Ok. I need to get this out of my system. I have been rushing the completion of as much work as possible before I go for my reservist in-camp training tomorrow. For the next 3 weeks, I will be paying the price of being born a male in the glorious nation of Singapore. I’m rushing work that needs to be completed days in the future, work which was ‘ordered’ only days before because I won’t be around in the weeks ahead.
I applied for deferment and it was rejected. The reason ‘work commitments’ was deemed invalid because the company had time to prepare for my period away at training. How were they to prepare for it? Duplicate another resource to the team so that two people will have the same knowledge of a system build up over 1.5 years of working so that the other person can cover me when I am away for 3 weeks. Seriously? You think every company has the same sort of redundancy built into the gloriously competent SAF?
Ask the company to withhold promoting me to a higher level of responsibility and instead pass it to another individual so there will be no gap when I’m away at in-camp training?
Now, I have always maintained National Service was important and have made it a point to go back for every single training. Even training I had to go because SAF lost the records of my previous training. Yes. The SAF made me go back to do something I already did because their clerks were so ‘meticulous’ in their processing of paperwork.
I didn’t need to do any RT. I’m saying it now. I could have failed my IPPT to kingdom comes and wouldn’t need to do a single second of RT but I called up the people responsible for maintaining the RT system and told them they missed me from their records. I eventually learned the reason why I was missed and it was another ‘shining’ example of how the SAF administration works.
When I had fever, I still took the ATEC 1 tests because there was no other person to replace me in my section. Yes, so little people went back during the last training that we had a shortage of personnel that shuffling men around couldn’t even help.
I’m not saying I have been the best solider. What I’m saying is that as much as possible, I have done what was asked of me. I haven’t made it a point to go out of my way to skip training. I haven’t ‘eat snake’ during NS and reservist trainings.
I was hoping if the day comes when my outside civilian life might be impacted by training, that the people in charge would honor the implicit bargain I thought was made – I will give my best whenever I can, and you don’t fuck around with the civilian life that actually really matters.
I’m not saying that training doesn’t matter. It does. But at the end of the day, it should be recognized that some training is good to have and some is just plain wayang. I can say for the 3 weeks back in camp, I’ll probably be rushing to wait, waiting to rush most of the time, just like every other time.
On another note:
I could have applied for partial deferment and on hindsight, I am wondering if I should have. I’ll go back to camp and discuss with my superiors. The way I see it, only 1 week is really crucial during this training.
The problem with our reservist system is that a lot of the officers we have aren’t the ones we trained and lived with for the better part of 2.5 years we did NS. What it means is that there is no way for the officers to know if an individual is making a genuine request for deferment because he believes that he can’t afford the time for training or he is just trying to ‘eat snake’/malinger. If it was my old officer from NS, I am pretty sure he would know I wouldn’t have made the request unless I was sure I needed the deferment.
In this sense, I understand the difficulty for them in granting deferments to the non-hardcore cases. The hardcore cases who are out just to avoid training would berate them with requests until it is much easier for the officers to just grant the request or these hardcore malingerers would just report ‘sick’.
The irony is that the new officers demand the same loyalty from us when they themselves are unable to show the same sort of loyalty. It is no one’s fault. Both parties don’t know each other. But by virtual of rank, they can ‘force’ that loyalty.
On a final note:
I hate how patronizing foreigners and women are when I share about how much a disruption NS is. Fuck you, you understand. Don’t give me the platitude ‘I am serving my nation’ and shouldn’t complain. And while we (those who serve NS) might joke that it is free chalet with free food and exercise, we jest because we recognize what a major inconvenience reservist is and its symbolism of how much the state owns the males in Singapore (which is a lot). You (i.e. foreigners and women) don’t get the right to make snide comments about how lucky we are to have a holiday and do not need to work.
While we may be communing with nature, reservist isn’t a walk in the park.
On a final final note:
I once talked to a bunch of older guys about their reservist liabilities and it seems that their take on it is slightly different from mine. They actually looked forward to reservist training.
I think the difference arises because the SAF is now rushing us through our cycles. The higher-ups from SAF say it is to help us finish our liabilities earlier, but I believe it is really just to help the SAF save cost. When I have to do reservist training when I am in university, you don’t have to pay much for salary. So a cycle that starts when an individual is 25 and ends late in his thirties is much more expensive than the cycle which starts when an individual is 22.
Anyway, the reason why those older dudes looked forward to reservist:
1. No need to listen to wife nag.
2. No need to send kids to school early in the morning.
3. Can tell wife he is outfield and then go out with his army buddies.