Schizophrenic NSman slapped with 14 extras before suicide jump

From ‘Coroner rules out foul play in NSF’s death’, 12 April 2014, article in CNA

A Coroner’s report has ruled out foul play in the death of a 22-year-old man who was serving national service last year. Full-time national serviceman (NSF) Pte Ganesh Pillay – who has schizophrenia – was found dead at the foot of his condominium in Sengkang last July.

His father has raised concerns over how the army deals with soldiers with mental conditions. The Coroner’s Court heard that Pte Ganesh’s supervisor did not know the full extent – and effects – of schizophrenia.

…Pte Ganesh was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 18. But his father said his son’s condition had stabilised with medication. He said: “When the army told him that he cannot be exempted, but he will be downgraded to PES E, I was rest assured that the army will take care of him. I trusted the army.

“In fact, I trusted that much to the very last day. I still have that trust, until the time he died, then I start to figure out what went wrong.” On the day Pte Ganesh died, he was unwell and had returned home from camp.

His supervisor — Captain Jessie Goh — had earlier issued Pte Ganesh with 14 extra duties as punishment for, among other things, unsatisfactory work and improper bearing. Mr Reganathan said Captain Goh seemed oblivious to his son’s condition.

In a similar suicide case in 1979, Cpl Tan Cheng Eyong leapt to his death 2 days after consultation with a camp psychiatrist. He had obsessive-compulsive neurosis and ‘reactive depression’, a disorder reportedly triggered by his O Level exams.  A 1987 report on the incidence of mental illness among NSmen revealed that between 400 and 500 required psychiatric help each year, of which 10 to 15% suffered from schizophrenia, 30-35% with ‘stress related conditions’ and the rest from ‘depression, anxiety, HOMOSEXUALITY and various other NEUROSES’.   What was less reported in the 80′s was the phenomenon known as ‘possession-trance’, (40 cases referred to Woodbridge from 1979 to 1981) where the authors of a study published in 1986 discussed the effect of a stressful life event like NS on this ‘hysterical dissociation’. I would expect the rates of mental illness to be higher today, though it’s unlikely that there are any official statistics on this matter. Most boys escape NS unscathed of course, but some, like Ganesh, may have flown way over the cuckoo’s nest.

Ex military psychiatrist and colonel Ang Yong Guan identified schizophrenia as the MOST COMMON psychotic illness among NSmen, with only a minority of those diagnosed able to qualify to work in non-combat positions provided their disease was under control. 19 year old Julius Chan, today a peer specialist dealing with mental patients, wanted to pursue priesthood and avoid NS. He ‘prayed a lot, asking God to take away this time’ for him, went too far, suffered a schizoid breakdown and was eventually exempted from conscription. The most well known case of an NSman going berserk is Dave Teo, who went AWOL with a SAR21 rifle and ammo after his girlfriend broke up with him and eventually jailed for 9 years. He was suffering from behavioral problems including suicidal thoughts and depression, and also ‘began to HEAR VOICES of people who were not there’, aural hallucinations being one of the signs of schizophrenia. Thankfully, no one was massacred in Orchard Road where Dave was caught.

Then there are the other neurological diseases. Jonathan Lim Chong Ping, who drowned in the Singapore River over Christmas in 2013, had sought treatment for ‘adjustment disorder’ while serving NS.  Harmoko Julianus, 22, was suffering a relapse of bipolar disorder when he made a bomb hoax at the British embassy and only exempted from NS after the incident. Maybe the best management of mental disorders in young men is not helplines or risperidone, but a PES F status, whereby you’re medically unfit for any kind of service altogether.

Andy Ho of ST believes that NS, which takes the schizophrenic away from his family, stigmatises and punishes him for symptoms of his illness, should be exempted altogether (Exempt these young men from NS, 13 April 2014, Sunday Times). In any case, is clerical work so important that we need to desperately fill these vocations with boys with mental illness if we have to? What’s the value of fulfilling NS obligations for the sake of it if they don’t do anything productive or in Ganesh’s case, make things worse?

It is not clear when exactly an 18 year old Ganesh became schizophrenic, but only a study examining the onset of schizophrenia among Singaporean men will provide some insight as to whether the regimental rigours of NS has anything to do with aggravating the disease, adjusting for other factors such as family history. Any researcher, however, would be MAD to even propose such a hypothesis for a complex disorder, one that happens to manifest around the same time as NS enlistment. Also, we don’t have a base of non-enlisted men to compare to since NS is mandatory. A 1968 study by Steinberg and Durrell, however, showed a striking increase in admissions for schizophrenia among men joining the US Army, especially within the first month. Those include men who WILLINGLY signed up for war.

What’s unacceptable here is that for such a prevalent mental disorder among NSmen, someone of the rank of Captain would have totally no clue about what schizophrenia means. It doesn’t help that society also often downplays the term ‘schizophrenic’ as reference to anything that’s ‘unpredictable’ or mixes it up with ‘multiple/split personality’. Singapore’s Urbanism has been described as ‘schizophrenic’, and artist David Chan calls his exhibition about humans with animal heads ‘Hybrid Society: Schizophrenia‘.  It has also been misused to describe spouses, friends or bosses who are ‘extremely temperamental’. To an uninformed layperson like Jessie Goh, a ‘schizo’ attack may not be any more severe than someone throwing a really bad tantrum.

