Blogger slammed for calling NS a "slavery system"? - Alvinology

Blogger slammed for calling NS a “slavery system”?

Nice headline by The New Paper (TNP) today on my two NS blog posts (On National Service and On Alex Liang):

Blogger slammed for calling NS a "slavery system"? - Alvinology

Blogger slammed?

“While some neitizens agreed with him, most criticised him”?

I did an empirical coding of all the 415 comments (as of 8pm SGT, 9 Oct 2013) left on my two NS blog posts into four broad categories:

  1. Slammed NS
  2. Slammed Blogger
  3. Ambivalent
  4. Irrelevant

Here are the results:

Comment Type % of total comments % of total “slammed” comments
Slammed NS 249 60 77
Slammed Blogger 74 18 23
Ambivalent 27 7
Irrelevant 65 15

Should the headline be blogger slammed or NS slammed?

I will leave it to discerning readers to answer the question yourself.

If you think that I cheated or had been biased with the coding, please feel free to have a dig at the data and categorise them yourself. Feel free to share your results. Here is a link to the coding I did for everyone’s scrutiny. 

Btw, TNP did not try to contact me for this article. They just published it by picking all the most sensational quotes from my blog articles.


  1. never commented here before. but just want to say that i didn’t see the point the article is trying to make. it’s just an attempt to discredit you and make you look like a whiner. moreover, it appears the paper wants to trivialise your personal concerns and realities and i think that is despicable and malicious.

    your views of NS is your own and you get support as well as a bit of disagreement, but the way this has been framed is disappointing. if you feel you’re treated like crap even though you have fulfilled your NS obligations, you have the right to feel so and say so. but your views (and the reactions) certainly don’t deserve to be framed this way.

  2. Alvin, I commend you for putting in such an effort to individually code and provide everyone with descriptive statistics of the comments that were in the previous post. Kudos to you for providing a clarification.

    Having said that, I don’t believe the headline is wrong to say that you were slammed, the fact is there were people who did slam your views. Headlines are always written or phrased to catch readers’ attentions. However, I certainly felt that the reporter did injustice to the responses to your blog post with the statement- “While some netizens agreed with him, most criticised him”. That would be inaccurate reporting based on the statistics you have provided.

    I have not taken the effort to verify the accuracy of your coding, but I trust that it is accurate. However, I would like to make the suggestion for you to provide another way to analyse this issue, in that you take the ‘individual’ instead of the ‘comment’ as the unit of analysis. I notice some individuals have made numerous comments about the issue and 3-5 comments from an individual will certainly skew the statistics. If you were able to group the responses of an individual and then code the individual to one of the four categories, it would make for more objective statistics on your part too.


  3. @Jem: Thanks for the suggestion. I thought of accounting for individual comments too, but they seem to balance out. This is just a simplistic and non-scientific count to get a general sense of things.

    With regards, to the headline, I never said it was wrong. There were indeed people who slammed me. Nonetheless, if one were to do a simple count, wouldn’t it be more newsy that there are more people slamming NS?

    Btw, most of those I labelled as “slammed bloggers” did not slam me directly. I just classified all the pro-NS comments in that category.

  4. @alvin, Thanks for you clarification about the analysis. I did not imply that you said the headline was wrong. It was my opinion that it is not wrong and, although not direct and explicit, it was in response to the question you posed- “Should the headline be blogger slammed or NS slammed?”.

  5. My first comment at your site but I felt that I have to give you encouragement.
    Taking on the establishment is surely going to invite all the main stream media to attack you because they are PAP’s mouth piece. But I agreed with what you had to say in those 2 articles. Keep it up.

  6. Alvin, have you played or still play, any sports? (those that involve running or using strength). Bowling is not sports it is a recreation like golf.

  7. @SportsForHealth

    What is your point in asking this? How is it relevant to the debate on NS review?

    To answer you nonetheless, yes, I used to do competitive swimming and had competed and won medals for my unit during my NS days in the Navy.

  8. Hey Alvin, just to let you know I fully feel what you feel with regards to NS obligations. I frequently comment to my friends that Singapore treats its soldiers and male citizens like criminals, ready to charge them at any time and impose fines/send them to jail for not complying with whatever unreasonable rules they have.

