NS – The Price Of Being A Male In The Glorious Nation Of Singapore

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.

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The Significance of 2009

I saw something on Facebook and didn’t think much about it until I realized it has been 3 years since I graduated.

3 years.

Do you know what that means to a lot of my peers from NUS?

It means now they can start leaving Singapore for possibly ‘greener’ pastures.

I wonder though … for them, is it ‘See You Later’ or ‘Good Bye. Good Riddance. Thanks for the MONEY! Suckers!’.

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Singapore Is The Girl Who Pays To Get Laid

I always find it extremely surreal when my foreign colleagues complain that Singapore is too crowded. Oh, the sweet, sweet irony.

Anyway, there was a recent report in the Straits Times on the ‘Foreign vs local debate‘.

On the other side of the fence, a permanent resident argued that he should receive more benefits as he paid similar taxes to citizens. An employer spoke up in favour of foreign workers, and complained about the high turnover rate of local workers.

In his responses, Mr Gan (Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong) underlined the need for balance between keeping foreigners to boost Singapore’s economy and keeping jobs for Singaporeans. He said: ‘We need to manage and strike a calibrated approach. Foreigners are important and contribute but we must always find ways to help Singaporeans compete.’

Does Singapore need foreigners? Of course. The questions of how much and where we need them have nuanced answers and I won’t be talking about them today. Ditto to the discussion on the consequences of having foreigners in Singapore.

What I want to talk about is that nice girl who has such low self-esteem that she thinks the only way she can get any love is be a obsequious servant, occasional sex slave to the self-absorbed emotionally abusive guy who capriciously grants his fleeting attention.

I never could understand such girls.

Well, if Singapore was a lady, she would be such a one, despite the hot set of wheels, designer dress and killer heels.

The problem with being too nice to people, is that, more often than not instead of being grateful, they become more demanding. Try doing free freelance work for people – they tend to be less appreciative and more demanding than the people who actually pay you. Foreigners (PRs included) in Singapore have this overwhelming sense of entitlement because of this seemingly natural psychological predisposition of humans.

Foreigners think they are doing Singapore a favor because we allow them to.

Singapore has got to start having a different mentality (a non-crutch mentality) with regards to foreigners. We want you but we don’t need you. We can get along just fine. Maybe no towering skyscrapers. Maybe no billion dollar resorts. Maybe not so many BMWs on the road. But we will get by just fine. You guys just ice the cake.

When foreigners start having a mindset change, that Singapore is doing them a favor by allowing them to be here, then things will change. But since we can’t change how they think, we got to change how we think.

(of course, ideally, both parties should recognize that we are in fact in a mutually beneficial relationship. Sadly, mutually beneficial relationships rarely last, because humans are greedy SOBs who always want to get one up on another and are seldom recognized because some joker will always feel shortchanged and think that he/she deserve more.)

Another thing, not all foreigners have the same experience in Singapore. There are bullies in Singapore who 打狗要看主人面. And some of these foreigners unfortunately are not in a position to protect themselves. They aren’t here to make life harder for us. They are here to be exploited by those among us (some our own kin) who have the resources to do so.

Sadly, all these foreign versus local debates will get nowhere. Why? Because we are humans. And humans will always use (dehumanize and exploit) fellow humans to satisfy our own avaricious appetite. Your only solution? Be the one who can make the best (ab)use of whoever is in Singapore – be it foreigner or local.

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Singapore Sucks And I Can’t Marry You Cos You’re Not A Virgin

Came across this Facebook Group – Singapore Sucks. The reactions over at Stomp are interesting.

Does Singapore suck? It has its ugly sides. It also has its charms. It really depends on what is important to you. Do other countries suck? Possibly? Of course? Just follow the news a little more. Travel a little more. You are definitely sure to find something about some countries, if not all countries, that you don’t like.

Are these foreigners on the mark when they say Singapore sucks? Their opinions are quite funny because most of the stuff said are familiar.