One of the extras dished out to Ganesh was for ‘failure to sign a logbook’. To lash out 14 extras on a human being, schizophrenic or not, is also a sign of mental disturbance, that of a sadistic psychopath. And there are probably more of these in the military than people hearing voices and thinking of killing themselves. The commando head dunker, the dog abuser, or the encik who insults your mother. Maybe all these nuts should get their heads checked as well.

About these ads

DJ Chris Ho calling for ‘fckn’ Singaporeans to be killed

From ‘Radio DJ apologises for Facebook post’, 5 April 2014, article by Walter Sim, ST

A MEDIACORP Lush 99.5FM DJ apologised yesterday for a controversial Facebook post in which he called for Singaporeans to be killed. Mr Chris Ho commented on an army recruitment advertisement on the social media platform on Thursday.

The campaign, launched last December, bears the slogan: “How far would you go to protect our home?” The Singaporean wrote in response: “How far…? Let’s see… I’m with you foreigners! Kill the **** Singaporeans but not my friends, can?”

His comment caused fury among netizens and was reposted on citizen journalism portal Stomp. Contributor Tee Seng said: “What kind of joke is this? If he hates Singaporeans so much, why is he still here? I used to be a fan of his but he has gone too far.”

Mr Ho told The Straits Times yesterday he was surprised by the response. “It is such a far-fetched statement that I’m shocked that Singaporeans are taking it so seriously,” he said, adding that the “satirical” message was meant to mock the campaign slogan. “Hello, Singaporeans, you mean you need people to give you a wake-up call to defend the country?” he asked.

“Why should the question be put forth as such? Singaporeans who love the country would know what to do.” He said he wanted to allude to the rising levels of anti-foreigner sentiment here. The ex-Straits Times rock columnist added: “I think Singaporeans are looking for a new Anton Casey… I’m not advocating genocide.”

How far? Too far for some, apparently

How far? Gone too far for some, apparently

It took me a while to ‘get’ the humour behind Chris Ho’s jibe at the SAF ad, and thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks he’s ‘too cheem’ for me. It’s also hard to tell when he’s sarcastic or furious when he and New Nation bickered online over the post where the latter made fun of Chris ‘falling’ for a satire piece about ‘Man dying in a protest against foreigners‘ (which wasn’t even very funny to begin with). I don’t know what experts on wit think of either example of this ‘satire’, but in my book, satire should have universal appeal, is spontaneous, and actually funny to someone other than the creator. Or maybe it’s just me.

As for the ad, I don’t see anything wrong with asking someone ‘how far would you go’ to defend the nation, even if any response other than ‘I’ll fight to the death’ will be deemed unacceptable. It’s like asking ‘Will you die for Singapore?’, or ‘How much would you give to society?’, a pedantic rhetorical device to remind you of your duty, where an actual answer isn’t expected because we don’t want to hear the ugly truth.  But there’s a double meaning here too if you interpret ‘how far’ in terms of literal DISTANCE, which is more likely to be the case here, looking at the mountains in the background. It sounds sensible at first, referring to overseas stints from Brunei to Afghanistan to get you all geared up for military operations, but if you think about it, the further away you are, the SLOWER you are in coming back in the event of a real ATTACK back home. Either way, the slogan is bound to get criticised, and Chris, or X’Ho, is no stranger when it comes to controversy or criticising his home country.

Dj-ing for Lush aside, Chris is a local music icon who in the early 80′s performed as frontman for Zircon Lounge and is today revered as the counter-cultural antithesis to more ‘wholesome’ ambassadors like Dick Lee.  He also dabbles in ‘spoken word’ album territory, and from his 1999 album ‘X’ with an X’ came a track called ‘Singapore is Not My Country‘, his take on Alfian Bin Saat’s ‘ode’ to the nation (the full transcript here). In the 2000′s, Zircon Gov.Pawn Starz was formed. The album ‘Follywood’ features the track ‘Mouthless Fish‘ about people ‘barely breathing to make ends meet’, with BigO magazine rating it as the ‘most fucking punk rock album we have ever’. Check out this ‘punk rock’ album cover!

Majulah SingaPawnStarz

The ‘shock jock’ has even been filmed getting his PENIS tattooed. In THAI. A Today review of 2008′s Baphomet Sacrum describes him as ‘Singapore’s unfavourite son’.  Anyone unfamiliar with ‘dark wave’ or goth would think track titles such as ‘Satan’s Blood’ and ‘Her Soul’s Demise’ off the Lucifugous collaboration album were devotional hymns of the occult.  ‘No Ordinary Country’ has the refrain ‘Majulah Fearless Supremacy’ and its album cover has lightning logos on it. There’s even a song about the Blogfather himself called ‘Excuse Me Mr Brown’, where Chris calls Brown the ‘next Talking Cock big time’. ‘Talking cock’ being, well, the lingua franca of social media most of the time anyway.

So the first question that came to mind was: What did this multi-hyphenate (author, singer, DJ, film director) celebrity, being Singaporean and all, actually DO IN NS? According to a 2006 Interview with Today, he said he ‘has done everything he could think of to get into the Singapore Armed Forces MUSIC AND DRAMA Company’, and eventually spent 2 years as an actor after BMT. Like, who wouldn’t right? How far then would you go, Chris Ho, to protect this country that you love-hate so much? A question that wasn’t addressed in his FB apology, or maybe it was hidden somewhere so deep and lost in ‘satire’ that I couldn’t detect it with my radar for low-brow fart jokes and all.

