of agree with what you said. I think they should really review the IPPT system and the reservist system. Reservist and IPPT is probably still a must. However, the time and hours spent on ippt, rt, reservist etc… should be reduce. We are all working adults and we had a family out there, the time spent on all these, could be used more with our family and friends.

  59. Just read today’s news paper in camp, then know about your post. Was so shocked when I saw the article claiming that “while some netizen agreed with him, most criticised him.” After coming here and see for myself, did I know how screwed up our media system is. Credibility 0.

  60. Before we talk about defending Singapore, may I ask what is the reason any country would want to invade Singapore?? Because of our land, which we have reclaimed from the sea; or the natural resources, which we have none; or our national reserve, which they would not be able to use??? There must be a reason for aggression. If not, what then are we defending??

    As a secondary thought, if anyone really want to own Singapore for whatever reason, they can always name a price. After all, “garmen” is selling land to Singaporeans and foreigners at high price. No need for war.

  61. I hope the blogger and viewers here can read up the new paper of this morning article “blogger slammed for anti-ns rant” and have the blogger wrote another reply in view of the news article.

  62. @MR (Mindef Reserve) Lost:

    Why might Singapore be invaded?
    For the great location (as a trading hub, centre of international travel and commerce, etc). For our infrastructure. For our monetary reserves.

    Govt selling land? That’s just silly.
    Q: You know why our national discussions on governance are usually so childish and stunted?
    A: 1) The mainstream media is one big source of this problem, because of all the censorship they practice. As a result the general population just isn’t informed enough to make good analyses of situations or to come up with better ideas.
    2) Another big source of the problem are the virulent anti-PAP’ers like yourself who can’t or won’t put up a coherent argument, but just like to take mindless pot-shots at the “garmen” that really add nothing to the discussion at all. Surely you can do better?

  63. @NS my ass, i love your swift replies to all those who cannot seem to understand the simple point Alvin is making. Some people are just so impenetrable.

    Anyway, my point is that if the singapore government wants to build an army that is ready for “war”, I think it has to first get the enlistees to love their country.

    (i mean we can always say we don’t know when it will happen and we should always be ready, but I think we’re slightly trapped in our “Singapore is a small island, our neighbours can attack us any moment” mentality of fear.)

    And to do so does not mean brainwash or feed them with military rhetoric, it just doesn’t work. Given the story of Alex Liang who changed citizenship even after completing 2 years of NS (and i believe that there are many more), it is quite evident that those who we are training to defend the country will leave the country and change citizenship in greater numbers, resulting in a counter-productive effort by the government to build a operationally ready army. Therefore, it’s not just about making NS compulsory, if people hate the system and change citizenship because of that, then instead of having a greater military force, we’ll have smaller ones.

    Going back to my earlier point in parenthesis about the threat of war, there are always two extreme positions. One, that we must be ever-ready for an attack on us at any moment in time, therefore we must train our army rigorously and make sure every man is super fit and super mentally prepared by making them train and join the army their whole life. Secondly, we’ve been in peaceful times for so long and we have relatively good relations with our neighbours such that there is no imminent reason for them to attack us. Therefore, we should not have compulsary NS at all or any army at all. These are the two extreme positions.

    So basically, we have to find a balance. Definitely, these two extremes are not ideal.
    Granted, more weight should be placed on the option of strengthening our defence as opposed to the option of being complacent, but we shouldn’t be in such fear of the threat of war that we lose our rational thinking when making decisions about NS system and continuously imagine that we’re going to be attacked at any time. We have to weigh the pros and cons of the decision, just like how we would make decisions in our life. I mean just because we’re scared of someone robbing us in the street doesn’t mean we hide at home all the time right? We get to balanced decisions in real life, so let’s be real about NS.

    This is to answer some people comment’s that Alvin has forgotten history book and all that far fetched logic.

    Lastly, given that our government is giving out more citizenships to males above NS age, we’d have more and more male citizens in our country who are not even half as ready as those who are born and bred and gone through 2 years of NS. How do you account for that critics? If the government doesn’t give a shit about these new citizens who don’t have training but still Singaporeans, then the basis of reservist is rubbish.

    Alvin love your article

  64. @mlj
    “Why might Singapore be invaded?
    For the great location (as a trading hub, centre of international travel and commerce, etc). For our infrastructure. For our monetary reserves.”

    That is also very misinformed and it comes off as hypocrisy when you say the general population isn’t informed enough. Not to mention, the indirect and subtle personal attacks are uncalled for.

    If you think more about it, in conventional warfare and given the limited land mass of Singapore, infrastructure damage is inevitable. In order to prevent infrastructure damage, the invading force must either annex the existing government without fighting in Singapore or make use of unconventional warfare and other means to force the government to surrender.

    Once the battle is brought into Singapore land, due to the nature of urban warfare, it is just naive to say that infrastructure will be left untouched. Just by doing a quick look through recent wars such as Syria civil war (infrastructure damage of US$15b according to some media sources) and even the Libyan civil war requires US$400b for necessary reconstruction. You maybe well-versed in urban warfare and such, but no matter what arguments are there, if the invading force were to reduce casualty on their side and time taken to capture Singapore, infrastructure destruction would be necessary.

    Besides, do you think the government would just let the monetary reserve sit there while the government is in the process of being challenged by another sovereign state? The reserve would deplete very fast in order to maintain and mobilize the army while at the same time producing war material and focusing budget on defense and security. In case you do not know, spending on defense and security does not itself create economic growth but only ensure we have an environment whereby our economy can grow (Nordhaus & Tobin (1972)). In fact, it can be said that it is due to the foreign investments in Singapore that also act as a deterrence to invasion as Singapore have economic ties with many countries and it is close to being the largest offshore wealth center. There is no point in robbing a bank where you have your money deposit inside (unless you are certain you can make off more).

    The point about Singapore’s location is debatable as I think Malaysia or Indonesia would certainly benefit if they have a port in Singapore. However, just these reasons alone are insufficient reasons for other sovereign state to invade Singapore and I find it very short-sighted if a sovereign state were to invade just for these reasons. In addition, the invading sovereign state will have to answer the political consequence of such an act. In case you have not heard of FPDA, I’m sure the other 4 members of the arrangement would come to Singapore’s aid.

    However, that is not to say Singapore won’t be invaded. The extremist or anarchist that do not belong to any sovereign states would not hesitate to attack Singapore for petty reasons. Furthermore, we are very vulnerable to cultural invasion and economic invasion (http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/The-lesson-of-the-Chinese-economic-invasion-2311441.php – It maybe 2 years old but I believe nothing is done about it and it applies to us as well) which I believe we may have lost already.