My country can be ugly.

I think there is almost no government in this world that value foreigners as highly as the Singapore government. Hell, there probably isn’t a single government that gives its citizens the impression that it values foreigners more than its own citizens. What really interests me is whether other countries face this possible little inconvenient problem we have with foreigners – that for all the welcoming we do, there is no country that is more hated by the foreigners she so badly desires and welcome.

Are Singaporeans generally ruder than people in other cities? Possibly – I haven’t live in any city long enough to know that answer, much less all the cities.

Here is something interesting. The older generation always, in their reminiscences, seem to convey the impression that things were much simpler in the past and people, as neighbors, were much nicer.

Things have changed and part of it is due to our relentless pursuit for economic growth. In that pursuit, we have made certain decisions, done certain things that has changed our society. Individually we have possibly become different. But hey, you know what, as a society we have more foreigners.

What sort?

Would it be presumptuous to say the sort that go where money can possibly be made.

Seriously, if Singapore is as bad as some say it is, so culturally devoid of any soul, so morally reprehensible that our citizens have no sort of decency and courtesy, so politically backward that no one has any sort of personal freedom, then what would attract scores of foreigners.

I’ll be so bold as to make a few guesses – Money; the chance of economic prosperity; the opportunity to rape another developing country for whatever resources it has.

Don’t kid yourselves. Corporations didn’t come here because they wanted to help Singapore develop. Expats weren’t sent here to help our citizens develop.

Better pay. Better job. Different lifestyle. Tax incentives. Parking of money.

Notice a trend?

Maybe Singapore is so terrible NOW because of all the foreigners. We could possibly have, unfortunately, attracted all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons.

We are all connected.

This reminds more of a little joke:

A guy said to a virgin girl, “I love you a lot. Don’t you love me? What’s wrong with having sex if we love each other.” The girl was moved and lost her virginity to the guy. After the sex, the guy turned to the girl and said, “We have to break up. I can’t marry a girl who is so immoral and not a virgin before marriage.”

Singaporeans, this is not an absolution of our complicity in this matter. It is up to us to set our own priorities. To start changing what can be changed. To start attracting the people who want to be here for the right reasons (we probably have to decide what these right reasons are).

And let this be a lesson to Singaporeans. It is stinging when we open our home to outsiders and they eat our food, steal our cutlery, have their way with our women and then proceed to piss on our beds. It is, to put it mildly, rather rude of them.

Let us not be like that and if you really look in a mirror, we have been rather poor travelers and guests ourselves.

And oh, foreigners who think Singapore has nothing to offer, maybe you got to start hanging out with different groups of locals.

Further Thoughts:

Singapore has always had foreigners. Even my paternal grandfather was a foreigner. The better life for people arriving then would be food, security, shelter and material possessions like clothing. It has remained so. And the new foreigners we are attracting, while different in degree, probably have similar definitions of the better life.

It is up to us then, who have due to the blood, sweat and sacrifices of generations before us, to build a different better life, if we want to, so that generations after us will move up the hierarchy of needs.

Maybe Singapore was never meant to be a country – she should have just remained a port and an administrative outpost. Someone once commented that an individual’s destiny is determined by genes. Similarly the reason for Singapore’s birth will chart an immutable course for us into social and cultural oblivion.

singapoe_sucks

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Singapore Is Making Some Of The Mistakes That Led Empires To Ruin.

I am not sure if this blogger is jesting when he suggests we outsource the Singapore Armed Forces. Maybe he is. Or maybe the frustration of NS supposedly handicapping us Singapore males against foreigners have gotten to him and he sees this as the only way to restore some sort of equity.

Let me share with you all a story I heard about the Gurkhas.

