Maids carry bags for Gen Y soldiers

From ‘He’s in the army…but she has the backpack’, article by Jessica Lim, 28 March 2011, ST Home

A photograph being circulated online has sparked a heated debate about whether Gen Y soldiers are too pampered.

In it, a young man, dressed in head-to-toe in army fatigues, is captured with a woman carrying what is presumably his backpack.

…Most (netizens) were critical of the soldier, calling him ‘spoilt’ and ‘lazy’…Yet there were others…saying a shoulder injury could have prompted the need for help from the person whom they assumed was a maid.

…(Erik Elzinger): Your bag is your own responsibility. In war, the maid will not carry it for you.

…(Nicholas Seet): Kids these days are so spoilt…The maid does everything for them, and they grow up with distorted sense of reality…The whole idea if national service is to groom boys to become men. And here, a maid is carrying the bag. It’s priceless.


Not a boy, not yet a man

Considering how heavy children’s schoolbags are these days, it’s probably no surprise that our boys’ shoulders have become strained with chronic overuse through the years. A common assumption of the public seeing a man in uniform is that he’s combat fit, when he could very well be in the music and dance entertainment troupe, or a storeman who ‘s medically excused from lifting heavy loads, though in this case it could just mean a bag full of dirty laundry. Even if he were commando-fit, you’ll probably get the same accusations from the public about NSmen being crybaby, pampered wussies if he had opted for a SAF commissioned trolley bag instead of  a bulky field pack, or if his parents or girlfriend drove all the way to pick him up from camp, something which I can vouch from my experience in service. The contents of a standard field pack are wholly inadequate in the event of a real war anyway, where instead of ammunition, water and combat rations you have mandatory packs of running shoes, slippers and talcum powder so hermetically compacted in Ziploc that they’re more useful as pillows to rest your head than anything befitting of actual combat.

It’s only natural for the public to expect NSmen and put on a ruggedly worn, unwashed face after booking out, their boots caked in mud, hands callused and smelling of gun soot, muscling their backpacks home on public transport like real soldiers do, and be doting, trophy boyfriends and filial sons once they’re in civilian attire. But capturing one shameless brat in a dismal light is missing out on the big picture, that fathers still pick their boys from camp, Mummies wash and iron their uniforms, and maids, if they’re not carrying backpacks,  are at least preparing their meals, which are perfectly normal activities often construed as pampering just because the boy is supposed to be virilised after the end of 2 otherwise wasted years. That romanticised image of a testosterone charged G.I Joe who wears the badge of macho service everywhere he goes, hand washing his own clothes and spitting on his boots while polishing them doesn’t exist here, and if his backpack were not slung around the shoulders of his maid, it’ll probably be in the boot of his father’s car or in a taxi. So the issue here is not about army men putting the SAF to shame, rather it’s a simpler question of chivalry and self-respect, if a grown man should have his domestic worker, a woman, carry his stuff for him while he busies himself with his phone. And any boy who knows how a girl should be treated and has a useful arm, would know the answer in an instant.



2 Responses

  1. The uniforms are made of some synthetic wash n wear material so no need for the maid or mummsie to press as before. Just means it’s even easier to get nappy rash in the heat and humidity! Poor boys; my heart bleeds for the Singapore soldier.

    They probably have lighter packs than ever, catered meals and all sorts of mod cons that real life soldiers do not enjoy in real operational situations.

    So woe be the Singaporean who expects or dare hope to be defended by any of our NS lads if push comes to shove and they have to face real action.

    NS is like playing “masak masak” without real fire.

    • Not forgetting those who report depression in camp hence officers have to go easy on them lest they do something drastic with live ammo

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