    What we need to really defend against is not other country, but of a cultural/civilizational enemy that comes from within. Just by looking at the trends of recent wars, the threat of conventional warfare from other sovereign state is diminishing whereas the rise of supranational terrorism using unconventional tactics are beginning to be more effective.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I am not calling for abolishing of NS, but what I agree with Alvin is that we need to look into our NS system and review whether is it really necessary for a long reservist period. In addition, could we divert some of the resources dedicated to military spending into other areas while still maintaining a formidable military might in SEA security?

    As quoted by you, “surely you can do better” than to throw attacks on others instead of educating or informing the others?

  65. @Concerned citizen:

    Thanks for your message to me.

    It seems like you have taken what I said personally for some reason. My comment, “Surely you can do better,” was aimed at MR (Mindef Reserve) Lost’s 2nd point, specifically: “… if anyone really want to own Singapore for whatever reason, they can always name a price. After all, “garmen” is selling land to Singaporeans and foreigners at high price. No need for war.” (That’s why I kept that portion in my second paragraph, which was supposed to denote that I was mirroring MR’s two points.)

    I don’t know if you actually agree with the sentiment expressed by MR, but I certainly thought his was an (outrageous and childish) comment intended purely to mock the government and did not add anything substantial to the discussion of the main topic at hand (ie National Service) at all. Hence my calling him out on that.

    I was not in any way using “indirect and subtle personal attacks” on MR as you claimed; I was however comparing him to many other commentators I’ve seen on the internet who employ similar government-bashing tactics while neglecting the main issue, just as he did above.

    I hope this suffices as an explanation and defence of my intentions in saying what I did.

    As for your criticism of my first paragraph (regarding possible reasons why Singapore may be invaded): I liked that you raised some valid points that may be a deterrence to invaders. However I would just like to say that the reasons I listed were just *possible* causes and certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list; they were just meant to highlight other factors that MR missed in his original comment.

    Furthermore I think I make a fair assumption when I say you probably are not are a time-traveller who has seen Singapore finish as a sovereign nation without being invaded for my stated reasons, therefore I see no reason for your air of superiority in claiming that I was “misinformed” for simply raising hypothetical scenarios.


  66. @mlj

    I’m very sorry for misunderstanding your post and thank you for clarifying with me. I also apologise if I sounded rude and with an air of superiority to you.

    I thought the way you gave the reasons to MR (Mindef Reserve) Lost’s question seemed like the “right” answer. Also, the 2nd paragraph come off to me as attacking him for being ignorant instead of referring to his mockery. Combined with my misunderstanding of your answer to his question, I thought it was quite hypocritical. Once again, I’m sorry for misunderstanding you.

    I do agree with you that verbal abuse about the government is pointless but a rare few are slightly humorous. Anyway, the reasons you listed are highly unlikely in my opinion and I think that being “invaded” by Islamic extremist organization for petty or unknown reasons are much more likely.

    @Fix the system now

    A very nice point that we are having more male citizens which are not combat ready citizens. In fact, Singapore’s military strength would only continue to weaken due to lesser “NS-liable” citizens. In order to compensate of the weakening of military strength, there are possibly only 2 methods which are to improve military technology or to have a bigger military force.

    In the current trends of warfare, we are beginning to see the rise of asymmetrical warfare (military strength/tactics differ significantly) whereby technology is of less use in unconventional warfare. Just by observing the ongoing Syria civil war, the Syrian rebels have been engaging the Syria government through such asymmetrical warfare such as suicide bombings targeted at government officials.

    Asymmetrical warfare is becoming a 4G warfare whereas our army is only barely a 3G army (which in fact I think if we fight against a similar 3G army, we would sustain more damage. Additionally, we maybe technologically 3G, but our mindset is still of a 2G (recall ATEC exercise). I welcome any arguments regarding this). The possibility of us being targeted by an organization that would do harm to us is increasing whereas targeted by a sovereign state is diminishing. Even if it is a sovereign state, they would use 4G warfare against us instead. At this I applaud the government for trying to improve its cyber-security. But the objective of losing the will to fight is already beginning without any external influence as can be seen by the many comments above.

    This leave us with having a bigger military force which we possibly only have 3 options: more female soldiers, increasing NS-liable citizens or using foreigners. Therefore, if we were to review the NS system, we may as well also look into the Singapore citizenship. Clearly from many sources, the above 3 options maybe hard to achieve as well.

  67. National slavery is the reason why I’m not having any children until I achieve my dream of migrating out of this shithole.

  68. If the government doesn’t make it mandatory for guys like us to get a pass in IPPT, then who will bother to make sure that their own fitness level is there when we need to carry the heavy field packs, weapons and fight for our country when the times comes? Guys who have been through NS should understand that it is very physical demanding to carry heavy load and weapons. Some might say the physical fitness is different from outfield fitness, but do you really want the government to make SOC mandatory?

    I agree with Alvin that ‘subjected to a unique set of military laws where you can get jailed for minor stuff like forgetting to take your IPPT’ might not be fair, however some people might just use this excuse again and again so that they don’t have to take IPPT, is this fair for people who adhere to the requirement of taking IPPT every year?

    Just some thoughts

  69. @Concerned citizen, thank you for reasoning out my points.

    I also share your view that conventional warfare is no longer relevant today. So are the scenario plays for the threats which have been diligently regurgitated during Ops Briefing during every exercise. I always marvel if the exercises are really just a game of war for the fun of those up there. Without knowing the reasons for aggression, how do we know what are the real threats? And how can an army then be trained to handle them? Hence the question.

    Defending a county is more than just a lip service reciting, “We will preserve and protect the honour and independence of our country WITH OUR LIVES”. On the contrary, true allegiance calls for wisdom to ensure your own survival so that you can take the life of your aggressors putting a stop to their nonsense.

    I also agree that today, potential threats come from within. Cultural and economic threats are real. Not forgetting terrorism. If these are acknowledged as real threats, then SAF doctrine is really in need of review and revision as rightly pointed out by Alvin.

    Yes, I may have fulfilled by NS liability but not without doubting if I have ever served the real purpose.

    @mlj, your personal attack on me aside, the possibilities you raised clearly demonstrated you are equally clueless as well. If infrastructure is what they want, do you not think they do not have the means to build it? Think Iskandar in Malaysia. Do you also not know that our leaders are ever keen to help other countries replicate the success of Singapore in their land? Think Su Zhou in China. If the purpose of invading Singapore is to take possession of our reserve, a more direct way would be to rob World Bank. Do you think that even if they have successfully conquered SG, World Bank would release the reserve to them?