A Singaporean soldier was sent to Nepal to train with the Gurkhas to be paratroopers. One the first day of training, the instructor asked the Gurkhas and the Singaporean for volunteers to jump out of the plane. No Gurkhas put up their hands to volunteer. The Singaporean found it strange. These were the Gurkhas whose bravery were legendary and yet they didn’t dare to parachute out of a plane. The Singaporean thus decided to volunteer. The instructor seeing the Singaporean’s hand raised asked for more volunteers. Slowly, hesitantly, a few other Gurkhas raised their hands.

The instructor was satisfied. He then took out a parachute and said, “Each of you will be jumping out of the plane with this parachute”.

“Oh…we can use parachute, ” the Gurkhas started whispering among themselves.

It has been said that the Gurkhas are famous for their bravery and loyalty. Maybe they indeed are. Maybe more so than the average individual who decides that they want to be a soldier which by definition should be a different breed from guys who are conscripted.

However, history is filled with cautionary tales about empires that expand beyond their means and who rely on foreign talents/labour to sustain the expansion.

One case in point – the Romans. Edward Gibbon’s book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a good place to start.

Second case – The Persians versus the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon.

As the clatter of spears, swords and shields echoed through the valley, the Greeks had ensured that their best hoplites (heavily armed infantry) were on the flanks and that their ranks were thinned in the center. Persian battle doctrine dictated that their best troops, true Persians, fought in the center, while conscripts, pressed into service from tribute states, fought on the flanks. The Persian elite forces surged into the center of the fray, easily gaining the ascendancy. But this time it was a fatal mistake. The Persian conscripts whom the Hellenic hoplites faced on the flanks quickly broke into flight. The Greeks then made another crucial decision: Instead of pursuing their fleeing foes, they turned inward to aid their countrymen fighting in the center of the battle.

The weak links in the battle were the foreign conscripts.

You might then say, these foreign conscripts are different from paid mercenaries. True.

In this case, it would be instructive to see what Machiavelli has to say about this in The Prince which had roughly two chapters devoted to this issue.

From Chapter 12:

I say, therefore, that the arms with which a prince defends his state are either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were.

On auxiliaries which are more akin to the foreign talent / labor we used to grow our economy:

Therefore, let him who has no desire to conquer make use of these arms, for they are much more hazardous than mercenaries, because with them the ruin is ready made; they are all united, all yield obedience to others; but with mercenaries, when they have conquered, more time and better opportunities are needed to injure you; they are not all of one community, they are found and paid by you, and a third party, which you have made their head, is not able all at once to assume enough authority to injure you. In conclusion, in mercenaries dastardy is most dangerous; in auxiliaries, valour. The wise prince, therefore, has always avoided these arms and turned to his own; and has been willing rather to lose with them than to conquer with others, not deeming that a real victory which is gained with the arms of others.

The first bold portion makes me think Machiavelli would have expected the problems we currently have with the PRCs.

Lastly, why our economy’s growth is not going to be sustainable even if we are willing to sacrifice our social fabric:

I conclude, therefore, that no principality is secure without having its own forces; on the contrary, it is entirely dependent on good fortune, not having the valour which in adversity would defend it. And it has always been the opinion and judgment of wise men that nothing can be so uncertain or unstable as fame or power not founded on its own strength. And one’s own forces are those which are composed either of subjects, citizens, or dependants; all others are mercenaries or auxiliaries.

Singaporeans, be warned.

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Singaporeans Are No Better Than The Foreign Workers

The Christmas and New Year celebrations have been over for some time. Where were you celebrating? What does this even have anything to do with Singaporeans being no better than foreigners?

Let’s try to summarize the points from these four posts and its related comments:

1. http://singaporesundry.blogspot.com/2007/11/foreign-workers-causing-social-problem.html

2. http://tomorrow.sg/archives/2007/12/23/too_many_foreign_workers_in_sing.html

3. http://anonymousxwrites.blogspot.com/2007/12/too-many-foreign-workers-in-singapore.html (has excerpts from mrbiao’s post which is now protected.)

