SCOPE: I refer to the news that NS men will be fined and confined to exercise for 5 days or a week for IPPT defaulters of 3 times, and deem this important to provide my feedback to the state.
First of all, I appreciate the government’s keen interest to maintain the fitness of the NS men or reservists… but it should be more precise for Singapore’s case, that the people are considered ‘civilians’.
Indeed we need an army ready to defend the country… which is now burdened in many many many upsetting ways due to internal and external factors. As we have more foreigners coming to our island to compete with true blue Singaporeans and even the new citizens, it is about time to raise something important with this new measure.
After spending precious 2 and half years in NS… which I found it grossly horrible, useless and utterly demoralizing for military situation in times of need, of which I have tons of examples which may not be diplomatically appropriate to share here, while the reservists or civilians, to be precise, will still need to be burdened with seemingly never-ending IPPT, we also have one issue to deal with when it comes to SAF.
Many reservists, and that should include current NS men, may have known one thing…
The military conscripts the population to serve, but many a time… in such a tiny country so compact, the military has been all along recruiting the same sort of people…
1. Many of us are expected to know their wills and fancies everyday should a rule change, or a minute issue will impact whatever… when most of us, upon ORD-ed, really won’t go all the love to pester our supposedly military commanders who are mostly having a military career for all those updates, new rules, new penalties and all such…
2. Most of us are not regulars, we have many things to load our brains and memories full, yet we have to constantly be HAUNTED by mobs-manning, ICTs, IPPTs and even RTs… and the military expects civilians to know the details… as if everyone is a clone of everyone else.
3. There have been cases in my experiences during NS and after that whenever we asked for details and tried to cooperate with our units… I myself got all sorts of responses, and many times… they were not reliable. Nobody really knows the details and how to help civilians, and worse… after a big wild goose chase, as many reservists would understand SAF by now… despite our best efforts to work with them in spite of our civilian burdens, when something goes wrong, it is as if we never asked… and we get the blame, and we are expected to be faulted.
4. It seems that the SAF assumes that civilians’ life is some sort of ‘model’, like… some ‘The SIMs 4’ game, that there is an ‘explanation’ for everything, and the military part can judge a civilian’s life in accordance to some people making a living in military careers while the civilians are left in the cold. If Singapore is operating under a junta, I will just say ‘OK, you win… you don’t need to understand civilian life despite we don’t make a living like you signing on’. But the problem and reality is… there are a lot more challenges and obligations for people outside the military sphere of mindsets and behaviors, and this is like some sort of CONSTANT ‘cultural shocks’ purposely administered and persisted by the SAF.
Basically, the point is… while my friendly humble self can understand a colonel’s duty to manage the military aspects of the government, however… Can I and all other civilians (aka reservists) expect the military to in turn show respect and understanding to us who have ‘donated’ about 2 precious years to the NS while the government continues to rope in more foreign competition, telling us to be paranoid about losing our lunch to them and many of us are left in the cold to fend for ourselves with ‘PAP is behind Singaporeans’ and be expected to even integrate with them?
Be it a fine which may be little to a super-scale decision maker in the SAF, or detention barracks or the current intention of confinement for about a week…
Basically the issue has been outstanding… the military management of civilian life has been pretty ‘singular’ in direction, and too assuming on civilians for an appropriate judgement.
It is true that Singapore needs a military arm, but conscription has been too long left untouched to the point that it has ‘chewed’ into civilian aspects of Singapore at times to the point of recklessness, of political, social, economical and last but no least… of confusion.
There should only be one ‘government’, and military and civilian governance always have two spheres; while we can indeed have military life in a civilian sphere…
(eg) Because the IPPT defaulters may not be in huge numbers doesn’t imply that military governance does not need to be ‘integrated’ with civilian life. And once a conscript ends NS, he’d be facing challenges of the society GOVERNED by non-military rules, hence sphere. Be it detention or confinement, that’d directly interfere with civilian governance… because in order to (eg) pay tax, people have bosses to answer to, to appeal to for recruitment, and the government needs civilians to handle the education and feeding plus daily care of the babies.
Since Singapore is not run by a junta, Singaporeans do have their problems… trying to cope with two as the world has changed without really much help from the leadership… that no longer can even the ministers claim job security for the people, nor of quality jobs, but we can expect loans and fluctuating interest rates.
And of course… we can expect “Not happy, just migrate” or even “No one owns you a living” despite “PAP is behind Singaporeans” when votes were persuaded, instead of solid concrete help.
Hence I deem it a need to suggest politely and respectfully that the government, with so many military ‘talents’ now in parliament to seriously consider the need to change.
Since we are not at war with anyone, pertaining this issue on IPPT… may I raise this puzzle why do we need to constantly ‘train’ for yearly IPPT when we have a what… 5 days of confinement to train? If the 5 days of confinement to train will not produce a pass for IPPT, isn’t it a serious military inefficiency?
And if an NS man can pass IPPT after only 5 days confinement…
…why the hack do we need yearly IPPT? All we need will be 5 days before war to get fit.
Given Singapore’s political situation when it comes to international relations… at least for the past few decades, the region has no real cause for war, but we have RT going on… If RT doesn’t produce a pass, and a pass in IPPT has no real use, isn’t it time we think of something more applicable to Singapore’s defense situation than to burden the civilian resources only to demoralize the people by the time the war really arrives?
Simply… if people must fight, it is common sense that they be expecting to fight under good leadership, and such leadership would have better management of the population during peace time.
The question is pretty simple…
Between military governance and civilian governance… after ORD-ed from NS, why has the integration been so… messy?
If today we can have 5 days detention or confinement orders from military affecting civilian life… tomorrow, we can have 5 years… 50 years confinement orders… for what? A war currently?
Worse… Not only does military interference of civilian life via judgements and orders, there is seemingly no laudable recourse I am aware of in case of necessary appeal against a ‘junta-style’ governance.
I must confess that due to seriously solid justification, I myself am not a big fan of SAF, hence… naturally am not only still blur of the SAF situation, but probably won’t be that updated about military development like many other reservists… which is actually a common issue because even the leaders suggested that many Singaporeans aren’t even aware of government aids… so it is only natural and common sense that most of us won’t really be so aware, hence are blur of SAF’s operations.
But with leaders such as Mr Chan Chun Sing and Mr Tan Chuan-Jin from the military in the parliament, I would like to see a tomorrow where (eg) IPPT defaulters won’t need to be affected in their civilian lifestyle due to military decision makers.
Yes yes yes… I can understand the need to have a competent defense for Singapore. But which is precisely why I am raising the need to integrate the spheres PROPERLY after so many years… and when the world has changed so much since the late Goh Keng Swee’s era.
As such, since we are not clones, and this is no ‘The SIMs 4’, I sincerely hope Colonel Ng can come out with something more ‘civilian-friendly’ to the defaulters not only on IPPT… but for ICTs and such.
It must be known that once a ‘non-civilian friendly’ decision is made… as in the known SAF culture to many of us, ‘blame-pushing’ will not be efficient and motivating.
SAF should maintain a competent form, indeed. So firstly, it must adapt to the civilians’ changed world…
But so far… it seems that SAF expects the world to remain stagnant and the people or the world to adapt to SAF. I reckon Colonel Ng… or Mr Ng may understand an average Singaporean’s daily life after NS… is after NS.
SAF should aim to motivate the people to fend for Singapore… not to push for a revolt against the goodwill to defend the country due to carelessness.
It would be regrettable that despite these concerns raised… nothing really changes in the end.
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