Alan Soh

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

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Military Training Safety


I am saddened and shocked when news broke out on Wednesday night (23 Jan) that actor and fellow Singaporean, Aloysius Pang had died due to his crush injuries at an military exercise in New Zealand. It has sent shockwaves across the island state.

It is the 4th military-related training death occurred in 18 months since 2017.

The Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong Su Kiat , and Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Goh Si Hou held a press conference shedding light to media on its preliminary investigation findings on Thursday 24 Jan.

At the time of incident, what were the other 2 personnel doing?

If all three could see each other in the cabin, then the two men should reasonably be able to answer the 2 burning questions which everyone is now asking – who was the one who pressed the button, and why was it not clearly communicated in the cabin and getting the “all clear” before the button push was made, causing this unfortunate trauma to Aloysius?

I am not pushing blame on the other two but I feel strongly that they are the ones who probably are the best people to provide these answers.

A young life has been taken away mercilessly.

I firmly believe Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had already gotten the answers from the two men. Perhaps SAF probably feel that it is not the right timing to reveal the real truth, or simply wants to craft their so-call PR speeches or worse, hoping that time will pass, Singaporeans will forget and it will be another day for everyone? I hope not, and I believe SAF would not do this.

SAF can provide PR-crafted answers but honestly speaking, Singaporeans expect transparent answers. This is what we all want to hear. Not beating around the bush and go back to square one.

As such, I sincerely hope that SAF can be truthful, transparent and honest in the upcoming Committee of Inquiry (COI) findings in Pang’s case. If personnel are proven negligent which directly or indirectly cause the death of Aloysius Pang, please mete out appropriate punishment penalty.

To be fair and objective, the fault does not lie with National Service (NS) policy. NS is here to say. Given our small country size, I support the notion that we must have a strong, effective military force to create deterrence for any group, or any country which harbour thoughts to attack us. NS is important because we Singaporeans are the only ones who can protect ourselves, our possessions and loved ones.

Rather, I believe the fault lies more of negligence, disregard of safety rules, peer pressure, lack of vigilance, not exercising check, care and concern for one another, miscommunication, poor attitude towards safety, and false assumptions.

Heavier punishments should be imposed. It seems to me that current levels of safety awareness among national servicemen may not be high enough. What is the point in calling for more doctrinal change if safety rules are not followed seriously by national servicemen at bottom levels? How would senior NS officers know? How many NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) do not something properly but then tell their NS superiors that they claimed having followed all safety guidelines?

It can be just another day for you and me but not for his parents, family, girlfriend (actress Jayley Woo Jiaqi), relatives, friends and even unrelated strangers of Pang.

This case hits home harder, partly due to Aloysius’ celebrity status. It hits the heart of every Singaporean Son and even more so for parents who have growing-up boys.

Safety is paramount in SAF. There must be stronger safety culture. Encourage a whistleblower/feedback policy on anyone who is suspected flouting safety rules, regardless of NS ranks. Otherwise, Singapore could face a worrying scenario of having worried parents who hesitate to send their boys for National Service and subsequently, reservist duties (till the age of 40 years old for NS ranks below officers).

It is the people at the bottom who end up suffering the most for the lack of safety awareness, who among us cut corners on it in the first place.

Regrettably, the 28-year old boy was flown home to Singapore but in a lifeless state. He will be accorded a full honours military funeral at Mandai Cremation Centre today (Sunday 27 Jan).

I went to pay my respects last night (Sat 26 Jan).

Given his age, he can be my younger brother.

His young life is cut short abruptly. This shouldn’t have happened, at all.

No words now can relieve the pain of his parents and loved ones.

I hereby express my deepest condolences to his Noon Talk Media manager, Dasmond Koh, his parents, family members, relatives, colleagues and fans.

To our fallen brother, rest in peace Aloysius.

We will miss you deeply.


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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!!!!!!~~~