Hey guys, i'm just going to go straight into it. I dropped out of sec 4 when i was 15 because i was bullied.My family and I moved abroad after that and i went to an international school to get my highschool diploma, halfway through CMBP/Mindef told me i would have to return to SG to serve NS, i went back on April 2014 for NS registration and Medical checkup.
Basically i'm stuck in Singapore alone till the enlistment and i don't have a highschool diploma .I know i need a highschool diploma to study abroad in a Uni after NS . I don't plan to stay or live in SG , the only reason i'm here is to serve NS. I want to know what's the fastest route for me to get out of SG and back to my family. If anyone could take your time to read and reply i would really appreciate it !
Honestly i feel lonely and lost , i just want to be with my family. But i'm also thinking about my future , i have no highschool diploma , i cannot enter any Uni/College without it . I plan to either go back to finish highschool abroad or take O's on 2015 as i don't have enough money for it this year.
1: Are there any dangers of entering NS with Sec 3 being my highest qualification?
2: Should i take O's after or before NS?
3: When is the earliest i can enlist? I'm 17 turning 18 on Dec.
I apologize in advanced if this is confusing
There are a few things you nee do know:
1. You can study high school overseas. I am a Singaporean currently living in United States (I finished my NS and came to US when my company transferred me to California during the dot-com boom). My wife, who grew up in Hong Kong, did this. She came to California, did her high school, then did her university.
2. There are no "dangers" with NS, period. It is like an extended summer camp with uniforms. Just don't be stupid (eg. playing with your firearm while cleaning it), and you'll do alright with whatever your education is.
3. Since you're very close to enlistment, you might not have time to finish your O level. So I will wait a bit if I were you.
4. Check with CMPB, I believe once you turn 18 it'll just be a few months away. Take the time now to get fit to make things a little easier. Who knows, you might meet good friends in NS and those will be the best 2 years of your life.
After you have finished your NS, you will still be required to serve in the reserves until the age of 40 (or 45 of officers if I recall correctly). Here, you will have to make a decision.
In order for you to join your family overseas, you will need permission from MINDEF to leave Singapore and stay overseas. Meaning, you will have to show that you are enrolled in a school, or is employed overseas. If not, you cannot stay overseas for extended periods of time.
If you tell yourself "screw this crap, I don't want to deal with this", you can apply for and get citizenship from another country and renounce your Sigapore citizenship. Remember that you'll need to show your new country's passport before you can renounce your Singapore citizenship.
My recommendation: Don't be hasty and make a rash decision you'll regret. Making a living overseas isn't as easy as most Singaporeans think it is. Finish your NS, learn to be independent, then make an informed decision.
Serving NS is compulsary be it if have qualification or not. Having a good mental health whn you enlist is important. Please try to speak to your Officer or Senior Specialist or request for a professional counselor. The Officer and Senior Specialist only have been through some counselling courses but if youhave deep problem, they can't assist you professionally. Try to get to seek reliable help by going throught the proper channel when you enlist.
All the Best and Keep a Good Mental Health!
If you never plan to be back to SG,then you can skip.
You guys have no idea how thankful i am, thank you for replying!
I have 2 passports , when i returned to SG for medical checkup. They were suppose to arrest me at the airport, but because i didn't use my SG passport they didn't know i was back till i went to the police station to change my IC Address and they arrested me. Long story short, fine for not applying for exit permit with Mindef. I can easily go back right now with my other passport and never return to SG, i think i'm thinking this way because i'm depressed and i miss my family. I've never been depressed , this is the only time. I feel like i'm wasting 2 years of my youth, i'm just so lost.
I plan to serve NS as i'd want to travel safely in the future , but the only thing i'm worried about is my future. I plan to study in America/Canada after NS but i'll need my O's to do so. I don't know who to ask for help , i called Mindef and they told me i could only be granted deferment if i could enroll in the school. Problem is , school on starts on 2015 jan , i found a private school that starts on Oct 2014 .