There was a time when the man actually made seriously good pop music, without the Singapore-bashing and ‘satire’ getting in the way. Unlike his current ‘uneasy listening’ work, ‘Deeper’ (1992) is heartfelt and uncharacteristically melodious, and no surprise that this came before the ‘Punk Monk Hunk’ days, where spiritual awakenings mean getting your genitals pricked and scarred in the name of art. Pubic hair snipping? Amateur!

Which suggests that Chris is capable for much more than just ranting against the Government or NS, or participating in the Berlin Porn Festival. It would be nice to see that good ol’ innocent side of him once more.

Purple light army song promotes sexual violence against women

From AWARE Facebook page, 15 Nov 2013 and ‘Offensive verse of army song banned’, 16 Nov 2013, article by Jermyn Chow, ST

(AWARE) Ever wonder if speaking up about sexism really creates change? Here’s one case where it has! Earlier this year, AWARE learned of “Purple Light”, a marching song sung by many NSmen, which included the lines:

“Booking out, see my girlfriend
Saw her with another man
Kill the man, rape my girlfriend
With my rifle and my buddy and me.”

We were troubled that NSmen were bonding over misogynist lyrics about committing sexual violence against women. So we raised our concerns with MINDEF and SAF.

And now we have excellent news: MINDEF and SAF have confirmed that they took steps to investigate. They will “immediately halt” the singing of these lyrics, which they describe as “contrary to the values of [their] organisation”.

It’s really encouraging that MINDEF and SAF are prepared to listen to feedback, recognise this as an issue and take action on it. Thumbs up!

(ST)…Aware’s executive director Corinna Lim said in a statement yesterday that the group was alerted to the offensive lyrics by seven national servicemen during a workshop in July that was held as part of Aware’s ongoing campaign to stop violence against women.

Ms Lim said: “These misogynistic lyrics tolerate and normalise the violent sexual abuse of women, condoning gang- rape as a justified punishment for infidelity.”

She added: “Such lyrics may encourage young men at impressionable ages to objectify women, and contribute to an environment where violence against women is trivialised.”

If I had sung such a lyric during road marches or battalion runs I would have remembered it till now, but I don’t. I would also never think of participating in AWARE workshops to protest about army songs like these 7 NSmen did. In another version of the song, ‘rape’ is replaced by ‘beat’, which doesn’t make it any better by AWARE’s standards. Purple Light has devolved over the years, from a rousing ode to loyalty and patriotism to the extent of ‘burying yourself with your rifle and buddy when you die’, to one containing a tasteless, but more importantly, unfunny verse re-enacting some angry boy’s sick fantasy.

This is how the ‘clean’ version sounds like, with the violence and misogyny replaced by ‘broken heart, back to army’, where the recruit seeks solace in the Purple Light trinity that is ‘my rifle and my buddy and me’. No sir, nothing remotely kinky about that at all.

From the AWARE post, it seems that the Legion just wants SAF to stop singing those specific lyrics, but makes no mention of calling for the song’s BAN altogether, as interpreted by TRS. Maybe it’s time we standardise the song to the wimpy ‘broken heart’ version, but I doubt that anyone who continues to belt out the X-rated Purple Light would get any form of actual punishment beyond verbal abuse such as ‘KNNBCCB’ (next on the list of AWARE’s banned army words, perhaps?)

AWARE may nitpick on marketing bloopers like green eyeshadow for women and trophy boyfriend advertisements, but intruding into camp affairs like marching songs, swear-words or CB leaves is like a group of Girl Guides trying to infiltrate a Boys Only tree-house and telling them not to use ‘boobies’ as a secret password. We often use the phrase ‘fuck spider’ in camp but you don’t see the SPCA banging on our doors demanding to stop this gross bestiality. MOM are not taking NSmen to task for making their maids carry backpacks for them, and the Nature Society is not at all concerned about us messing with taxonomy when we name plants after female genitalia. For decades, NS has taken obscene liberties with sex equality, yet we haven’t become a nation of rapists and wife-beaters, as AWARE is terrified of us turning into after singing Purple Light while marching.

But it’s not just army songs that are too ‘rapey’ for their own good. What does AWARE think about Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines then, a massively popular song that’s not confined to army grounds but blasted out there on the airwaves for little children to hear. Oh the humanity!

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you

Or God forbid, Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby’s Got Back.

That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung, wanna pull out your tough
‘Cause you notice that butt was stuffed

Why, we should also abolish the classic analogy, or rather ‘objectification’, of rifles as soldiers’ ‘wives’, since we do a lot of weapon ‘stripping’, chain them up in an armory once we’re done with them, ‘muzzle’ them and rest our cheeks against their butts. The frequent use of ‘Guniang’ as a taunt is also degrading to the women, depicting them as the ‘weaker’ sex. Or ban sexy SAF Drama and Dance performers after a victorious field exercise and have them replaced by Village People tribute bands instead, singing ‘Macho Macho Man’, with our rifles and our buddies and… well, you get my drift.

That is where, I wanna be

Ironically, there’s a Purple Light Walk held in the US which aims to raise awareness of domestic violence. Also, a Purple Light movie in the works, which I hope has none of that sexist, misogynistic content that made Ah Boys to Men such a disgrace to the SAF. One Ah Boy actor, Ridhwan Azman, made the news after slapping his girlfriend. Not sure if the ‘Purple Light’ verse was playing in his head then, like a Satanic rock song coaxing one into sacrificing a virgin at the altar. In fact, AWARE nominated Ah Boys to Men for the prestigious Alamak award for its unabashed sexist violence (with a 48% vote), instead of calling for its rating to be revised to R-21 or something. We should really have an award for AWARE’s complaints, called the ‘AWARE Insistently Yakking On Hombres’ award, or ‘AIYOH’ for short.

