Keep serving, keep contributingMore than 350 NSmen and their employers gathered at rededication ceremonies across Singapore on 30 Jun to reaffirm their commitment to national defence.
// Story by Benita Teo / Photos by Kenneth Lin
At 52 years old, you can say that 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) (NS) Subash Lazar is an old bird at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day Combined Rededication Ceremony (CRC).
The Brigade Sergeant Major of 6th Division Service Support Command still finds deep meaning participating in the annual ceremony, as it's a chance to show his commitment to serve as an Operationally Ready National Serviceman (NSman).
"This is my 12th year volunteering, and I went from being a ROVER (Reservist on Voluntary Extended Reserve Service) to an NS (National Service) Volunteer. I see the benefits of extending because I want to share my experience and knowledge with the junior officers and commanders. So I believe that as long as we're fit and healthy and our jobs allow it, we should strive to extend (our NS obligations).
"Instead of asking me why I'm still serving at 52, my question is, why stop at 40?"
Reaffirming their dedication to serve
On 30 Jun, 1WO (NS) Subash joined his fellow brothers-in-arms at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) Building to commemorate SAF Day and reaffirm their loyalty and dedication to the Singapore's defence.
Dressed in their No. 4 uniforms, they proudly recited the SAF pledge and sang the national anthem together.
About 350 NSmen from 228 companies gathered at four locations across the island for the SAF Day CRCs. They were joined by their employers and civilian colleagues who participated in the pledge-recitation and took the chance to learn more about their co-workers' NS experiences.
This year's CRCs are organised by civilian partner organisations, which participate on a voluntary basis. The other three CRC locations are Temasek Polytechnic, Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, and Auditorium @ NUHS Tower Block.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen officiated the ceremony at SCCCI. Speaking to the 51 NSmen from 74 participating companies, he reminded them not to take Singapore's peace and harmony for granted, especially in light of growing challenges and tensions around the world.
He also highlighted the important role that soldiers like them played in keeping the SAF strong: "Equipment, facilities and platforms in the SAF can improve, as long as you give us support and as long as the government gives us resources for the SAF, but without the fighting spirit and commitment of our SAF soldiers, all these equipment and platforms remain just mere steel or concrete.
"To keep Singapore an oasis of peace and harmony, to deter aggression, to deal with present and new threats, we will always need a strong SAF. But a strong SAF can only be built up through good soldiers."
Standing with NSman employees
Dr Hwang Yee Cheau, 63, Chief Executive Officer of TP Dental Surgeons, supported her son when he was a Full-time National Serviceman by emphasising the importance of his duty in serving the nation and buying him books to motivate him.
He is now 30 and an NSman, and she is heartened to see that he had enjoyed his time in NS working in supplies, and became lifelong friends with his NS buddies.
As an employer, Dr Hwang continues to show unwavering supported to her NSman dentists when they have to go for In-Camp Training (ICT).
"We have five out of 25 dentists who are NSmen and go back for ICT every year. We've never had issues with them taking time off work to go. While they're away, their female colleagues will take over seeing their patients.
"They can go without worries, knowing their responsibilities are taken care of. And we also make sure they don't have backlog to worry about when they are back," she explained.
1WO (NS) Subash, who is a principal at APSN Delta Senior School, also sees the importance of helping his teachers and staff attend their ICT with peace of mind.
"I reassure them that they don't have to worry about school, there will be others to cover for them, and redeploy the staff to help them with major projects or events. If they are preoccupied with work, their minds will be split between work and NS.
"As bosses and leaders, we are responsible to see that their mind is only on one place, which is the unit they are serving (while in ICT)," he explained.
Standing together with the NSmen at SCCCI as they recited the SAF Pledge, Dr Hwang felt a deep appreciation for the SAF's role in keeping Singapore secure, so that businesses can prosper and thrive.
"I feel so proud today, knowing that the SAF is keeping Singapore safe. We know that Singapore is small, and we are in a vulnerable position geopolitically. It's a good reminder that, thanks to the SAF and NS, as well as the sacrifices that the families of NSmen make, we can enjoy what we have today. We must all play our part."
Commemorating SAF Day
On 1 July, President Halimah Yacob officiated the SAF Day Parade at SAFTI Military Institute, which was attended by more than 2,000 national servicemen and Regulars.
The Trooping of Colours ceremony was carried out at the parade to welcome the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS) into the force. This year marked the first time DIS was participating in the parade since its inauguration last October.
At the parade, President Halimah presented the State Colours to this year's Best Combat Unit, while Dr Ng presented 30 Best Unit and Best NS Unit awards.