So my birthday is on Dec, which means i would probably go in on March ? That means i'll be 20 when i'm out with no highschool cert.. I'm really worried about this . Or should i just ask them if i could defer for a year and take O's before i enter?
I've also asked Mindef about the 2month reduction , if i get a gold/silver i'll only need to serve 1 year 10 months, i'm confident in getting gold.
I don't think they'll allow a 20 year old to enter a highschool abroad.
pon NS lah. You already have another passport, come back to SG for what?
You are incredibly stupid. Escaping NS is not an extraditable crime.
I've already thought of skipping NS, but why would i risk my freedom for it . I don't intend to ever come back to SG , maybe when i'm like 50 and i want to bring my kids here .
Prepare for PTP/BMT: http://iprep.ns.sg/
Secrets to Pass IPPT: http://lifestyle.www.ns.sg/features/fitnessxchange
Types of Basic Military Training
PES A/B1 BMT
This 9-week programme trains combat-fit recruits in the basic military skills to prepare them for advanced vocational training. The programme includes weapon training with the SAR 21 rifle which will teach recruits technical handling and marksmanship skills; a Battle Inoculation Course that simulates a real battlefield; a Field Camp which develops basic survival skills; progressive training to complete a 24-km route march which builds combat fitness and endurance; and hand grenade training.
For those who fail to achieve the NAPFA test silver award, they are required to undergo an 8-week Physical Training Phase (PTP) prior to the PES A/B1 BMT.
PES BP BMT
As evidence has shown that obese recruits are able to achieve optimum fitness levels and weight loss in about 19 weeks, the new BMT programme for recruits with Body Mass Index (BMI) scores exceeding 27.0 will be 19 weeks. This BMT programme is designed to help obese recruits improve their physical fitness progressively while equipping them with basic soldiering skills and knowledge.
PES B2 BMT
Enlistees who were PES C1 previously underwent a 7-week BMT programme. The new 9-week PES B2 BMT programme will be conducted for recruits who are medically fit for deployment in selected combat and combat support vocations, such as signal operators, combat medics and naval system operators. These recruits will be given a new medical classification of PES B2, in place of the existing PES C1 classification. This is to ensure that the medical classification of our soldiers is consistent with their deployment. The new 9-week programme will include customised physical training, as well as basic combat training to prepare them for their combat and combat support roles.
PES C BMT
The 9-week BMT programme will be conducted for PES C recruits. This programme will include light physical training and vocational training to prepare them for combat service support vocations, such as service medic, and those related to logistics and administration.
PES E BMT
The 4-week BMT programme will be conducted for PES E recruits. This programme will focus on, vocational training as well as National Education, SAF core values, regimentation and discipline to prepare recruits for combat service support vocations.
counselling hotlines for you to call if need arises.
The counsellors are experienced professionals.
You can call them at the following counselling hotlines:
If you think you have been treated unfairly, you can bring up the case to your Commander. We will listen to your case. Do remember to bring along all facts and supporting documents.
We will do our best to address your concerns. Servicemen are to seek redress through proper channels. Together, we can address your issue more expeditiously.
The SAF seeks to promote the well-being of every
serviceman by providing
counselling support for those whom might be facing difficulties coping with their
personal or work/training related problems. Servicemen who are experiencing
difficulties can seek help through the avenues described below.
Commander interviews of all recruits are conducted within 48 hours of enlistment into full-time NS. Regular interviews are subsequently conducted on a monthly basis during the PTP/BMT phase. Special interviews are also granted upon request. Servicemen can highlight their difficulties during these interviews for assistance.
Orientation Officers identify, assist and counsel BMT recruits with adjustment
and/or other personal problems.
NS SAF Counselling Hotline is a 24-hour confidential telephone
counselling service provided by the SAF Counselling Centre. Manned by
trained counselling personnel, the SAF Counselling Hotline offers a crisis
and telephone counselling service to all servicemen. Callers may
choose to remain anonymous. Face to face counselling is also available
at the SAF Counselling Centre upon request/referral.