Maybe AWARE  should propose its own ‘You Go Girl!’ remix of  Purple Light, which would probably contain lyrics like:

Purple line, take to Sengkang
Lao Tiko, staring at me
Take my heels, stab his birdie
With my BFF and my Prada and MEEEE

Went shopping, got GSS
Saw my man, with another girl

Take my scissors, cut off his testes
With my BFF and my Prada and MEEEE

And we guys would just laugh it off, or cringe nervously, instead of complaining about graphic genital mutilation.

Postscript: Mindef later clarified that the song hasn’t been outright banned, but confirmed that the original version was indeed the ‘broken heart’ one. Despite the army having us ‘training to be soldier’ and ‘fight for our land’, there’s nothing a killing machine can do to confront his cheater girlfriend and her new guy except confide in his buddy and hug his rifle sobbing to sleep. I’d suggest removing the stanza altogether.

Joseph Schooling deferring NS for 2 years

From ‘Singapore top swimmer Joseph Schooling granted National Service deferment’, 21 Oct 2013, article by May Chen, ST

The government has granted swimmer Joseph Schooling’s request to defer his National Service obligation, enabling the 18-year-old to focus on training until after the 2016 Olympics. He is due for enlistment in 2014 but has been granted deferment until 31 August 2016.

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament on Monday that the ministry had received a request from the swimmer’s parents earlier this year. He said: “The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth supported the appeal for deferment as they assessed that in his previous achievements in international competitions, Mr Schooling had potential to do well in the next Olympics.”

“As this appeal satisfies all the conditions for deferment of exceptional sportsmen, the Armed Forces council has decided to grant deferment for Mr Schooling for full-time NS till 31 August 2016 in order for him to train and do well in 2016 Olympic Games. He will be enlisted for full-time NS once his deferment ends.”

Schooling, is based in the United States where he is ranked among the top swimmers in his age group. He was the youngest competitor to qualify for the semi-finals of the 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley at the world championships in Barcelona this year.

In 2011, our Defence Minister announced that the list of disruptees from NS would be publicly available on the MINDEF website, however currently it only covers boys deferring for medical studies or those on PSC scholarships, without any mention of local sportsmen who took extended time off to train for prestigious competitions. If you’re an Olympic medal hopeful, you stand a good chance of deferment. In 2007, 2 national sailors and ‘elite’ athletes were granted disruption to train for the 2008 Games.  Joseph may consider himself fortunate to be be spared the hassle of NS for an entire 2 years, but others who were deemed less ‘exceptional’ in their talents and pursuits were not so lucky.

In 2010, Matthew Goh was denied deferment for 3 months to represent Singapore in the Asian Junior Championships and WORLD Junior Championships. His event? Long Jump. In the 2009 SEA games he shattered the national record of 7.62 metres, but ended up sixth overall. This year, he came in first in the less renown Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic championships, but recorded a significant drop in form from his SEA games feat at 7.03 m. He hopes to represent Singapore again in 2013-2015, but one can only wonder where he would be today if he was just given that sliver of chance to compete 3 years back. The problem of filtering out sportsmen based on their current achievements and Olympics-worthiness is that you risk depriving them a chance to achieve the desired potential. I can only hope Matthew Goh proves that assumption wrong. If all else fails there’s always foreign talent.

One may argue that MINDEF’s definition of exceptional merit means a history of medal wins and the potential to do well in the mother of all sporting events, and whether it’s sailing a boat, swimming or athletics, any sport that requires remarkable feats of endurance, strength and skill should be deserving of one’s complete devotion in order to enhance Singapore’s presence on the global stage. Apparently, that category includes staring at a computer screen and clicking furiously on a mouse.

In 2005, Stanley Aw, Counterstrike enthusiast had his NS deferred by 2 months to participate in the WORLD CYBER GAMES. I’m no sporting or gaming fan, but I’m certain long jump is an Olympic event and Counterstrike isn’t and NEVER will be. How is it that a record holder is denied deferment but not a videogame addict? Or maybe MINDEF thought Counterstrike would be relevant to NS training anyway and could utilise Aw’s elite soldier skills in field combat. Ex Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean had no explanation for it either. Lord knows what Stanley is up to now and I’ve no information on how well he did for that competition. Maybe he’s stationed somewhere in Afghanistan as Special Forces as we speak. If I knew that MINDEF was flexible towards non-traditional sports, I would have tried competitive Scrabble, Rubik Cube, or even ballroom dancing in my youth. Why waste all that sweat, aches and pains on something trivial like jumping off a white line?

Game on, soldier

NS as a 2 year character enrichment programme

From various letters, 15 Oct 2013, ST Forum

(Paul Sim Ruiqi): I READ the results of the Institute of Policy Studies survey on public perceptions of national service with much caution (“Poll reveals changing perceptions of NS”; last Wednesday) – in particular, the finding that more people viewed NS as a way to instil discipline and values among the young than as a pillar of national defence.

NS should not be seen as a two-year enrichment or character-development programme as much as it is an individual’s contribution to the nation. There is an undue emphasis on the transformation of boys into men, as portrayed by recent movies and television series.

(Gerard Ong):…We must never forget that we train our national servicemen to fight to win – nothing less.