    I know it sounded silly to you that government is selling land to its own people. It makes no sense to me either. Do you know that when HDB needs land to build public housing, it pays market rate to SLA to acquire the land. The cost is then passed on to the buyer. Is this not selling land?? Ok, I stand corrected as we do not really buy the land. We merely pay for a strata unit which HDB is renting to us for 99 years. Why then is the cost of land factored into the “selling” (renting would be more accurate) price? Well, we will leave this to a separate discussion.

    On your direct personal attack and deliberate accusation on me, there is really no need for me to address them as I do not know you at all. But, I just want to point out that you are quick to accuse me as anti-PAP when I used the word “garmen”. Just a gentle reminder that SG goverment is not formed by PAP alone. Seriously, I do not care which parties form the government as long as the policies are made with the good of the people at heart. If not, I am entitled to my rights as a Singaporean to point them out.

  70. @MR (Mindef Reserve) Lost:

    I did not mean to personally attack you. I did, however, (as I explained to Concerned citizen) perhaps paint with too broad a brush and lumped you together with other anti-PAP commentators that I’m sure we’ve all seen hovering around similar discussions of this type – because you were displaying the same modus operandi as them in your commentating style.

    I apologise if you feel offended by my characterisation, however I am not sorry for pointing out that your comment was indeed childish and completely unrelated to the topic at hand, which I’m sure you now recognise.

    About your counter-point regarding the reasons I gave for Singapore’s hypothetical invasion, I will repeat the same thing I told Cc: those are just *possible* reasons – and I’ll also point out that these same reasons have been relied on for invasions elsewhere around the world, so I am not simply pulling them out of my imagination.

    Until the day we see Singapore totally dissolve as a sovereign state without having been invaded on the basis of my listed reasons, then I think there is no justification for you to call me “clueless” for simply listing them. You are of course free to debate their plausibility, like what Cc has done.

    In any event, I do not believe that my hypothetical reasons are as far-fetched as Cc and yourself like to think. Even if an aggressive invader did not want to target Singapore directly, it might still do so if the region were caught up in a wider war just as in WWII, where the capture of Singapore became a strategic priority for Japan’s war efforts elsewhere because of our geographical location which afforded great tactical advantages as far as troop placements and supplies were concerned. And may I remind you that after Japan did take Singapore, it drained a lot of our resources via taxation and forced labour – basically financial efforts which were aided by, again, our position as a commercial and trading hub. I think it’s naive to think an aggressor would want to spend the time building infrastructure (not just civil, but financial as well) like you said, when there is an opportunity to simply capture a country rich in it: just like Japan did with Singapore.

    So dispute my points as you deem fit, but since we’re all just playing armchair oracles here I think I’ll insist that until I have been definitively proven wrong, my hypothetical scenarios are no less valid compared to yours and Cc’s.

  71. @foreigner
    All 3 nations have very real threats.
    South Korea – N. Korea
    Taiwan – China
    Israel – basically everyone around them
    Singapore – PAP

    “You serve NS so that your grand mother, mother, sister, wife and daughter can sleep tight at night knowing that a ‘Singaporean son’ will protect them.”
    You mean die for them. Get real, if Singapore really goes to war, there’s no way us conscripts can win against a professional army. Maybe if we’re as hardcore as the Israeli, but we’re not. NS is like a boy scout adventure camp to inculcate national pride, camaraderie and other warm fuzzy feelings that a whole lot of less troublesome activities can already provide. To defend the country from a real physical threat? HAHAHA who are we kidding

  72. NS must continue, but must change !
    Cut short the period for 2 years NS, its too long.
    Cut short the reservist period, 2 low keys + 1 high key & that is all !
    Cut short the annual IPPT, & revise the standard ! Its to keep us fit, not a method of detection.
    Don’t always F**K around to Charge here Chrage there ! Do respect us like YOU LIKE OTHERS TO RESPECT YOU !
    I believe we love our country, but dont tarnish our love with the given authority by our voted government to the Army. Use your CHARGE wisely.
    Hope I wan’t offensive to anybody.
    A true thought from my heart, who has completed NS and full cycle resevist.

  73. I admire your courage to speak up, Alvin.
    With regards to the reservist issue, I think someone in SAF ought to get sacked for sleeping on his job. I was a clerk during NS but was called up for reservist after nine years to do absolutely nothing but guard duties and ground patrols. A job i think they can easily outsource from any security agency, and it will be way cheaper and more reliable than to hire someone like me.
    It is clear they must be using a “one size fits all” kind of strategy when calling people up for reservists, right after the september 11 incident, with all the heightened risk of terrorist attacks. But after the immediate risks have gone, that “someone” in SAF went back to sleep and left it as it is.

  74. @mlj

    Your hypothetical scenarios are indeed valid and like what you say and in every theory work, your points are valid until proven otherwise. But of course, theory is for us to identify a problem and to plan a means for altering the situation and in our case, it could be used to describe what is the purpose of our army and how to change our NS system. However, it would be good if you also back up the reason with possible causes and events that would lead to such a scenario.

    Before I start to dispute your points about why an invasion of Singapore for the reasons of land and geographical location, I think we have to know Singapore’s stand in international ground and the purpose or grand strategy of our army. As many already know, Singapore is on friendly relationship with almost every country and have economic ties with every developed country. It is very likely that in case of any war and aggression that does not threaten Singapore, our country will stay neutral and would not participate in any of the conflict. The grand strategy of Singapore is unknown to us except our leaders but I would like to believe that the army will defend vital positions in Singapore and our neighbouring country which we must win at all cost while protecting its citizens with enough offensive capability to disable aggressive military forces coming towards Singapore. That is also ultimately what an army is for, to engage in warfare.

    However, from what we see instead when we were serving NS, it seems like our strategy nowadays are just to display our military might and assertion in the SEA geopolitics. Instead of training on likely scenarios and gaining real combat experience, we wasted more resources on “media-ing” our army and showing off our technological might. In addition, as can be seen during ATEC exercises, most of the time our dear OPFOR is the one defending (I hope to see more scenarios like what Switzerland did during their recent exercise). It seems like what we are doing are just fighting small insurgents in remote places instead of likely scenarios on how to defend against an attack coming from within our country, our coast or the north.

    I mentioned in my earlier comment, if we fight against a similar 3G army, we would sustain more damage as we have more to lose when the enemy strike behind our lines due to our limited landmass and military forces. In a 3G army warfare, being attacked from behind is expected but the only question is where and when. A possible strategy employed by our foe would be to capture our strike forces that has inserted behind enemy lines and eliminate them, thus we would lose our offensive capabilities. Not to mention, I find the concept of placing great trust and responsibility on 18-22 years old officers who has just gone through a longer and tougher training just as outrageous as placing a big business-threatening project on the hands of a fresh degree graduate leading a group of diploma holders.