SAF Paracounselling Scheme complements other existing counselling
services and provides another avenue of help at the unit level for those who
need help to deal more effectively with their problems. Paracounsellors are
specially selected, trained by and work closely under the professional guidance
and support of counsellors from the SAF Counselling Centre. Paracounsellors
can be identified through their identification badges as well as through publicity
posters displayed in their units.
Being psychologically prepared is all about knowing what to expect and being prepared for it.
To be better prepared, you can participate in Total Defence activities and Open Houses organised by the SAF/SPF/SCDF.
Perhaps you should also talk to your family members and friends who have lived the NS experience. The more you discuss with others, the more comfortable and mentally prepared you’ll become.
Because NS life is different from civilian life before enlistment, there are many adjustments you need to make.
A good way to cope is to get support from your buddy and fellow recruits. They are going through the same tough training as you, so talking to one another will help relieve some tension.
In most evenings during your leisure time, you’ll also have some time to call your family or loved ones to talk. They can give you emotional support during NS.
You can have a one-on-one interview sessions with your officer to highlight any problems you may have. If you have a personal or family problem that need to be addressed, do let the officer know—he may be able to give you some advice or time off to settle your problems.
Life in NS revolves around structure, routine and discipline. This helps us stay united as a uniformed organisation as well as imparts the rigours necessary to protect our nation and citizens.
This does not mean there is just work and no play. In fact, after a few weeks in NS and you’ll find new friends and new reasons to smile!
As a soldier, one of the biggest adjustments you’ll have to make quickly is in regimentation and discipline.
Being in a uniformed organisation, you’ll have to obey orders from your superiors. Thus some of you may feel a sudden lack of freedom to do what you want and you may find yourself having difficulties accepting authority initially.
Regimentation and discipline build strong character and toughness, so that you’ll be tough enough to handle difficult combat, crime-fighting or rescue situations without giving up or breaking down.
When you first enlist into NS, you may have concerns of being in a new territory, with new faces and new things to do. But don’t let this get to you. Just remember the saying that “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”.
Following are some tips on what you can do to prepare yourself psychologically:
You can also speak to your friends or family members who have been through NS. Ask them to share their stories. The sharing will help you reduce some of your fears, uncertainties and doubts.
During NS you’ll be living with different people.
Because these people come from different backgrounds, they may not think like you do or react to situations like you would. Instead of trying to select your type of people, you should cherish the diversity. This is a chance for you to learn more about your fellow mates and their cultures.
You’ll find that you have many opportunities to absorb the different cultures—during training, eating, chatting or just seeing and listening. Take these opportunities and learn from people around you, you’ll have a much better appreciation of Singapore’s cultural diversity.
Story by Benita Teo
Serving in the military is certainly no mean feat. And
when the security of the nation is in one’s hands, mental strength
is as important as, if not more so than, physical
When the going gets tough, it is often helpful to talk it out with a trusted family or friend. But, even with the best of intentions, not everyone is able to fully comprehend the intricacies of military life.
To help the servicemen and women of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) cope with the challenges of their military roles, the counsellors of the SAF Counselling Centre (SCC) are always ready to lend a listening ear. In fact, the team at SCC provides professional counselling services not only to all members of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and SAF, but also to their families.
Learning to live the military life
Unlike civilian counselling centres, the SCC comes under military mandate, and its primary purpose is to provide mental health care to ensure that servicemen are able to carry out their duties efficiently.
Of the types of cases the SCC sees, Mrs Marlene Koh, Head of Education and Prevention Services, noted that the majority were Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) with adaptation issues. "Not everybody is used to dealing with authority. They all came in as students who only had to take care of their own studies."
She added: "The second, smaller group would be Regulars with career or family issues. A third group comprises families and soldiers affected by critical incidents that happened around them, for instance training incidents or a death in the family."
Servicemen in distress may seek help directly with the SCC through two channels: face-to-face sessions or the 24-hour SAF Counselling Hotline. On top of these, a Family Support Helpline is also available for the family members of soldiers deployed overseas who are in need of assistance.