…When I was called up for NS, many of those in my cohort and I were convinced that we were going to be trained to be fighting soldiers. We understood that the discipline and values that came with our training were incidental and part and parcel of military life. We wanted to be out in the field, learning how to handle our weapons, field craft, operational procedures, shooting and unarmed combat.

We came in wanting to be fighters, not disciplined team players, which we had already learnt how to be by playing team sports or joining school uniformed groups. The survey findings should be examined closely by our leaders and Ministry of Defence, as the public’s perception of NS as primarily an instiller of discipline and values is rather disturbing.

There was a scene in the Ah Boys to Men 2 movie where the main cast applied their military skills to enact revenge on a couple by bombing their car with shit. A comedy played for laughs, some viewers thought Jack Neo’s movie trivialised NS, calling it sexist, misogynist and bad for SAF overall. By the end of the movie, we never know if the boys are capable of killing the enemy, but are constantly bombarded with the message that NS is great for life-skills, family bonding and ‘camaraderie’. There is, however, no evidence that men emerge from NS as better friends, husbands, employees or leaders, and the social benefit of NS, grossly exaggerated in pop culture, has turned from a by-product of regimentation and suffering to a convenient justification for having NS in the first place.

The army itself is guilty of plugging the ‘character building’ angle. Being in uniform would supposedly make you more attractive to women. It also makes you think of your father as an embattled hero and role model. Unlike the ads for the Air Force which emphasise protection of the motherland, the Army insists on humanising NS because the original bloody intent of conscription i.e killing people is a bitter pill to swallow. Especially if you’re a worried parent who’ve seen one too many boys die for nothing.

The researcher who led the poll, Dr Leong Chang Hoong, revealed to the media that only 1 in 10 women would serve NS, and then followed up to say ‘even simple gestures from the female population, such as ORGANISING LUNCH for men training in the field, would make a “significant psychological impact”. Is it any wonder Singaporean women would decline the offer to don the uniform and hang out with the boys, only to be summoned to make Ayam brand tuna sandwiches or cook instant noodles in mess tins for them? I doubt anyone would argue that NS for girls would make them better wives or mothers without receiving a nomination for AWARE’s Alamak Awards. Why stop at green eyeshadow? How about distributing a recipe booklet called ‘Outfield BBQ for Heroic Boys in Green’ or something.

I’m not sure if the survey addressed the ‘fighting soldier’ argument as to how many of our men are actually battle-ready and willing to die for the country, that includes the writers above who support the ‘pillar of national defence’ rationale. The reality is many men spend their NS in filler, ‘supportive’ roles like ‘storemen’ or logistics supervisors, and are likely to pass out of it without a single day of field camp, without a sense of undying self-sacrificing purpose that anyone who puts on that uniform is supposed to have. Men without a single meaningful memory outside of staying in the bunk and waiting for orders to perform odd jobs.  At the other extreme, some have compared NS to SLAVERY, whereby minions are drilled in unarmed combat and how to stab dummies with a bayonet. Sort of like gladiators, perhaps. And then there is this guy, who has clearly applied aggression, the vital force of a winning army, in real life. In a LIBRARY. Shudder in fear, enemies!

Despite gaining all the ‘discipline’ and ‘values’ over 2 years, your boss may still quietly frown on your frequent call-ups, or you may miss out on crucial projects that could have earned you a promotion. Some can do without the ‘enrichment’ altogether by getting themselves downgraded, to the extent of celebrating it in public. How ironic that a ‘chow keng’ becomes a millionaire even before you manage to land your first job because you’re too busy defending the nation. Well, at least you still have your lifelong friends and an arsenal of explosive swear words, eh?

Our boys aren’t born Vikings, nor do they pass out of BMT mass chorusing ‘We will still be Friends Forever’ in Vitamin C’s hit ‘Graduation’. Personally I wouldn’t call NS a total waste of time, but I wouldn’t make a big-deal macho fantasy out of it either. The ST editor referred to our defence strategy as that of a ‘poison shrimp’ (NS is no glorified boot camp, 12 Oct 2013, ST) which deters anyone from stepping on it despite our miserable size. It’s dangerously unrealistic to think that we’re tiger prawns instead.

SAF ‘Shades of Green’ ad demeaning to women

From Aware Facebook page and, 7 Sept 2013.

Women, interested in a career with the Army? Quick, get out your eye-shadow palettes and pick your favourite shade of green, because that’s what will land you the job!

These packages went out to women in Singapore, advertising the Army Women’s Seminar 2013. It comes complete with a fake mirror and eye-shadow palette.

We want to let the Army know that make-up doesn’t stir our patriotic sentiments. Can you help us think of a creative, effective way to send them a message? The seminar is on the 14th of September, so we’ve to put our strategy together soon. Leave a comment on this post if you have a good idea.

Shades of Sexism

Shades of Sexism

SAF needs women badly and they’re on a recruitment spree to meet their target of an additional 500 female officers by 2018. If not for AWARE complaining about their marketing blitz being sexist, I wouldn’t have known about this Army Women’s Seminar. By harping on the Army objectifying women through the gimmick of green eyeshadow, AWARE has inadvertently given ad agency Mandate an unlikely helping hand in promoting the event. Any AWARE AGM would make a military seminar for ladies look like a flower arrangement workshop in comparison.