    If we are really serious about our defense, then the leaders should let us know what our grand strategy would be and focus on working towards the strategy. Abstract and intangible concepts like love your nation and defend your family etc would no longer work in such modern times and due to our pragmatic society, most of us are more keen on seeing practical and tangible results. If everyone were to “love your nation”, then what is globalization? Furthermore, instead of keeping the soldiers and citizens in the dark and feeding us with propaganda, let everyone within the nation know of the grand strategy (don’t need to let us know the details of course) and let us see tangible results like what Switzerland has done in their recent exercise. Everyone knows why and what we are fighting for (lately many are already doubting this point), but why and what are we fighting against? If these points are ambiguous, then you’d have unwilling soldiers as you can see from many comments above.

    Anyway, back to the point of invasion of Singapore for geographical location. As you have mentioned that we would be dragged into a wider war such as back in WW2, we then have to consider what would happen and who are our potential foes if a huge war occur. So far, there are 2 possible scenarios that would drag the entire world into war: US vs Russia and US vs China. There maybe more scenarios but dragging the entire world into war would require the military superpowers to be involved.

    WW3 could have happened during the Syria civil war when Russia threatened US that they would back Syria up if US ever launch an offensive against Syria. In this scenario, we will need to know who will be siding which side and prepare for potential foes. It is very likely the middle east would erupt into war with Iran and Israel along with Lebanon, not to mention the mess that Iraq, Libya and Egypt are already in. Russia would undoubtedly side with Iran, bringing along Belarus and Ukraine. North Korea and South Korea will immediately fight it out and it may draw China and Japan into the war (Unlikely for China to go into war as China and US have very deep economic ties. Not to mention, North Korea have no military pact with Russia which is unlikely that north Korea would even go to war in the first place). Several nations of NATO (as can be seen in the recent Syria civil war) would not openly support US but instead providing support through intelligence. UK maybe dragged into the war due to relationship with US and it is here that may affect us in SEA. Due to FPDA and our relationship with US, we may have to provide support to US as well. Our immediate potential enemy would be countries that would side with Russia and Iran, which may include Vietnam, India and Pakistan (but its likely Vietnam would remain neutral and India and Pakistan would fight each other instead without siding with US or Russia). US’s navy fleet would undoubtedly use Singapore and Philippines as a naval base to wage war against Russia in the pacific. However, in this hypocritical scenario of WW3 triggered by Syria, the battleground would be mainly in middle east with US fighting through the proxy of Israel and Russia through Iran. The only worrying issue is if Iran use nuclear attacks which could start a nuclear war.

    Anyway, if Singapore is dragged into a wider war, the question would be will Singapore remain neutral or will Singapore side with US. It also depends on who is US fighting against. If US is fighting against China (very unlikely as mentioned earlier, China and US economic ties are too deep), US will have Singapore and Philippines as a base of navy operations. China will want to destroy this advantage that US has. It is likely China would target Philippines first and possibly capture Philippines in order to use it as their base to further their attacks on US. Whereas for Singapore, we will have 3 possible and potential offensive strategy (maybe more) used by China against us: 1. Decimation of Singapore to prevent US fleet using Singapore. 2. Capture of Singapore to deny US fleet and also to use as their own base. 3. Trigger an annex of government so to replace a government supporting China instead of US.

    First, it is undoubtedly the fastest way to deny US fleet from using Singapore as China have enough air and navy strength to overwhelm Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia air and navy defense. China has a total of 5000 aircraft and strength of 970 naval vessels including auxiliaries, whereas Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia combined have a total of 1040 aircraft and a strength of 240 naval vessels including auxiliaries (estimated numbers from various sources). Just by using superior numbers and ammunition, they could overwhelm our defenses and decimate our vital positions and installations. This is not counting China’s potential ally in the region and also if Malaysia and Indonesia would even be involved in the war.

    Second, capturing of Singapore would require some time for the land forces to travel and occupy Singapore. Back in WW2, the reason Japan captured Singapore is not just a simple reason of strategic geographical location, Japan wanted to use Singapore as a consolidated base and resource center to manage its invaded territory so to further attack the allies’ forces still within the region. If China is invading with the reason of increasing territory, then undoubtedly they would use this method. However, it will depends also if US is the aggressor in the war. If China is just defending itself against US, China is more likely to use the first strategy to deny US pacific fleet a base of operation.

    Third, this strategy will be the cheapest way to deny US navy fleet. Since Singapore already has a sizable population of China Chinese, it is also possible that China could instigate them to riot and cause trouble within Singapore like as we see now from the Arab Spring that cause Egypt, Libya and Syria trouble. In addition, China can also launch a media and cyber warfare against Singapore and it would cripple Singapore’s ability to support US with intelligence or even financial aid. We could probably tell which strategy China will use if China Chinese fled Singapore to avoid a bombardment or invasion of Singapore or if the China Chinese continue to stay in Singapore but riots start to break out through out Singapore.

    I have more to elaborate and more to consider with many more possible scenarios but due to lack of time, I will just stop with this scenario. Ultimately, we cannot compare our current situation with WW2 as both situation are completely different. Back then, Japan was ambitious and wanted to crave out an empire with enough land and resources for their people. In recent times, due to globalization and economic ties like spider web through out the world, land and resources are not sufficient reasons for invading other countries. Therefore, I find that comparing our current situation with the situation in WW2 is just like comparing our current political situation with 1965-era political situation, both are utterly different situation. We can only learn a few lessons here and there in our history, but we also need the flexibility to tweak such lessons to fit into our problems.

    Therefore, our NS system must be flexible and change with time similarly to how our government has evolved over time. We cannot just base our strategy on using traditional and conventional warfare against external threats and assuming that our enemies just want our land. 知彼知己,百戰不殆;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼,不知己,每戰必殆. To me, it seems like we not only do not know who our enemy is, but we are beginning to not know ourselves. The NS system is one method of knowing ourselves, but as mentioned by many people, is it a fair system? As long as every Singaporean is not united with their answers to “What it means to be Singaporean?” Then we still do not know ourselves. I welcome arguments and debates to what I just said. Thank you for reading if anyone bothers to.

  75. I’m fine with the Serve and Fuck off after 2 years, but what follows is fucking pain in the fucking ass. I go to the gym 4 times a week. I can do 15 chinups, shuttle run 9.6, situps 40, 2.4km under 10, that’s fucking gold but I just can’t pass my standing board jump and I have to attend the fucking RT because of that!