Eyes and ears on the ground
To help junior and senior commanders to identify and assist men under their charge who are at risk of emotional distress, the SCC conducts regular workshops. In addition to basic counselling skills, stress management and suicide prevention are also taught at the workshops.
Ms Cheryl Chia, an SCC counsellor with 14 years of experience, explained that equipping commanders with these skills is essential because "they are the eyes and ears on the ground".
Another set of eyes that the SCC relies on to spot at-risk servicemen are the paracounsellors - Regulars who volunteer to help look after the mental welfare of servicemen at the unit level. To be appointed as paracounsellors, they have to go through a five-day course organised by the SCC that teaches basic counselling, suicide prevention and crisis management skills.
Military Expert (ME) 3-3 Sulinder Singh, a Logistics Warrant Officer, has been a paracounsellor in his unit, 201 Squadron (SQN), since 2010. And being a familiar face in the unit means that servicemen know what to expect when they confide in him - trustworthiness.
"I'm quite approachable, and they know that if they talk to me, it will be confidential."
Besides assuaging doubts over client confidentiality, the counsellors and paracounsellors also dispelled the stigma of seeking help.
"(For) those who are in a position of command, it may be a 'face' issue," said SCC counsellor Lawrence Yap. "But so far, I've not encountered any clients (Regulars) who claimed that attending counselling affected their careers."
ME3-3 Singh echoed his sentiments: "Is there a stigma attached to people in the unit who see paracounsellors? No, not at all. They are not mentally ill, we just need to help them find the right way to organise their thoughts."
The counsellor is in
Help for a distressed soldier often begins with a visit to the Medical Officer (MO) with complaints of symptoms of stress. Said Ms Chia: "Usually they will say that they are unable to sleep or eat. When the MOs probe deeper and realise that the problem goes beyond a medical issue, they will refer them to us."
At the SCC, the soldier will be assigned a counsellor. Through the sessions, counsellor and soldier will work together to identify the problems and set goals towards overcoming them. The counsellor will also impart skills such as stress or anger management techniques.
When facing mental turmoil, a soldier may despair and lose his sense of self. One approach a counsellor may take is to remind him of his capabilities.
"Counselling is about instilling a sense of hope," said Mr Yap, who specialises in substance and drug addiction counselling. "Everyone has it in them to overcome a difficult situation. We just need to help them see that they are not as helpless as they think they are, and that the situation is not as hopeless as they think it is."
SCC counsellors also work with psychiatrists and psychologists from the Psychological Care Centre (PCC) at the SAF Medical Corps' Military Medicine Institute to provide all-round care to the soldier. PCC psychiatrists prescribe medication for conditions like depression while psychologists run tests to ascertain if a behavioural problem is linked to a learning or intellectual disability.
Helping others help themselves
With the ever-evolving social landscape, counsellors must stay up-to-date on new behavioural problems or addictions, such as social media addiction.
Mrs Koh also pointed out that there are now more cases of servicemen suffering anxieties about not performing well or meeting expectations, and that many expected others to solve their problems.
Mr Yap agreed: "To change, clients have to take personal responsibility for their actions."
Nonetheless, the counsellors take comfort in the knowledge that they are changing lives for the better.
Mrs Koh remembered a recruit who had attempted suicide after his girlfriend of four years ended their relationship and started seeing a friend of his behind his back. Mrs Koh helped him acknowledge his feelings of hurt and disappointment, and taught him constructive ways of managing his anger.
The recruit started to improve his relationship with his family and make new friends in his unit. Nine months later, he was finally able to move on from the break-up.
Ms Chia also recounted a recent case: "I had a client who wanted to kill himself. But after working with his unit and the psychiatrist, just before his ORD (Operationally Ready Date) he said, 'You gave me hope. Even though life ahead will be challenging, at least I know now that there are people who care, and that there is more to life than thinking about hurting myself.'"
She added: "He even baked us cupcakes as a 'thank you'. It's the little things like these (that let me know I’ve made a difference)."
