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Personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps do their part to ensure the safety and security of NDP participants and spectators alike. Images: Sim Ding En

They’ve Stepped Forward To Serve The Nation, And Keep NDP 2023 Safe

Singapore will celebrate its 58th birthday on 9 Aug at the Padang. To make this year’s National Day Parade a spectacular one requires the efforts (read: months of training and rehearsals) of not only the over-1,700 participants in the Parade and Ceremony segment and the over-2,400 performers in the Show segment, but also the thousands involved behind the scenes.

These unseen heroes include more than 250 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC), a uniformed volunteer scheme inaugurated in 2015 to give Singaporeans and Permanent Residents the opportunity to contribute to national defence, and show support for national service.

Here, four SAFVC Volunteers (SVs) who not only do their part in the defence of our Little Red Dot, but also support operations at NDP that range from water safety, to medical services and crowd management.


SV1 Chua Mei Yun

SV role: Air Force Training Assistant

Deployed for NDP 2023 as: Crowd Management

While SV1 Mei Yun was prompted to become an SV by a desire to contribute to Singapore’s defence, she also felt it would be “quite fun” to do so together with her husband, who is a regular with the Singapore Armed Forces. Without informing him, she signed up and went through the interview before letting him know the news, “in case I didn’t get in!”

National Day at the Padang this year isn’t the first NDP outing for the 39-year-old banker, who really likes NDP and has been part of a marching contingent before.

“This is the first time I’m actually behind the scenes at NDP. It’s a different experience because I get to interact directly with members of public,” she says. “What has truly amazed and inspired me is that at the end of the National Education and Preview shows, as spectators make their way home, they really show their gratitude towards us. It makes me feel very motivated to turn up at the Padang every week!”


SV1 Matthieu Liefooghe

Deployed for NDP 2023 as: Safety Coxswain

As the parade is inspected on 9 Aug, 25-pounder Howitzer guns on board the Mobility 3rd Generation (M3G) military raft in Marina Bay will fire a 21-gun salute to the President. Providing safety coverage for such a water-borne activity is Safety Coxswain SV1 Matthieu, who is French and has been in Singapore for 18 years.

“[My reason for stepping forward] stemmed from the desire to contribute to and to participate in national defence. I’ve got two sons as well. They will have to go through national service, and I wanted to support them on their journey,” says the 39-year-old who works in the retail industry, and is married to a Singaporean.

“[In the future,] if I can still do it, and I’m still physically fit, I would love to take part in such large-scale events,” he adds.


SV1 Julieana Binte Suhaimi

Deployed for NDP 2023 as: Auxiliary Security Trooper

Early childhood educator SV1 Julieana is, in her own words, “not a typical childcare teacher”. “I bring children out into the forest on field trips, for example. So it’s really exploring outside the classroom,” explains the Auxiliary Security Trooper.

“When the children hear from me that I’m also part of the army, they get very excited and say, ‘Oh! My daddy is also in the army!”

Ironically, the 24-year-old was never in a uniformed group, but was “forced to be in the choir the whole of my secondary school life”. She yearned for the camaraderie she witnessed from schoolmates in the Red Cross, NPCC and NCC groups, and eventually found it when she joined the SAFVC.

The biggest highlight from her first deployment at NDP 2023: “Being able to interact with people, and still enjoy myself and serve the country as a security trooper – that's my greatest takeaway.”


SV2 Sowrinayaham Hiruthayaraj Vinscy Daniel

SV role: Bridge Watchkeeper

Deployed for NDP 2023 as: Crowd Management

As a Bridge Watchkeeper in his SV role, SV2 Vinscy performs navigational duties onboard Landing Ship Tanks. At this year’s NDP, the 44-year-old has been deployed to support crowd management, a role that he’s enjoyed because of the many different people he’s been able to meet and interact with.

With regard to advice to NDP spectators, there are two things he cannot stress more: Firstly, monitor your timing – get to the location early! And secondly, check where all the roadblocks are.

A new Singapore Citizen originally from India, SV2 Vinscy stepped forward to be an SV as a way to teach his 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter the importance of national defence.

His other half is equally supportive. “So far, no complaints from my wife, actually!” he says.

Things you might not know about the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC)

  • The SAFVC is open to individuals aged 18 to 45 who don’t have to do national service – like women, first-gen Permanent Residents, and new citizens.
  • Not everyone gets in – only shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews and medical screenings to see if they’re suitable.
  • Volunteers undergo Basic Training (BT) with experienced crew from HQ SAFVC and Regular trainers (meaning those who have signed on with the SAF).
  • In the first year, all SAFVC Volunteers (VCs) go through BT either in 10 weekdays or over four weeks. Employers continue to pay CPF contributions based on civilian remuneration while volunteers are away for SAFVC training.
  • Training happens at Maju Camp, SAFVC Barracks, with separate living quarters for male and female volunteers.
  • SVs don’t have to take the Individual Physical Proficiency Test or IPPT (but should still keep fit for operational duties).
  • SVs are usually called up to serve for 14 days each year. The number of deployment days for each call-up depends on the volunteer’s role-specific requirements, which can be between 1 day to 2 weeks.
  • All SVs are members of the SAF, just like active and NS servicemen. They will be subject to military law during service.

For more information about SAFVC, click here.

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