I’m sure AWARE fully supports the idea of having more ‘Girl Power’ in our armed forces, but maybe they should be ‘sending a message’ to the Army about the lack of female generals (the highest ranking female today is still Colonel) rather than picking on an ad for favouring provocation over patriotism. Personally I thought this fake makeup kit isn’t half as bad as the ‘trophy boyfriend’ ad some years back which suggested that women ovulate in squealing ecstasy at the sight of men in uniform. It’s also a novel way of getting women interested, instead of using models that suggest that female soldiers are supposed to look in a certain way that combines grace, dignity and steely courage, as below:

I see a woman wearing makeup

Or that they would fare well in the army by looking downright intimidating, like a discipline mistress in school.

Your future boss, ladies

I think the intention of the ‘Shades of Green’ ad is to portray an army career just like any other worth pursuing which involves dolling up as most professional women do, be it a high-flying corporate executive, an OL or an SIA stewardess. It also busts the stereotype that you have to look like a women’s judo champion, or a GI Jane, in order to serve. If a lady CEO dresses like a slut in public, AWARE is unlikely to complain, but if a female SAF officer dabs on lipstick in front of her male colleagues, it’s sexual oppression, nevermind if she does it while in full battle order and a rifle in hand.

It would be very helpful if AWARE actually does constructive creative work of their own and run some gender-neutral campaigns to support such events themselves, or better still volunteer to secure the frontline in the event of a real war. Those talons would come in really handy then.

Singapore, the world’s 20th biggiest arms exporter

From ‘S’pore 20 in weapons exports’, 21 March 2013, article by Hoe Pei Shan, ST

SINGAPORE is now the world’s 20th biggest arms exporter, having jumped 11 places in a year, new figures for last year reveal. Think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) found the volume of exports of major conventional weapons from Singapore leapt from a trend-indicator value (TIV) of 12 million in 2011 to 76 million. TIV is a common unit created by Sipri and, although based on the known unit production costs of a core set of arms, it is not representative of the financial value of the transfer.

…Sipri’s arms trade database is put together with information culled mainly from governments, the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and military trade publications. It shows Singapore’s recent exports include a £150 million (S$286 million) delivery of 115 Broncos (armoured personnel carriers) to Britain for its troops in Afghanistan and 10 to Thailand. An Endurance amphibious assault landing ship was also sold to Thailand in a $200 million deal and delivered last year. Singapore also made sizeable deliveries to Africa, selling six light helicopters to Chad and two patrol craft to Nigeria.

…Sipri data also shows Singapore remained the world’s fifth largest arms importer, securing 4 per cent of the global arms imports from 2008 to last year just as it did from 2007 to 2011.

The weapons-maker in question here is ST Kinetics, of ST Engineering. If you visit the ST Engg website, however, it doesn’t seem that they’re selling tanks, machine guns and other toys for crazy militant dictators. They specialise in ‘products and capabilities’, to provide customers with an ‘integrated force structure’, as a ‘reliable technology partner’ to local and overseas military ‘customers’. You’d think from such descriptions that they deal with radio equipment or satellite dishes, when the real money spinners are machines that either kill people or prevent them from getting killed.

Interestingly, this multi-billion dollar arms-trading conglomerate is partly owned by Temasek Holdings. The workshop which produces this gamut of weaponry calls itself the ‘Advanced Material Engineering’ Office, located at the aptly titled Rifle Range Road. That’s like calling the arsenal in the Matrix movies Toys R’ Us. I wonder if there are rebel child soldiers somewhere in darkest Africa carrying ‘Made in Singapore’ grenade launchers. There are already countries as far away as Latin America using our very own SAR21 as we speak, but the problem with being a producer of top quality guns, especially one with rave reviews like our SAR21, is that more people will want to give it a shot, be they actual armies, rogue paramilitia or loony gun enthusiasts with a licence to kill.

For a country so tight on security and still bans firecrackers, we’re shamelessly ingenious in our weapons development and export. In 1983, the Singapore Technology Corporation unveiled a GPMG (machine gun), a pod (containing 2 machine guns) for aircraft, and a commando mortar. That same year, CIS (Chartered Industries of Singapore), the precursor of ST Engg, celebrated 15 years of beefing up our armed forces with ‘quality products’ like the Ultimax 100 Semi Automatic Weapon and SAR 80 Assault rifle, both having won ‘world acceptance’. CIS was also incidentally the first ever government-linked company, established in 1967 for the sole purpose of manufacturing bullets.  These days, they don’t just produce ‘ammo’ anymore, but a ‘platform that carries and delivers payload‘. And what a payload indeed.

In 2008, the company boasted earnings of $115 million from 3 contracts, UK, Norway and an ‘unnamed Middle Eastern customer’. In that year alone, they reported 5 BILLION earned revenues. In 2009, they won a near 700 million dollar contract from the US Army selling rugged laptops among other equipment. Other recipients of our innovative ‘defence products’ include Chad, Indonesia and Nigeria, among other top secret customers kept on a tight lid. War is big business, and the last thing a company like ST Engg wants to see is feuding countries offering each other olive branches and group hugs. Arms makers will go bankrupt in a world where everybody ‘gives peace a chance’ and wouldn’t be global success stories if not for terrorist networks spurring militant governments into gearing up for cycle after cycle of needless violence. Thank you God of War for keeping us at the forefront of ‘technology’ and ‘advanced engineering’. The world definitely needs more ‘smart bombs’ and ugly tanks than, I dunno, robotics to mobilise the paralysed, or ‘magic bullets’ to treat malignant disease.