If you are in need of help, or know someone who needs help,
please call the following 24-hour hotline:
SAF Counselling Hotline
1800 278 0022
Families of service personnel deployed overseas who are in need of help can call the following 24-hour hotline:
Family Support Helpline
1800 278 0023
If you are interested in volunteering to be a paracounsellor, call the following number for more information:
Handling a mentally ill soldier is not easy. They require proper
attention and a suitable working environment for them to thrive,
said psychiatrists contacted by The New Paper. For this to happen,
the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has to take ownership of its
soldiers, Dr Ang Yong Guan said.
Dr Ang, who is in private practice, was the head of the Psychological Care Centre (PCC) at the Military Medicine Institute during his 23 years with the SAF from 1986 to 2003.
He said that of his 4,500 patients, there are fewer than 10 cases of full-time national servicemen (NSF).
"I forward each NSF's case to the SAF. I believe the organisation should be responsible for its own soldiers," he said.
But he thinks that the majority of these cases do not get picked up.
"(When I was at PCC) I always made it a point to monitor those soldiers who had severe mental illnesses. I would even call their private psychiatrists to find out more.
"Only if the organisation's leaders are committed to monitoring and helping these patients can they be given the right attention and help," Dr Ang said.
Consultant psychiatrist Ken Ung of Adam Road Medical Centre said that when a soldier is found to be mentally ill, steps should be taken to ensure he is placed in a suitable working environment.
Dr Ung, who sees about 30 to 50 cases of NSFs a month, said that superiors and colleagues should also understand that problematic soldiers may not always be trying to play the system.
"There are cases where the superiors are very understanding and sympathetic towards their condition and always willing to listen to them, and (the patients) thrive," he said.
But those who had difficult bosses could lead to a downward spiral of the soldier's condition, he said.
"I've had such patients who became more and more depressed, constantly had nightmares. Parents would complain about their behaviour and some even had suicidal thoughts," he said.
Superiors should give their subordinates the benefit of the doubt, said Dr Ung, adding that they should be proactive and take the time to find out if their soldiers are all right.
"The SAF is a microcosm of society. It's inevitable that you will get soldiers who are mentally ill. So you should learn how to handle and manage them."
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement on Tuesday that it will study the State Coroner's findings carefully to improve and tighten its procedures to ensure better compliance by Singapore Armed Forces units in dealing with soldiers with mental problems.
This article was published on April 12, 2014 in The New Paper.
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is a 2,000-bed acute tertiary psychiatric hospital situated on a 25-hectare campus at Buangkok Green Medical Park. Set amidst serene surroundings, IMH offers a comprehensive range of psychiatric, rehabilitative and counselling services for children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
IMH’s tradition of care started in 1928. We were the first mental hospital in Singapore, starting with some 1,000 patients. Since then, many advances have been made in treatment, training, and research. Our treatment integrates evidence-based therapies, supported by the departments of clinical psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, and medical social work, to provide holistic care for our patients. IMH is equipped with modern facilities, with 50 wards for inpatients and seven Specialist Outpatient Clinics.
IMH was the first mental health institution in Asia to receive the Joint Commission International Accreditation in 2005, a highly coveted international accreditation for healthcare organisations.
Over the years, IMH has gained a reputation for quality research. In 2008, the Ministry of Health, Singapore, entrusted IMH with a S$25 million research grant to implement translational and clinical research into the causes of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.
IMH also plays a key role in training the next generation of mental health professionals in Singapore. We train psychiatrists and mental health professionals through the NHG-AHPL Residency Programme for psychiatry and through collaborations with the local tertiary institutions.
Buangkok Green Medical Park
10 Buangkok View
If you are facing a mental health crisis, please call our Crisis Helpline at 6389 2222 or seek medical help at our 24-hour Emergency Services located in our hospital.
Those who are liable to serve national service but refuse are charged under the Enlistment Act. If convicted, they face three years' imprisonment and a fine of S$10,000.
Each year, a small number of people are convicted for their failure to enlist or refusal to be conscripted. Most of them were Jehovah's Witnesses, who are usually court-martialled and sentenced to three years' imprisonment, but they are usually held in a low-security detention facility and separated from other conscription offenders. The government does not consider conscientious objection to be a legal reason for refusal to serve NS. Since 1972, the publications of Jehovah's Witnesses have been outlawed in Singapore. This is commonly misinterpreted to mean that Jehovah's Witnesses themselves are outlawed in Singapore.