    At this moment, I still have 4 outstanding IPT sessions, with 8 more RT sessions on the way because I just cannot pass IPPT even if I trained for it (I tried hard). And an immediate 2-weeks ICT after that, followed by the annual medic refresher course and another 18 sessions of physical training at FCCs; none of which I can default for, out of fear of being charged. Even my mum asks me why I have to go to camp so much even after having ORD-ed 5 years ago.

    Just this year, I was called back for medic refresher training without being called back for ICT, rendering my yearly 18 sessions of IPT/RT and refresher course TOTALLY “wasted” because it doesn’t count as part of the 10-year reservist cycle.

    It really is emotionally draining and disruptive to my life to have to do this again and again and again. I even feel sad talking about it :((

  9. Do be honest, I have not read your article, however the title does give some hint to what the topic is about, and I must say it is a very bold statement. I’m also on the same side of the fence as you when it come to this. Another fact is I don’t read the TNP nor the Straight times for a couple of years already.

    Putting my own opinions aside, all I can say is as usual, the papers have shot themselves in the foot. Why? It just brings to light people like you, and put you in the limelight. Its a very good advertisement for you. Make full use of it! If they did not write about you, it would just go its rounds on the internet. But its crossed over to the papers to people who may not have read your blog. After this, more people will definitely read your blog, not the other way around. I’m not sure what the papers are trying to do, but they failed again.. miserably.. as usual.

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  11. Alvin, I read your 2 earlier articles after you posted it but I did not comment or whatsoever. I rarely comment to articles I read online, whether I agree or disagree.

    Having read about what TNP wrote about you from your post, my only respond is: “What? You still buy and read the local papers?” The only time I would purchase a Straits Times, if I do buy one, is when I wanted to seek some bargains from their advertisements on a Saturday.

    Nevertheless, I agree fully with your comments and thoughts about the NS. I MRed 10 years ago and nope, I have not experienced any RT session during my time, but I still have to say that NS suck!

    The only one thing I learn from my NS stint is just: “Do whatever you want, but don’t get caught.” However this statement had caused me a lot of trouble including one that landed me in jail, because I often get caught. Learned my lessons in a hard hard way. Other than that, NS is basically a waste of time, or for those people who wish to show their egoistic by treating punishing subordinates senselessly as an enjoyment.

  12. Hi Alvin, I just wanted to voice my support for you against this ridiculous article – I have come to expect nothing less from the Singapore press.

    However, what about those who are on the fence like myself: ie. I would gladly slam NS any day of the week given how the system can be improved (yet so many Singaporeans are reluctant to talk about improving the system for all involved) … But at the same time, I do feel that you did miss the point by focusing on IPPT and haircuts when there are more serious issues at stake here.

    So it’s not that I wanna ‘slam’ you per se (that’s a strong word), but I would politely beg to differ on some of the issues you have raised whilst still agreeing with you that much of NS leaves much to be desired and there’s a lot of room for improvement indeed.

    So with that in mind, that kinda puts me on the fence … I’m not agreeing wholeheartedly your points, I’m not pro-NS or pro-PAP either. We don’t have to all sing from the same song sheet and agree on everything of course, as long as we have managed to stimulate a healthy debate on the debate on the issue NS, I think that we’ve achieved what we’ve set out to do as bloggers and social commentators.

    Thank you.

  13. I guess the main problem with sg men is not actually doing or not doing ns but rather a resentment against females who don’t have to do it? Well the government can easily make it compulsory for women but it wld never do that because then it has to definitely increase the legal marriage age to 20+ then… We can’t have pregnant and breastfeeding women and doing physically demanding stuff can we… Many of your female counterparts may be getting married late but many do tend to get married early… And that is that jus one small issue… There are also many women who suffer from very bad period pains each mnth… Which rly does weaken the body cos of the loss of blood… Men and women are made different biologically and someone has to do ns… If it is made compulsory for women, it wld make more sense to design the programme to what women are best at doing… Defence isn’t all physical… I honestly don’t think its productive for females to go through the gruelling treatment we do… And it is my country anyway… Compared to the suffering of so many other countries… I wld gladly do ns for spore…

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