Steph's Friend

Thursday, January 26, 2006

National Service

As I read her letter, I can't help but wonder whether Ms Cheyenne was being sarcastic or not. But Mr Leonard took it from face value.

Cheyenne talked on a few issues. She talked about Melvyn Tan and the uproar he brought about. The issue of whether Singapore should be "mature" and accept someone who defaulted his NS (National Service). She also mentioned that "it is ok for [women] not to do [NS]", and that "the moment you are born male here, you have to serve NS".

1. Melvyn Tan has no doubt brought not only his musical talents back to his homeland, he also brought about the spark that changed the law for people like him. The fine has been increased to $10,000. The law has also included jail terms for defaulters.

2. Mature. How do you define maturity? The ability to forgive someone no matter what he has done? If that's the case, then who is mature? Humans being humans lack the capacity to forgive totally. Imagine someone who has gone through almost 12 years of high-keys and low-keys, do you think he is "mature" to forgive Melvyn Tan? I don't think so. The time spent...the weekends burnt...time that could be spent with your family...all of these gone in the name of "reservist". It's for the country you say. I agree. If it isn't, who in his right mind will be a reservist? But how about he who defaults? I leave that for you to decide.

3. Women for NS. Will it ever happen? There are females in the army, yes even officers, pilots and chief clerks. But how about National Service for women? If such a policy were implemented, I don't think there will be any females who will be for it. First of all, society has always seen the male as the stronger one (don't call me a MCP here now...) and the female as the weaker one (you may call me a MCP now...) (but seriously, it's what society says). Singapore I think won't be ready for a female conscription system.

Now how about the second writer, Mr Leonard? Well, here we hear from the mouth of what we call a NSman. For someone who sprinted for 2 1/2 laps and continued running for the next 13 laps, he is definitely speaking from experience. I believe that he expressed what many NSmen are feeling when he said,

"I did it without any reservation, I believed it was my duty to “stand on the wall” so that my family, friends and fellow Singaporeans could sleep peacefully.

I told myself that anyone who intended to cause harm to people like you would have to deal with me first.

I will readily put myself between you and harm’s way. Thousands of men and women do it everyday. Some have paid the ultimate price. They are there ... for you."

Seriously I don't think I can say such words. Yea, even though I am serving my NS now, his passion definitely outshines mine. Don't misunderstand me. I still love the people around me and my home. It's just that the words that he said are heavy and only if you are passionate about it can these words come out of your mouth.

So what can we learn from these two letters? National Service is I guess what being Singaporean is. It's hard to say that someone is a Singaporean when he did not serve his NS. There are many who are against it and for it. Whatever their stand is in this issue, most of them still go through it.

So are we "mature"? Can Singapore forgive Melvyn Tan? Will women ever be conscripted? That I'll leave it to you :D

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