National-service-liable males who migrated from Singapore before
age 11 and have not enjoyed significant socio-economic benefits of
citizenship (e.g., applied for a Singapore identity card or studied
in Singapore beyond the age of 11) are allowed to renounce their
Singapore citizenship, but not before they turn 21.
Until then, they are required to register for national service with Central Manpower Base and apply for a deferment.
After turning 21, they are then eligible to renounce their Singapore citizenship.
Generally, those who left Singapore after the age of 11 will be deemed to have enjoyed the socio-economic benefits of Singapore. They will not be allowed to renounce their Singapore citizenship without fulfilling NS obligations.
Singapore does not recognise dual citizenship. If your son decides to retain his Singapore Citizenship upon reaching 21 years of age, he is required to renounce his foreign citizenship.
2LT Sherman Pay, ROS Commander with 128 Squadron, RSAF
It was to be a decision many Singaporean boys who have grown up overseas, would have to make – whether to return home to Singapore and serve National Service (NS). Not necessarily an easy decision for any 19-year-old Singaporean; not when you’ve lived the last 11 years of your life overseas.
Home Away from Home
For Sherman Pay, home had been in the Chinese city of Xiamen in Fujian province where he lived with his family. They would return twice a year to visit their relatives, often during Chinese New Year and the summer holidays. Save for his relatives, Sherman had hardly any friends in Singapore. Not surprising, given that he had spent most of his growing up years away from Singapore.
Sherman is ‘focused and ready’!
His parents had made known their preference for the family to remain as Singaporeans. He recalled his mother signing him up for tours that took him around Singapore’s landmarks during his visits back as a child.
While serving NS, Sherman lives with his uncle. However, being away from his immediate family does take its toll: “Sometimes I really miss them. I have learned to appreciate them more, especially when I am feeling lonely. There would be times when I feel really down. But for me, my mom had brought me up to be independent and that really helped”.
‘What-Ifs’ and ‘How-Woulds’
Prior to Sherman’s decision to return home to serve NS, his parents had concerns. Their uneasiness rubbed off on Sherman as well: “My mom was worried that I might get bad influence as there were people from all walks of life serving NS. She was also afraid that I couldn’t blend in and it would be hard for me to make friends. I was worried that I would be quite alone as I didn’t have friends (in Singapore) to begin with. I didn’t know how physical it (NS training) would get as I didn’t have my physical education here, so I didn’t know how (physically) fit I was compared to Singaporeans here. I didn’t know if I could keep up with the physical standards. My mum was worried about cultural differences because I don’t interact with Singaporeans that often. She was also worried I may not adapt to it.”
As for his father, he was worried as to whether Sherman was both physically and mentally strong enough to endure the training and demands of a soldier and if he might be bullied by his platoon sergeants. “I think it was because he believed Army trainings mean harsh treatments by the sergeants, but in reality, the trainings are carried out professionally with safety as a priority,” Sherman says with a grin. It helped that Sherman had Singaporean friends he’d grown up with in Xiamen who’d returned ahead of him to serve NS and they were able to cope well in NS.
Flying High In Many Ways
Sherman has been doing well in NS since his enlistment two years ago. The well-respected officer with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is addressed by his men and superiors in the 128 Squadron as ‘2LT Sherman Pay’. He makes no qualms about aspiring to be an officer prior to his enlistment. “I have a few cousins who went to OCS (Officer Cadet School), so they told me, ‘If you can, try to be an officer as the experience would be more enriching.’ Therefore that was my goal during BMT; I was very motivated.” Despite the initial anxieties, Sherman felt that serving NS has been a good and positive experience for him and it has made him mature from a boy to a man.