The secret to becoming a successful arms giant, then, is to give yourself a brand that sounds as innocuous as possible, and portray your ‘suite’ of products as ‘defence solutions’ and ‘delivery systems’ rather than harbingers of death. It’s like calling a company that makes and sells land mines Twinkle Toes Industries. Oh did I say land mines? I mean ‘improvised explosive devices’ (Thanks to commenter JayF for expertly explaining the difference, perhaps ‘area denial munitions’?)


Satanic soldier having sex with 11 year old cousin

From ‘Soldier jailed for sex with two minors; told one minor that he was a Satanist’, 12 March 2013, article by Elena Chong, ST.

A 21-year-old army regular was jailed for 20 months on Tuesday for having sex with two minors. Neither the accused nor the two girls, then aged 15 and 11, can be named as there is a gag order. A district court heard that he was initially given a 12-month conditional warning for having sex with his girlfriend, aged 15, at his home in November 2008. He was then 17. The girl, now 19, became pregnant and underwent an abortion.

He breached the condition of the warning to remain crime-free for the next 12 months by committing similar offences. This time, he preyed on his 11-year-old cousin. Claiming that he was a “Satanist”, he told her in October 2009 that since she was the first person to touch him, she must have sex with him or else “Satan” would “come after her”.

The girl became disturbed and later on, began to believe him as she started seeing “figures” in her bedroom. She was often scolded by her mother and she attributed the incidents of “bad luck” to the fact that she did not have sex with the accused.

Satanism is one way to use alleged powers of the occult to frighten gullible girls into sex, but the Horned One and the blood rituals committed in his honour have gone out of fashion in recent decades, which makes the victim’s fear of the Prince of Darkness rather surprising. Telling a kid horrific stories about Satan these days is as good as wriggling your fingers in a creepy fashion and summoning the Boogeyman. Parents no longer use scare tactics to send children to bed or ‘be good..or else’, when sometimes the threat of imaginary monsters may be more effective than a stern wagging finger and ‘rationalising’ with a brat who refuses to let go of your iPad.

There seems to be a trend of boys taking liberties with evil deities to deceive innocent girls. A certain ‘John’ fell into a trance in order to make girls succumb as he channeled Yan Luo Wang, the Chinese God of Hell back in 2011. Just earlier this month, Simon Wong Choy Chuan pretended to be possessed by ghosts whilst chanting and speaking in a different voice, calling himself ‘Gasura’, which sounds more like Godzilla’s bumbling arch nemesis than an embodiment of pure evil. For his theatrics he got 5 girls to submit to him, his hisses, fits and sputters probably more convincing than any of the professional actors on Channel 5′s Incredible Tales. But even blessed angels and saints aren’t spared from lecherous pretenders. You have fake monks ripping you off your ‘donations’ and priests touching boys where they shouldn’t be touching. If drawing inspiration from the pits of hell doesn’t work, there’s always the other side of the ‘supernatural’ to turn to.

The ‘medium con’ was first brought into public awareness by the shocking trial of serial rapist-killer Adrian Lim, who was an ‘ardent believer of the goddess Kali’. In 1983, he related to the courts how he SOMERSAULTED and rolled to the front of an altar, mimicking the ‘voice of an old man’. But it’s not just playing a vessel for spirit possession that makes people piss their pants. Conversely, you may trick someone into sex by convincing her that she herself is the one who needs a special brand of ‘exorcism’, taking ‘sexual healing’ to gruesome extremes. Lying alone is useless without a little persuasion, authority, plenty of charisma, and perhaps some gravity defying acrobatics for authenticity. You also have to choose your avatar wisely. It would be embarrassing to channel Hades, mythic Ruler of the Underworld and get a blank stare instead of reluctant undressing.

As customary as it is to symphatise with any victim of such a ruse, you’d have to wonder what good a little common sense and skepticism could do to save a child, or even an ADULT for that matter, from trouble. We teach our kids how to solve complex Maths problems but fail in our duty to protect them from malicious superstition or predators. Even if you’re the sort to be fooled by eyeball rolling and scary gibberish, at least ask yourself what our army is doing letting these wild, incestuous Satanists serve the country, what with their blood rite nonsense and heavy metal music and all. Let’s see what the Dark Lord has in store in return for this follower desecrating a nubile and blood relative like a good Satanist should. A hot tub in hell would be well deserved.

Bullying recruits the only good thing about army sergeant’s job

From ‘SAF investigating allegations on Facebook comments’, 14 Feb 2013, Channel News Asia

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) said it has begun investigations into allegations that a third sergeant had boasted about being able to vent his anger on recruits. The third sergeant is believed to have posted the comments on Facebook four days ago.

Screen grabs — believed to have been taken off his Facebook page — have been making their rounds on the internet. When contacted, SAF said it cannot comment further, as investigations are under way.

Angry 3SG

I thought this was sourced from the SAF Confessions Facebook page, but those are supposedly anonymous, protected and moderated. It’s not clear from this post HOW this guy shows his anger, so it’s rather premature to accuse him of recruit abuse unless it involves physical battering or ear pulling. Maybe he just hurled some vulgarities, stomped his feet or slammed some doors. If you look closer at the text, you’ll see that he’s vague on the source of the anger (‘show my anger when I’m pissed…at the recruits’). He could be pissed with an unrelated personal matter, or pissed off AT the recruits. So ‘venting his anger’, which suggests the former, may not be the accurate term to use here.

