Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and recent experiences!

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Singapore Armed Forces Day (SAF) 2016


Parade Square @ Amoy Quee Camp, 2SIR

Looking back, it was only during my 2-year National Service period that I did not take any photos at all. Year 2000. That was about 15 years ago. All I had was my SAF 11B ID photo which I still kept today.

My most memorable period of NS was during the 1st two months at Amoy Quee Camp, 2nd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (SIR). Physical trainings and marching drills. Among hundreds of recruits, little did I expect to be chosen to be my Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM)’s personal assistant. He was a stern teacher yet a fatherly figure. Although I am no officer cadet, he still taught me to think and behave like one. Integrity and self-discipline. RSM quite doted on me wheras his subordinates – the CSM (Company Sergeant Major)/S1 and S4 sergeants loved to come “disturb” me time to time. 

I used to slouch my back. It was my company platoon commander who trained me to develop and maintain a good habit of walking and sitting up-straight. He said, “You are now RSM’s PA. You ought to walk like one. Walk like a positive young man. More importantly, you will not suffer from any posture issues when you grow old one day.” Yet he was also the one who always tricked me into doing more chin-ups when doing IPPTs. My lousiest station. :p

As for my platoon sergeant, he was the first sergeant who reached out for my friendship during 1st or 2nd day of my NSF life. He made the first move. I didn’t want to talk to anyone at that time, so I wondered “Among all people, why does this sergeant come to me? I am only a NSF recruit. He likes me?”

He thawed that little iciness in me, made me understood what brotherhood is about. We are of about the same age. He offered to help whenever I encountered any problems. He liked to slow down, running alongside with me when doing 2.4km morning runs. Liked to chill out with me after last parade and routine order. Ate together during mealtimes at the cookhouse. We may sometimes even exit the camp together when we booked out on Saturdays. We became quite close eventually. Although I was later transferred to Sembawang Air Base (SBAB), I went back to 2SIR once to look for him about a year later, to see if he is still there. I couldn’t find him, thought he wasn’t around in the camp, hence I left my contact number with HQ S1 office. Yes, he was around – that was when he called me on my mobile phone when I was just out of the camp gate, telling me to u-turn back to go find him at the HQ Officer Mess. I ran back.

My platoon sergeant taught me to reach out, extending friendship to others first, which I do today. I followed doing what he has done. 🙂

Thank you Sir. My hearing impairment has had not in a way or another, stop you people from believing in me, giving me selfless guidance.

How have you guys been? I also missed my then Platoon 4 mates at Bravo Coy.

Every July 1st, it is Singapore Armed Forces Day. Happy belated SAF Day.

We are young lions, second to none! 🙂

Extra reading note: Here was what I wrote previously -> Singapore Armed Forces Day 2014






It was about 13 years ago when I was enlisted in National Service, fulfilling my national duty as a Singaporean Son.

That was 27 June 2000.

Till today, I still miss my initial NS days at 2nd Infantry Regiment (2SIR) at Amoy Quee Camp. Bravo Company. 1.5 months. Physical Training Program (PTP). 9th Mono Intake. Those fond memories with my platoon mates and platoon sergeant, before I was later transferred to Personnel Administration Centre @ Sembawang Air Base (if not for my downgrading of PES status due to my hearing issue). The group camaderie. I would have went through Basic Military Training (BMT), however I did not.

Like all NSFs, I found it totally “sianz” whenever I need to book-in on Sunday nights. I felt there were “not enough time for me to enjoy when I book out during weekends”. At the same time, I was also yet somehow happy that I was able to get away from the control of my parents. Hahaha.

I was appointed to become PA to 2SIR Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). I wondered why I was handpicked; but I must say that as a newbie recruit, I learnt alot from this NS superior. He taught me alot of stuff about leadership such as respecting men as people first, before I can command or gain their respect to me on my whatever rank status. When National Day came, he shared with me knowledge about NDP marchpasts and the meaning of significance behind various colours flags. He treated me as if I was one of his subordinate officers, even though I was just a recruit. Due to fact that my unit was involved in National Day 2000 Carnival @ Marina South, we were given 4 off-days-in-lieu. Wow. That was soooooooo shiok. lol.

I still remembered the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Pledge recited on the 1st day of enlistment at 2SIR Hall:

We, members of the Singapore Armed Forces,

do solemnly and sincerely pledge that we will always bear true faith

and allegiance to the President and Republic of Singapore.

We will always support and defend the Constitution.

We will preserve and protect the honour and independence of our country

with our lives.


I have no NS liabilities after my basic 2-year NS stint. Having served National Service(NS) made me understand the rationale why we born-bred Singaporeans need to defend the independence and sovereignty of Singapore. If not us ourselves, who will help protect our people and possessions when war time comes?

Yes, NS is indeed tough. It is about mental resilience, self-discipline and team co-operation. It is also about growing up into adulthood.

Our Government has accepted a slew of 30 recommendations made by Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) on 10 June 2014. This is after a year-long public consultation with 40,000 members of the public (inclusive of NSmen).

These are just some of the recommendations accepted:

A strong NS training system

  • Strengthen NS training system by employing an additonal 1,100 Regulars in Singapore Armed Forces and 230 Regulars in Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force, to improve training and inculcate values more effectively.

More opportunities for NSmen to contribute

  • Increment in leadership opportunities for NSmen by raising the proportion of officers and specialists from 30% to 40% to meet new operational needs.
  • Increment of deployment flexibility for full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) by taking into account skills and preferences when deploying them.
  • Providing more leadership opportunities as well as deployment options for servicemen in service vocations to allow them to contribute more.
  • Enhancement of value proposition of NS by having skills accreditation that NSFs gain during their 2-year NS stint, and enhance the Certificate of Service to highlight competencies and skills gained during full-time NS.
  • Providing scholarships to develop home-grown talents in engineering and science, of whom will be able to contribute to the 3rd Generation SAF.
  • Providing opportunties for NSFs to contribute as SAF/SPF/SCDF Regulars on short contracts after completion of their full-time NS.
  • Expansion of opportunities for NSmen with relevant civilian expertise to contribute to national defence and security in their areas of expertise.

SAF Volunteer Corps

  • Establishment of SAF Volunteer Corps to allow broader communities especially women/1st-generation permanent residents/new citizens, to contribute to national defence and strengthen support for NS.

A more positive NS experience: Easing administrative restrictions

  • Engage schools and educational institutions to help pre-enlistees to build up their fitness levels prior to full-time NS.
  • Work with tertiary institutions to explore ways on how to reduce transition time after full-time NS.
  • Reduce enlistment wait-time for pre-enlistees to between 4 and 6 months after completion of post-secondary education.
  • Change MINDEF Notification Centre and Home Team Notification Centre requirements, such that notification will only be required for overseas trips of more than 14 days, giving greater convenience to NSmen.
  • Increment of incentive awards by extra $100 for the attainment of Gold, Silver and Pass with Incentive for IPPT fitness test, to recognise NSmen who put in extra effort to keep themselves fit.

SAF Day falls on 1st July every year, for members of the Singapore armed forces to “rededicate themselves to bear true faith and allegiance to the President and the Republic, support and defend the Constitution, stay loyal to the country, people and Government, and defend the honour and independence of the Republic of Singapore”.

HAPPY SAF DAY, everyone!!!!!!~~~