    And what do people do in RT?? Sit around, waiting and waiting, doing useless exercises which has nothing to do with passing board jump. Guess what, at the end of 20 wasted fucking sessions. I still fail my standing board jump. Those fuckers above who kept saying it’s your duty to keep fit, would you like to challenge me in a sprint and see who’s fitter?

    This typical lazy one size fits all fucking approach is certainly not working and it’s wasting everyone’s fucking time. Waking up at 6am to go work, I have to leave at 4:30pm much to the displeasure of my boss to travel to some fucking far camp just to do some useless fucking exercises which doesn’t help in passing the test? Tell me again how fucking efficient is that??

    Migration is certainly in the plans, I will not subject my future sons to this fucking treatment, your new fucking FTs turn citizens can fill in the fucking slots in SAF you think? FUCK YOU FUCK YOUR NS AND DREAM ON, they will leave when it’s time to! No fucking idiot would defend another land that they don’t belong to, and this is another topic altogether. PAP really think these foreigners want to settle down here and let their blood suck dry by them when they are old and useless. Fucking naive.

  76. To Fucking Pissed Sporean,
    You indeed have very strong points on your statement. I am totally agreeable.
    We service men are all different physical abilities, might be fit but for sure to be handicapped on certain activities. Agreed.
    PR turn Citizens will never be the same as born Citizens. Majority them weren’t have loyality, forget about them defending for Singapore !!! Agreed.
    A five to you, Cheers !

  77. To Why NS?

    Hi 5!
    I referred to my own situation with the board jump, there are many many others I got to know with backache who can’t do situps, injured shoulders who can’t do chinups. And who the fuck pays for these injuries occurred during RT? Fucking SAF wants commitment from soldiers, when it comes to returning the favour, you die your own business. KNNBCCB, they expect any loyalty given the way they treat people? Fuck you SAF!

    This fucking RT session is an one size fits all approach which doesn’t focus on any point of specific weakness for individuals, do they expect to see people PASS IPPT just after 20 fucking sessions of RT with those general rubbish exercises? I particularly pity those in their late 30s and 40s doing the same exercises as the youngsters in their 20s. Shouldn’t those overpaid fuckers in Mindef have some fucking sense to separate the CAT Z & Z1 from the rest given that they are older and not as strong?

    This whole fucking discussion can go on and those buttfuck maggots in Mindef will just turn a deaf ear and sleep on it, even if anyone dies, it’s fine so long it’s not their son. Fuckers!

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  79. Let see to put all the ministers and their son together for IPPT, and the result is ?
    Let them do RT if they failed ? You dreaming !

  80. Alvin, I sense the bulk of your unhappiness with NS stems from the dreaded RT. Having been in that position before, I can empathise that it’s extremely disruptive (especially when you need to travel).
    I’ve always seen RT as an informal form of punishment for those not meeting IPPT standards. The good news is that RT can be avoided provided you train for it. It’s been years since my last RT and my main motivation these days is not so much to avoid RT, but rather a commitment to exercise and remain healthy for myself and my family. I still suck at chin-ups though. You can do it !!

  81. @Concerned citizen:

    Thanks for your well-reasoned post.

    1. I actually agree with you that invasion is not very likely to occur.

    My main grouse really was that both you and MR labelled me “misinformed” and “clueless” respectively when I was simply positing hypothetical reasons why an invasion *could* happen. Because my claim was NOT that invasion *would* or *will* happen, I thus felt aggrieved at being on the receiving end of strawman arguments from both of you.

    I’m glad though, that you’ve acknowledged the thrust of my message, and also the fact that *improbability* of invasion is not equivalent to *impossibility* of invasion.

    2. You said, “That is also ultimately what an army is for, to engage in warfare.”

    That is true of an army’s primary purpose, but let’s not forget an army can also fulfil secondary roles like peace-keeping, maintaining order in a state of emergency, and providing aid in response to natural disasters.

    3. “Instead of training on likely scenarios and gaining real combat experience, we wasted more resources on “media-ing” our army and showing off our technological might.”

    I think that the advertisement of our military capabilities does serve an important purpose: deterrence.

    I’m not an expert on this topic by any means, but I do believe that our military is probably the most modernised and the most well-equipped in the SEA region at least. Trumpeting these points can and does serve fair warning to any potential aggressor that they will definitely not find it a walk in the park to take over our little red dot.

    4. “It seems like what we are doing are just fighting small insurgents in remote places instead of likely scenarios on how to defend against an attack coming from within our country, our coast or the north.”

    My own Reservist experiences whilst serving in 2PDF seem to indicate otherwise. My past unit was an example of one that focused solely on coastal defence; our deployment area was in Simpang, which is of course in the Northern part of Singapore.

    As for attacks from within Singapore itself, I would think that the duty of dealing with these may lie with specialised counter-terrorism units rather than with the army as a whole.

    5. “… if we fight against a similar 3G army, we would sustain more damage as we have more to lose when the enemy strike behind our lines due to our limited landmass and military forces.”

    It goes without saying that any force, 3G or otherwise, which manages to penetrate an opponent’s main line of defence can do more damage compared to just facing it head-on.

    Contrary to your view however, I think our limited landmass actually gives us the advantage in defending: simply because this really makes it harder for the invader to find safe spots to drop off their quick-strike forces. In fact, just the mere fact that we would be an entrenched defender (coastal defence units like the one I was in would be really dug-in during wartime) should already make us not-so-easy to overrun.

    And regarding your point about our “limited” forces: Proper defence is one way we can reduce the advantage of a larger invader’s sheer strength of numbers.

    6. I agree with you that the way some of us NS men are treated makes it difficult to develop any strong patriotic feelings. This is one challenge the country’s leaders have to seriously think about.

    7. Regarding your analysis of possible war scenarios: I personally do not wish to speculate too much on such a topic. The world we live in is a complicated one, and I don’t think it’s safe to eliminate other potential sources of conflict just as you have done.

    The way I see it, the world is divided into two main blocs, with the traditional NATO allies and their newer friends on one side, and the Communism-ideology countries combined with the anti-USA states on the other. I tend to believe that a big enough flashpoint between any members on either side of this divide has the potential to spark off a greater conflict.

    I honestly wonder where you draw so much confidence from in limiting possible “wider war” scenarios to just two events.