Anyone in the position of authority would be naturally inclined to bully, or ‘tekan’ others on a bad day if given the chance. Some teachers, for example, would threaten to sodomise you with a bat if you’re cheeky. But unlike proper professions that invoke authority and mentorship such as educators, nuns or doctors, the role of a sergeant in the army is mainly of command and control. As one who’s been through his own share of verbal abuse during NS, there’s no ‘code of conduct’ among army specialists to speak of, and you won’t lose your ‘job’ if you spend half a day ordering your boys to carry a locker up and down the stairs just for the heck of it. The trick, perhaps, is to act like you’re in foul mood on a permanent basis, so that we can’t tell the difference if you’re teaching us a lesson or your girlfriend just ditched you for another guy because you’re such a angry bastard outside of camp anyway.

Like most viral Facebook screengrabs, I believe this incident has been blown out of proportion. People exploit and abuse each other everyday without being reported about it. Your boss doesn’t approve your leave because his wife rejected sex. Your teacher calls you ‘stupid’ when she’s having her period. Your orientation camp leader makes you do push ups on top of girls you hardly know for no damn reason. It’s even harder to remain ‘professional’ when you’re a 3SG serving your time like the rest of your recruits. This guy got picked on because abuse in the army is a particularly sensitive issue, in fear of causing accidental death, psychological damage or worse, suicide. He also chose to voice what most guys in his position secretly relish inside. At the risk of vengeance attacks, notwithstanding.

The SAF Confessions page contains far worse, explicit depictions of abuse and juvenile tomfoolery if they to be believed. A pissed off sergeant would take a shit on your bed, for example.

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 9.59.04 PM

Figures of authority are not spared the wrath of their charges though. Some underlings ejaculate into their officer’s coffee.

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 10.19.24 PM

The army sure does crazy, extreme things to the mind, having to subject oneself to an atmosphere of regimented violence, confinement and blind obedience. I don’t see this going anywhere beyond a counselling session and maybe extra weekend duties at most, but my advice to this guy is to keep a really close watch on his canteen and coffee mug from now on.

We do duty, they pay a duty

From ‘MP moots defence tax on foreigners who don’t serve NS’, 14 Feb 2013, article by Amir Hussain, Today

…In his Facebook post early yesterday, MP Hri Kumar Nair proposed to impose additional income and property tax on PRs and foreigners via a “National Defence Duty”, to address “a current imbalance”.

Pointing to the “sacrifice all Singaporean males make” in serving NS, Mr Nair argued that there is also “a significant economic cost we pay”, as he cited men lagging two years behind in terms of career prospects, pay and job experience, among others.

“The thing is everyone living in Singapore benefits from this sacrifice — including PRs and foreigners,” he said. “In short, we do duty, they pay a duty. The rationale is simple — since PRs and foreigners cannot contribute manpower to our SAF and Home Team, they make a financial contribution to the protection and preservation of their lives, families, jobs, investments and properties.”

Further in Hri Kumar’s post, he proposed a National Service Trust consisting of foreigners’ ‘contributions’ which aims to compensate NSmen for any injuries or even loss of life during their stint. Isn’t it SAF’s and the Ministry’s DUTY to make sure NO NSmen gets hurt or dies needlessly at all during training? If Hri Kumar readily admits that there is an ‘imbalance’ because of NS in spite of its merits of building character and what not, one shouldn’t simply charge foreigners for peacekeeping pittance to treat the symptoms of what many perceive to be a waste of 2 years, but perhaps review the entire NS system, including reservist call-ups which take men away from work and family commitments. By depriving our men of family time, you’re forcibly relieving us our another far more important national ‘DUTY’; Making BABIES.

Ironically, the thought of ‘protecting’ foreigners’ assets and interests in this country never crossed my mind during my army days. If I were held captive and forced by an enemy soldier to choose between shooting a Singaporean vs an expat or the alternative of both dying, I’m likely to spare the Singaporean. When we’re told to defend our ‘land’, I take land to be synonymous with our ‘countrymen’. This is Singapore, our families and kin come first and we don’t do Godfather protection services.

Then there’s the lament by critics of this duty putting a ‘price tag’ on NS, or how much money SAF should take from you to cover the ‘loss’ of one soldier should you wish to bail out. One gauge of NS worth would be the looking at the penalty of dodging conscription, which is ‘up to $10,000 fine‘, or a 3 year jail term. In 1985, you would be charged a measly $2000 for refusing to serve your NS as long as you’ve made ‘positive contributions’ to Singapore. A high profile case which prompted the review of Enlistment Act penalties was that of internationally acclaimed pianist Melvyn Tan, who was fined $5ooo ($3K in some accounts) for failing to perform his NS duties. He also happens to be a British citizen, though apparently we have all forgotten about his AWOL stunt and continue to laud him as a ‘Singapore-born’ virtuoso, having performed here recently with a ‘Time Travel’ recital.

Naturally, most of the indignation stemmed against successful defaulters is not so much that they turned their back on the country, but because it’s just unfair that they could sneak away and make it big while at it. But you’d feel the same way about white horses who get to pursue their dreams till completion abroad anyway, whether or not they choose to remain Singaporean citizens thereafter. So it appears you can desert your country, become a citizen of another, pay the penalty of defaulting and still be celebrated as a ‘product’ of the country that birthed you, even though the SAF views you as a fugitive. Mixed messages, no?

If we ever do get into a real war, a foreigner may be more than happy to pay their ‘duty’, but I’m not sure if many will open their doors, feed, nurse and clothe you when you’re riddled with bullets and bleeding all over the place. In fact, when Armageddon hits, they could be long gone before the first bullet is even fired. When it comes to the crunch, we do duty, they scooty with their booty.


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