It wasn’t just a positive attitude and hearing about success stories that got Sherman geared up for life in military fatigues. He credits his superiors who were very supportive and maintained an open communication channel with him during his Basic Military Training (BMT): “My supervisors did a good job. My OC (Officer Commanding) in BMT (Basic Military Training), he tried to engage us overseas Singaporeans, on enlistment day and told us that if we had any problems, if we couldn’t blend in, to look for him and he would help us. When we’re down, he’ll always motivate us. Although your family is not around, but during the time in NS, you have your so-called ‘brothers’, your bunkmates (and) they’ll also motivate you.” Yes, training will get tough, but the recruits will have to support each other to spur on and pull through together.
Setting up the ROS
These days, Sherman literally has a bird’s eye view on things through the videos by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which would be fed back to the Receive-Only Station (ROS) that he operates with his team. The video feed, when relayed to the ground commanders, provides better battlefield situational awareness and enhances mission effectiveness.
Appraisal to be Well-Adapted
Sherman’s immediate supervisor Major (MAJ) Sam Ong, the OC in charge of ROS for 128 Squadron, says that Sherman has adapted very well in the Squadron. He believes Sherman’s positive experience in BMT and how those who had returned from overseas to serve NS were actively engaged by their superiors, set the foundation for a smoother transition for the recruits. “Those things are very important because the initial phase is when these overseas Singaporeans will need to adjust to the change in environment and that’s when engagement must come to the forefront. When Sherman came to the unit, I didn’t feel that he had any problems adjusting to the operational requirements of 128 Squadron. That foundation served him well and enabled him to adapt to the operational tempo without any difficulties” says MAJ Ong.
Sherman with Major Ong
MAJ Ong regards Sherman as “a very outstanding NSF who’s not just able to lead when he’s required to, but he’s also a very capable team player. Sherman’s positive attitude and his willingness to take on challenges and overcome them will serve him well in the future”.
Does MAJ Ong feel that Singaporean youths who return from overseas to serve NS are disadvantaged in some way? He doesn’t believe so as information is readily available in this age of connectivity and ease of access to the internet, where “you’re able to sift out information pertaining to NS. It’s this sense of wanting to find out what’s ahead that makes the difference. Perhaps years ago when information was limited, that would have made it more difficult for overseas Singaporeans to find out more about NS”.
Seeing Significance in NS
The most memorable event for Sherman was when he was commissioned as an officer. “My parents came back to attend my commissioning parade and they were very proud of me. After being commissioned as an officer, you will take up a leadership role. So, you’ll need to exercise a lot of your leadership skills. When you have to inspire people to be more capable beyond their normal abilities, make them go an extra mile, that’s when it feels very rewarding,” he says, beaming with a sense of accomplishment.
How this contrasts to his initial scepticism of how serving NS would help in the defence of a small nation like Singapore. That faded after Sherman underwent the National Education programmes conducted by his supervisors. It then dawned on him the crucial role each serviceman, himself included, played in national security and the defence of Singapore. MAJ Ong believes that the key to creating a positive NSF experience is to make sure the NSFs understand and internalise their role in national defence”.
But it is easy to think that two years serving NS is two years too long. In Sherman’s perspective, “If you think of your career, your studies, it’s a postponement of two years. So before I enlisted, I was also thinking, ‘You waste two years of your life. People already get their degrees and you’re still studying. People are already working’. But after I enlisted, I realised I learnt a lot during NS. I learnt about leadership, having a positive mindset, how to overcome hardship – these kinds of things. The experience was enriching in many ways, and in the end I felt I’ve become more mature and better equipped as a person. My two years in NS wasn’t wasted”.
When we hear of National Service (NS), it is often assumed that it relates to the time spent with the army or the SAF, but that’s not always the case. “Growing up, my father always talked about the SAF and his time there, so I always thought that I would be joining the SAF. So when I received my enlistment letter and found out that I was to join the SCDF, I was definitely surprised!” Such was SGT (Sergeant) Raphael Tan’s initial response when the enlistment letter indicated that he was to join the Singapore Civil Defence Force for two years of NS. In this second issue of ‘NS through the Lens of an Overseas Singaporean’, we met up with Raphael Tan, a Singaporean who lived abroad and came back home to serve NS in the SCDF.