  82. The system has discriminated all of us in the first place. When I read that the British wanted to do a military conscription (like as in Bermuda) back in the ’50s, many of our forefathers went to strike and determined to get our own government to rule instead so that they would be justified to serve a local government, rather than a colonial one. However, as many of them was also instigated by Communists back then (and still we still have a lot of pro-PRC people who loves their own “fight for my own turf AND eat other of our own people”), it serves an opportunity to knock the colonial masters out and at the same time, control and attain their loyalty to achieve a very mythical objective – a paradise island filled with wealthy people of similar status as themselves eventually (which this island is today actually). I also got called names such as Lousy Lee but don’t bother them (because their dad or mum probably works in the civil service in the department where all of you guys coincidentally happened to be in for 1 to 3 weeks’ of annual call-up).

    Just follow those who have migrated (just like my ex-form teacher with his Singaporean girlfriend (now wife)) and they always will come around the world begging us to come back to contribute to their selfish bottom line!

  83. @mlj

    Thank you for your comment as it does help to point out flaws within my own thoughts and argument so that I can also improve my way of thinking.

    I think that the army may not necessary have to do such stuff although it is convenient in both logistic and resource to get the army to perform the secondary roles you mention. The Japan Self-Defense Force is one such enigma that are meant to do such roles but it is not classified as an army. Even though in almost every aspect they are an army, but legally they’re not. The “soldiers” are technically called JSDF members instead of soldiers and the defense policy is quite interesting. I sometimes wonder if it is a good idea for our female or new citizens to enlist in such a “force”.

    I agree it does serve the purpose of deterrence but with all the “wayang”, can we actually fight when the pretense is down? Since we are still a young nation, many will be impressed by our modernized army but eventually down the years, those who are initially impressed would want to see our army actually able to perform more than just war games and technology display. The reason why Israeli Armed Forces is so feared and respected not just because they talk the talk, but they have walk the talk with years of military conflicts.

    I have totally forgot about PDF and the coastal defence missions but unfortunately, such missions are usually only for PDF and seldom you see the infantry force doing such missions. I’m sorry but I could not comment more about this because some of the information are confidential.

    You make a valid point regarding the advantage of entrenchment. Defense is always easier than attacking, but that also encourage our aggressor to resort to strategic bomb and other unconventional warfare in order to weaken our defense. Therefore, we should improve our defense strategy based on other threats or warfare instead of a strategy based on just conventional invasion.

    All I can say is I read a little too much on foreign relations between each country and recent trends. Using economics as a set of tools, sometimes you could reach a conclusion by researching on the right question. However, I maybe wrong and mistaken that is why if I ever write something, I welcome debates and arguments regarding the points I made.

    The reason why I only narrow it down to just US against the next top 2 superpower is due to the global relation and influence that US has. In addition, due to US current activist foreign policy, US will definitely be a participant of the world war. Until they start to adopt a less activist foreign policy or change of grand strategy, no matter where the trouble is, US will definitely like to stick their nose in.

    Thank you for reading and debating my points.

  84. The government should actually make use of the money spent on compensating the salaries of NS men for ICT / RT etc etc and use it to provide higher salaries for professional soldiers by making it an attractive career option in terms of financial compensation for professional soldiers. At the same time, the soldiers that are signing on will be a professional and well trained/armed army, that will be able to defend the nation in return for the nation’s initiative for them to be adequately compensated for putting their lives on the line for the nation

    Also, one thing that is vastly different from our soldiers and the soldiers in other countries that practice NS are that their citizens respect the soldiers much more than what we get here. On the contrary, our wives, girlfriends, colleagues and employers all look down on this “serving the nation” instead of feeling proud that their male citizens are willing to sacrifice their lives for the nation as it should be. This is coming from a NS men who seen how the Taiwanese respect their soldiers by offering them food, water and a place to rest during their training and with admiration and with a caring heart for their sacrifice, which I don’t think it’s the case here.

    1. @ mr weird, what you said is true. Nsmen are less respected here in sg as compared to taiwan. When I was in taiwan doing deployment, I had to drive aeound the country. Every where we go, people and kids will wave at us and show their appreciation for what soldiers are doing for their country. What do we get here in sg? People avoiding nsf because they are smelly? People taking pictures of nsmen sitting on the bus and put on stomp. Nasty comments on how weak nsmen are in sg. What is the point of sacrificing and defending a country which have such spirit?

  85. @Concerned citizen:

    3. The Israeli forces have only earned their reputation because they have no choice but to fight, constantly. I think if you offered Israel the level of peace that Singapore enjoys in exchange for whatever repute their armed forces have, they would gladly take it!

    Would you rather have our army constantly participate in active combat in order to truly prove ourselves? My own position is that, in the absence of active conflict, displaying our military might via wayang is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, for the sake of my fellow citizens, I would go so far as to say wayang is infinitely preferable to being in actual combat; even if we cannot really “walk the talk”, just “talking the talk” is good enough for me if we can deter potential invaders.

    4. I’m not sure by what metric you define “infantry”, but my past Reservist unit was an SIR one, even if it fell under the PDF umbrella. That made it an infantry unit as far as I’m concerned.

  86. @mlj

    Thanks for your reply.

    You’re right that Israel will want the peace that Singapore enjoy, but sadly, their feud with Arabs go way back before the bible was even written I think. Even if they had peace, it’ll just be a ceasefire until something spark off their animosity again. Fortunately they turn it into an advantage and exporting of military technology is one of their key revenue.

    Anyway, what I mean is wayang may deter invaders for now, but can it last? It’s just like in any potential job recruitment, they will always look at your years of experience and achievements before anything else. Besides, I think that having our regulars experienced some form of real combat (some oversea missions where they can get shot at instead of just peacekeeping missions), would actually earn more respect for our army. I always feel something within myself died whenever a US soldier found out and was shocked that a 20 year old can get to be a lieutenant without going through any combat.

    2PDF is an infantry unit which responsibility is protection of installation. SIR is just an infantry battalion and 8 and 9 SIR is under 2PDF. The other battalions and infantry brigade not in 2PDF are usually not involved in defense. Based on the force structure, I assume that our grand strategy is what I mentioned earlier, “defending vital positions in Singapore and our neighbouring country which we must win at all cost while protecting its citizens with enough offensive capability to disable aggressive military forces coming towards Singapore”. I’m unsure if just 2PDF alone (1PDF is 3rd Div now) would suffice for defense due to unknown strength in 2PDF.