4. Straits Times coverage of the foreign workers hanging out issue.

Summary:

1. Foreign workers gather at where people are staying.
2. They tend to make a lot of noise.
3. Sometimes they consume alcohol.
4. Sometimes they get drunk.
5. Sometimes they fight.
6. Sometimes they urinate anywhere they want.
7. Sometimes they sleep anywhere they want.

8. Some of them stay in HDB flats.
9. The ones mentioned in the first post make a lot of noise when other people are trying to sleep.
10. They make noise by talking loudly.
11. They create noise by watching TV / DVD / VCD at the times when people are trying to sleep.

12. They like to congregate at public place like grass patches.
13. They tend to leave a lot of litter at those places.

Let’s talk about points 8 – 11 first. I have encountered such behavior recently and for a good period of my life, almost everyday for two years. It happened during National Service and more recently during my reservist. There will always be jokers who after lights off would persist with their conversations when everyone else is trying to sleep after a hard day of training. There will be slightly more considerate guys who will leave the bunk to talk to their gfs on their handphone but still no less irritating when they ‘patrol’ up and down the corridor.

The situation is similar. Like the foreign workers, we are isolated from our loved ones as well as made to live communally. Under similar situations, I have seen Singaporeans behave no better or worse than these foreign workers mentioned in this anecdote.

Let’s talk about point 12 – 13. Have you seen the NUS courts, where people play soccer and basketball, at the end of a Saturday? I guarantee that you will see empty drink cans and bottles scattered around the courts. Sure, not everyone who uses the courts is a Singaporean but a good number of us are. And a good number of us Singaporeans are responsible for the trash. Have you seen the Youth Park where our kids gather? Same thing.

Ok, to points 1 – 7 and how they are related to the recent Christmas and New Year celebrations. Did you observe the scenes outside the places where people celebrate? As an example, have you seen Zouk (where fights have occurred) towards the end of its opening hours? There are people stumbling out of the club drunk. There are people sleeping around the area. There are people puking around the area. There are people pissing around the area (hint – walk towards the bridge and park beside zouk). Sure, a lot of these stuff are happening on Zouk’s property. But a lot of it also happens on public property as well as private property like Grand Copthorne hotel. You think the hotel management has never ever been unhappy with the drunk party animals from Zouk? While it might not always be like that at Zouk, I guess it is easy to forget that Singaporeans also indulge in unruly, rowdy, intoxicated behavior. Of course, we just do it further away from where people stay.

I guess its because we can afford to. How lucky for us.

The thing is this. The foreign workers are just trying to enjoy their lives the way a lot of us do. They just can’t do it in the same places. They can’t do it in the areas we have nicely mentally zoned as the clubbing/drinking/pubbing/vice areas like Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Geylang. Unfortunately, that means they do it in places which pisses some Singaporeans off. I sympathize with the Singaporeans who have to put up with what happens around their residential areas. If a guy pissed outside my door, I would be quite angry too. If a guy is sleeping outside my house, I’ll be quite worried too.

Reading the posts, I can’t help but get the feeling the situation has been made to be a ‘us’ versus ‘them’ thing. In a way it is. But I don’t think it helps if we say things will only be better if the ‘them’ weren’t around or that although we need the ‘them’, things would be better for us if they behaved the way we wanted them to behave if not behave just like us. There is the feeling that our way of behaving is right and theirs is wrong.

At the end of the day, it isn’t about trying to educate them or change them. They aren’t animals to be tamed to be less of an affront to our sensibilities. It is about trying to help them find a space in Singapore where they can hang out without infringing on a person’s entitlement (privilege?) to live in a safe and clean environment away from such unruly, rowdy, intoxicated behavior.

Why aren’t the relevant people in the government and civil service doing more about this? They are the best people to help create such spaces.

Unless of course it’s because it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Anyone care to give these foreign workers the location of the prime residential estates in Singapore?

Of course, if you do, you’re just mean. Don’t sabo them lah.

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