Since his birth, Raphael has had to adapt to both Western and Asian cultures due to his parents’ commitments in missionary work and overseas businesses. “I was born in Cardiff, Wales and spent a couple of years growing up in the UK and in Sweden before coming back to Singapore for pre-school. Following that, we left for Bangkok, Thailand in which I spent 13 years there.”
When it was time to return for his NS stint and not knowing what to expect, a nervous Raphael went on to find out as much as he could about the Singapore Civil Defence Force. “Despite being a little worried, when I found out that they train fire-fighters, I was actually quite excited about it,” revealed the young sergeant. For those unfamiliar with the SCDF, this uniformed organisation belongs to the Ministry of Home Affairs and plays a critical role in Singapore by providing fire-fighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services. They also oversee the implementation of fire safety and civil defence shelter matters.
When enlistment day arrived, a sense of uncertainty could be felt among the new recruits, “I was quite nervous but I wasn’t the only one because on the first day, you see many other nervous boys as well.” He was quick to reassure though, saying, “The instructors were quite kind and understanding as they were once in our shoes as well, so it wasn’t too bad actually.”
What helped Raphael was that his overseas experience allowed him the opportunity to meet different people from diverse backgrounds. This made interacting with others in the SCDF much easier for him, especially when certain situations force you out of your comfort zone. “We had a training stint at Outward Bound in Sabah,” recalls Raphael, “and did hiking treks into dense jungles. A lot of us were placed out of our comfort zones and because of that, you could really see what people were really like. It was a real eye-opening experience where we learnt a lot about ourselves and of each other.”
Following his basic training phase, Raphael is now a Fire and Rescue Specialist trainer. “I’m in the fire-fighting branch, so I instruct trainees on how to fight different kinds of fire.” Fires like flashovers and backdrafts are just some of the many thermal accidents that fire-fighters encounter and have to deal with. One of the ways to do that efficiently is to ensure that they are well-versed in their drills, in which our trainer/resident expert and his team will give you a sneak preview of in our video.
Having almost completed his two-year NS stint, Raphael now looks forward to becoming a Physical Therapist in the field of Sports Sciences and will take the skills that he has learnt from the SCDF with him wherever he goes. He reflects, “There are many things that I’ve gained from the SCDF and a lot of what I’ve learnt can be used in most emergency situations in our daily lives. I’ll bring along all these knowledge with me and touch wood, if I need to draw upon them one day, at least I’ll be mentally well-equipped.”
While there are some who might still feel that NS is a hindrance, both to their career and study plans, to Raphael, NS is an opportunity to continue learning new life skills in an environment that is unlike any other. “You’re going to go through a lot of new experiences so take it all in and you’ll learn a lot of new things. Embrace it because a lot of what you will experience here, you won’t get a chance to do so outside of NS. Once you leave, you might just miss the time you’ve spent here.”
Video by Evon Kua and Ian Tan.
The first part of 'NS through the Lens of an Overseas Singaporean' can be found here and it features 2LT Sherman Pay, a ROS Commander with the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
woa lau, can you summarize your advice, please.
Originally posted by sgdiehard:
woa lau, can you summarize your advice, please.
aiyah, this eac guy, always like to edit post to suit his agenda lah.
he copy-n-paste all day
Just pon ns n run road to other country la
Originally posted by Zee09:
I've already thought of skipping NS, but why would i risk my freedom for it . I don't intend to ever come back to SG , maybe when i'm like 50 and i want to bring my kids here .
huhhh....come back 30 years from now, for what?
2 years from now, those who had gone NS same time as you should had done their obligation and would be free to go anywhere they like and come back to Singapore. for 2 years of NS you have to worry what would happen in 30 years....hehehe...you have to run road sooner or later, no need to wait for 30 years...good luck.
Give up ur citizenship lo!
Think carefully before you act again. Circumstances may change in the future and you might regret running off or not running off. Read up more first and decide.
Actually overseas is much better. More choices for work and studies..