  87. When the time comes, if singapore really has to go to war, the government will call you up, and you will have to leave behind your wife and your children and join the other men at the front line. If you do not, you will be arrested by your own country. If you die in battle, that’s really too bad. Your family is unlucky. deal with it. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional who worked really hard to get where you are in life; it doesn’t matter if you are pulling in 100k per month. When war hits, the value of all men’s lives are the same. Is it fair? To throw into battle civilians who go through the motions of life everyday and you, a high flyer who worked harder(yes, harder, that’s why you are where you are in life now) than them? Someone who contributed to the country’s GDP a hundred, no, a thousand times more than an ordinary citizen. Someone who donates generously to organizations such as Singapore pocket fund. Some say that we cannot put a value on human life, but there are cases when it is obvious that one life is worth more than the other. Someone like top entrepreneur Nicholas Chan cannot be compared to an ordinary citizen, simply because he is worth more.

    And if you do not obey your government’s orders, because you love your family and you love your children. If Singapore really fights a war and the UN does not intervene, the chances are that we will lose; there will be an occupation of Singapore. And you want to be around during the occupation to ensure your family suffer as minimally as possible. Because of that, you will be thrown into jail by the very government you served for 2 years in NS and the 20 years later fulfilling your reservist duties, to allow SIngapore to maintain a military force to ward off potential invaders. Is there a choice? Don’t be foolish, get into your gear and report for duty. Live every day under the pressure of wanting to survive for your family instead of sacrificing yourself in war. When the time comes that the military are defeated, and the occupation is inevitable, you search for a chance to escape from the ranks so that you can get back to your family and protect them.
    The enemy’s waves crush the Singapore forces daily, and soon it is obvious to all that defeat is inevitable. One night, you decide to make the best decision for yourself and your family; you try to escape. As you skulk around the perimeters looking for a way home, the guards; your own guards, whom you fought alongside for the past month, spots you and guns you down.

    1. Huh? Too cheem, I dun understand.

      If war breaks out, you want to stay with your wife and kids instead of reporting to camp. Ok. How you gonna protect them against an enemy with a rifle? With your bare hands?

      So Nicholas Chan is more important than other civilians because he work harder and is “worth more”. Firstly, who dafuq is Nicholas Chan? Secondly, work harder dun mean you’re automagic worth more ok, my neighborhood karang guni man work sibei hard but he’s damn poor. Thirdly, our good PAP ministers also worth a lot leh, so they dun need to fight too is it?

      Escape from the ranks if sg is occupied? Where will “the ranks” be? You think sg so big that we won’t all be surrendering to the occupying force meh? And again, you escape to go back to your family, but if you finally reach them, you use what to protect them?

  88. Actually I dun get why everyone is a farking coward. If your house catch fire, or kena burglar, you will first make sure your wife and kids are safe. Then you do what? Try to minimise damage by going back in your house and help if possible, or you will run and hide?

    If your country kena attack, you ensure your family is safe first then go and fight lah. Let’s say you cannot fly elsewhere, you still won’t fight? If everyone like you go hide and the enemy therefore confirm win, you think you and your family got good life to lead meh? You think you can stop the enemy soldiers from raping your wife and putting your kids in labor camp simply because you are with them? Don’t be stupid man.

    So many pple condemn ns. Imagine a country with no conscript army, just professional one – which is what you all want. You think the civilians won’t try and defend their country or help out if they can? Or will they all be cowards like you all and run away?

  89. The issue with National Service (NS) has never been about its duration of two years or two years six months, or about the frequency of the In-Camp Trainings (ICT), or about the annual Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT). Nor is it about it being unfair to Singaporean men.

    The crux of the issue is that a growing number of Singaporeans are feeling deliberately excluded from Singapore’s prosperity. And they using NS to vent their frustrations.

    You are a Singaporean male. You did your two years of NS. When you enter a tertiary institution, you discover that a majority of the students there are not Singaporeans. Many of them are on scholarships paid for by our local tax payers, while your parents had to scrimp, save and maybe take a loan to pay for your educations. And you had to survive two years of NS without getting killed, or injured or maimed before you earned the right to take a loan to pay for your university fees. And thousands of foreigners who don’t have to do NS get a free ride. It sucks to be you.

    You worked hard, and you finally graduated. You now try to find a job. You find it tough, because many of the hiring managers are foreigners. And despite their public claims that they hire on merit, it turns out that most of them prefer to hire their own kind. If they hire locals, they usually mean Permanent Residents (PR) and not Singapore citizens, especially those who still have ICT obligations. Your friends who found jobs in the Civil Service don’t mind ICT, since it doesn’t affect their career prospects in the slightest. You try to complain, but most Singaporeans say ‘whatever.’ They really couldn’t care less if you drown in your own puddle of blood. They think this only happens to other Singaporeans. They usually wake up their ideas when they find themselves driving taxis and working as security guards, missing the days when they were once hot shots in their industry.

    Eventually, you found a job. You worked hard, neglected your health and family for the job. And you still got fired anyway simply because the new manager is a foreigner, and wants to bring in his own buddies. It is easy to do so, since firing a citizen doesn’t break any labour laws, and MOM doesn’t have a reputation of taking stern and decisive action against foreigners who hire their own kind. I have yet to read of such foreigners being sent packing back to their home countries. When caught with blatant discriminatory practices, foreigners simply shrug their shoulders and say ‘Oops. Typo mistake. Won’t do it again.’ No foreign hiring manager will be fired.

    So, while Singapore prospers, you find yourself increasingly shut out of its wealth. You discovered the hard way that the real reason you did NS, and why your son has to do NS, is to provide a safe and secure environment for foreigners to hire their own kind and exclude Singaporeans from good jobs. Maybe the foreigners will try to meet the Singaporean quota by restricting lower entry jobs to Singaporeans only. But the good stuff will be kept exclusively for their own kind. Not by merit, but by race and nationality and maybe even caste.

    You try to complain to MOM. But this is a non-issue. Why should it be an issue? The foreigner who replaced you will pay taxes too. The minister in charge knows the chances of his party losing the elections is very low. So, he and his team of civil servants will continue to draw their good salaries. Aljunied GRC? Punggol-East? Who cares? Nearly everyone else won. And a bad election result for the party is still the best result anywhere in the world of democratic elections. A win of 67% is considered a landslide win by any standards. Tough luck on those unlucky losers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Next time you want to complain about NS, get straight to the point. It isn’t about men versus women. It isn’t about Singaporeans versus foreigners. There were foreigners too back in the 1970s and 1980s. But back in those days, after you did your NS and ICT, your job was still safe. There were many good jobs around for Singaporeans.

    Now, there aren’t. They are mostly reserved for foreigners and their kind. You fear going back for ICT because by the time you got back, your job may be gone. Your annual disappearing act might give the foreign manager a stronger reason to either fire you or no longer hire Singaporeans with NS obligations. There are many ways to do so and get away clean.

