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How NS Made Me More Woke About The Value Of Defence

I'll be honest.

Watching "Ah Boys to Men" – the comedy blockbuster directed by Jack Neo – put a lump in my throat.

Inspired by National Service (NS) and the Singapore Armed Forces, the movie is meant to be lighthearted. But I clearly remember the opening scene almost bringing tears to my eyes as it portrayed Singapore being attacked and bombed by unknown forces.

A local film almost every Singaporean Son can relate to.Screenshot: Ah Boys to Men

NS is not easy, yet it is a key factor in the defence of our country as well as a reminder of why national defence is so vital to Singapore. I learnt much during my two-year stint and left more woke about the value of defence.

Hopefully my personal journey – and the different roles I undertook – will do the same for you.

Role: Naval Officer Cadet (Midshipman)

Takeaway: Defence is critical in peacetime 

During my training as a Naval Officer Cadet or Midshipman, I had the opportunity to sail for one month, berthing at ports in Indonesia and Australia where we hosted their naval forces through dinner and cocktail events. All this was done for the sake of diplomacy and maintaining good relations with these countries.

Defence isn’t always about who has the bigger guns or armed forces. Peacetime means that defence comes also in the form of good diplomacy and international relations.

I was partnered with an international officer from New Zealand named Jordan Appleton and we engaged in joint military exercises. Through our frequent exchanges, we gained new insights about the cultures of each other’s countries as well as forged a wonderful friendship.

The training was definitely tough but the experience of training with foreign military personnel showed how much respect others held for Singapore and our armed forces. Certainly made me proud to wear the uniform and represent Singapore overseas in a foreign country.

Role: Writer/Photographer at Naval Information Centre (NIC)

Takeaway: Unique opportunities to defend abound

Perhaps the best part of my NS journey; this was definitely the most interesting and enjoyable role I had. I attended SAF events on behalf of the navy and captured photos on top of writing content for inner circulation within the SAF. Singapore Airshow? Check. Cool helicopter landings on board ships? Check. China’s Minister of National Defence making his inaugural visit to the navy? Check, check, check!

During my time as a photographer for the Naval Info Centre, I managed to catch a rare glimpse of how the Republic of Singapore Air Force works with the Republic of Singapore Navy to protect the seas and skies.Photo: Ng Kai

The more events I attended, the prouder I was about our country’s defence. It filled me with a sense of pride to see major global powers want to come to Singapore and acknowledge the capabilities of our defences. If we didn’t have the weaponry and people to man them effectively, these foreign powers would not be the least interested in us. As a Singaporean son, it definitely gave new meaning to what it means to be part of our armed forces!

Role: Loading Assistant at Tuas Naval Base (TNB)

Takeaway: Defence comes in many forms

Near the end of my NS, I was a loading assistant at TNB and my main role was to be under the hot sun packing and loading ammunition required by our vessels. However, I was approached by my Commanding Officer (ME6 Ong Keng Meng) and superior (ME4 Ng Jun Jie) to help out on pioneering a food delivery system to Changi Naval Base (CNB).

To be honest, my first thought was sian, kena arrowed do saikang. However, looking back, I was grateful that my CO recognised my strong skillset in innovation and gave me this opportunity to represent the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) in contacting food delivery services such as Grabfood and Honestbee to set up the first ever food delivery system to CNB. 

I became the main liaison between the RSN and external food delivery services. My role included setting up meetings between senior commanders and representatives from Grabfood and Honestbee. During these meetings, I had the opportunity to make suggestions for a more cohesive food delivery system, and ensured that the entire RSN was informed of such a service by coming up with creative and engaging posters and promo codes that were sent out by mass mail.


While all these might seem frivolous, it made me realise that our servicemen and women can have these perks because of our strong defence and peacetime mandate that we rigorously uphold.

So if you kena arrowed to help out in other matters, do your best! Every role counts towards our overall defence and the betterment of our armed forces.

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