    Sure, the recruitment ads will now be mostly free from discriminatory practice. And the companies will have to advertise through a government recruitment portal. But you and I know the HR people will only politely
    collect your CV but still tell you to go fuck yourself because you are a Singaporean. Worse still, if you are a Singaporean male burdened by NS obligations.

    There are many ways to present good paperwork on why Singaporean male graduates from the top local universities in Singapore are less qualified than foreign candidate from some unaccredited or lowly ranked universities from Third World countries. And there is a high chance the candidates from the Third World countries didn’t actually earn their qualifications on their own merit. But they will still get the job simply because the hiring managers are their own countrymen. And foreigners who insist on hiring foreigners will not be fired and repatriated swiftly. We now have a system that encourages and rewards such discriminatory practices. Or simply because local bosses prefer ‘cheaper, better and faster. And foreign (read as no need to do pesky ICT and RT training.’ And that’s the real reason why you are unhappy about the unfairness of National Service.

    NS Man

  90. NS is Modern Slavery that the government uses to keep tabs on men in Singapore. Using scare tactics that we will be invaded if we cannot defend ourselves. Spending billions of dollars on military equipment that will not benefit the poor and homeless. Glad I gave up my citizenship so that my son will never have to go through this pointless period that is called National Service. The government does not appreciates its own people, just look at the immigration policy. MINDEF wanted my son to serve NS even though we migrated to Canada when he was 3! Go figure the logic in that. Only way to have the system reviewed is to vote out the PAP in the next elections. Good luck to you guys.

  91. If Singapore is attacked does anyone think that going to camps and lining up for weapons will push back the attackers? First of all all the roads will be jammed, planes bomb the army camps while you are lining up to get your weapons and ammo, good luck!

  92. If Singapore is attacked does anyone think that going to camps and lining up for weapons will push back the attackers? First of all all the roads will be jammed, planes bomb the army camps while you are lining up to get your weapons and ammo, good luck!

    You joking rite? If what you say is true, then in history there would be no wars liao. Just attackers winning…

    And you like that try to scare pple from even wanting to help defend, lagi even less chance to “push back the attackers” lah. Might as well roll over and die immediately if we were unable to escape when war started.

    Lucky you give up citizenship so I dun need to defend you. So which country did you go and become free-loading FT in?

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  95. NS is less a defence issue nowadays and more a means of social engineering. Singapore can afford to have paid professional soldiers, with the right to conscript in times of war. Some of the basic military skills can be part of secondary school ECA. So all males would already know how to handle weapons by the time they finish school. Leave the tanks, fighter planes etc to the professional soldiers.

  96. I am so sad to read many negative comments here. It is obviously many do not understand the predicament Singapore is always in. For all the troubles you currently face, you should realise you still have a proper home to go back to and a career to pursue. Just think of the construction workers and the maids that came to our country to work. Just look at the foreign women that work in the Karaoke lounges and the red light districts. Just realise how lucky we all are. I’m sure after writing this down here, many people will brand me as a Mindef IB. If I am a Mindef IB, then I can say you are all traitors or spoil brats who deserved a spanking. You don’t understand or believe the problems we Singaporeans are in. During the war, we had just wished someone could have come and save us and also gave us a decent meal to last through the day. So many of our male family members were all rounded up and taken away by the barbaric Japanese never to be seen again. How many of our love ones also died of starvation and illness and we never see them again. During the Confrontation, we were also so sacred of the bombs going off all over the island. We didn’t even know if our family members would be next. If only there were some people or some organisations back then that could have helped us, defended us and protected us. If only you know the cruel and traumatic times we had gone through. And you still dare to talk about your time for you job and your hair check.

    1. My father’s father was taken away by the kempetai when my father was 10 years old. So I never got to know my paternal grandfather. No hardship in the SAF that i went through compares.

  97. lol. uncle joo resurrecting a dead thread.

    Ok, uncle joo, I’ll give you a run for your money.

    You talk about survival. About World War 2 and the Confrontation.

    I have news for you. The confrontation is over. So is world war 2. Meanwhile the rest of us are trying to keep our jobs, earn a living and feed our families. All the while the government nags us about being more productive, going for retraining/ self- improvement, making more babies.

    Fuck that and fuck you

    Here’s a dose of reality: I just finished my NS ICT. Even before I leave for my NS ICT, my department secretary tut-tutted and asked me why I have to choose this time to go (when it’s obviously not my choice??).

    While at my NS ICT I was still constantly bombarded by emails and phone calls from work. While loading stores and I;m telling my potential future employer why my applications are late. While sitting in a 5 ton truck in SBO and helmet, i’m trying to reschedule a course I’m supposed to be at. While I’m running around doing artillery drills, my boss is irritated that I’m gone and possibly scheming to give my job to someone else.

    So yes. I dare to complain about my fucking job. Because no- one else will feed my family if I lose my job. But I will still have to do fucking NS ICT/IPPT/RT.

    Who’s going to give me a new job? Fuck that and fuck you.

    The day our government properly recognizes my contribution to NS will be the day I stop complaining about it.

  98. Alvin do you do regular cardio exercise or do you only start running only a few weeks before your ippt test date? if you are the latter, then i have no sympathy for you.

  99. As a fellow Singaporean currently staying in overseas, there is point about national service which i had seen and i hated it. In army, we know those we went to tekong could only be officer and those who could not are send to units straight. When i was posted to my unit, i realize everyone there was many of them from ITE and they had never had the chance to be a officer because they could not enter tekong., all they can do is have a chance to be sgt. Not to mention is a very low probability chance. I feel that the discrimination in education is too obvious by our goverment. They would always promote ITE or diploma, but yet in their army system the difference is so obvious.

  100. Alvin, what is your opinion of those young boys who emigrated with their parents? Do you agree with the harsh treatment by Mindef disallowing them to return, given that they no longer want to be part of the Singaporean society, and want to start a brand new life in their new chosen countries.

    Unless the PAP and Mindef is doing this exactly to send a message to current Singaporeans to deter them from moving elsewhere and getting foreign citizenships.

  101. I agreed with ur views..bt I m far worse..I m going to be 39..all my no.4 can’t wear.or I should say no longer fitting. N my unit r.O.d without me as u deferred 3 ict..nw I put on a stupid holding list where I m like a unwanted child of the army..

    By the time they call me for reservist who know when is it will be …could be like when I m 44 ..I can no longer run or jump like I used to be..they say u will be on holding list till u reach 45 or till we say we dun need u..so unfair as they void my emart credit n can’t one to exchange my items.

    Who wants to pay for ur own army items..stupid systems

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