Pioneer batch of DIS specialists graduateAmong the DIS graduands is 3SG Philemon Tei, who had to cope with the loss of a loved one during training but eventually emerged as a Silver Bayonet recipient.
// Story by Thrina Tham
// Photos by Lionel Lee
While undergoing his training as a specialist cadet in the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS), 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Philemon Tei received the sad news of his grandmother passing.
"My grandmother was a quiet and strong lady. She used to shower me with food and as she aged and I grew older, our roles swapped – I started getting food for her and eating with her.
"When I knew of her passing, I was not ready. But…I received warmth and support from the organisation and my peers," he said.
The 21-year-old missed a day of his training while on compassionate leave. It was stressful as his training included back-to-back training missions.
"On the first day back, I had to handle some very intensive intelligence research. It was tough for me to juggle dealing with the grief and training… The high level of information flow was (also) something that I struggled with," he said.
3SG Tei stayed back to catch up on his lessons. Thankfully, he had the support of his batchmates, who accompanied him.
He managed to excel in his course and later emerged as a Silver Bayonet recipient, graduating in the first batch of DIS specialists on 17 Nov.
As an Intelligence Research Specialist, 3SG Tei will lead and plan the conduct of research towards safeguarding Singapore against digital threats.
From dropout to distinguished graduate
Fellow newly minted specialist 3SG Lukman Nur Hakim Bin Azizian was filled with doubts when he was first offered to enter the Specialist Cadet Course (SCC).
Having dropped out midway while pursuing his Film, Sound and Video diploma, the 23-year-old felt that he was neither confident nor competent enough to take on a leadership role.
But his brother, four years his senior, convinced him otherwise.
"He told me that failures can…also be a positive reminder. He said that I had told myself I would try to do better, so this was the time to fulfil my words," said 3SG Lukman.
He not only did better, he even topped his course as a Silver Bayonet recipient. The NSF will go on to serve as a Company Quarter Master Sergeant for 8th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
3SG Lukman added the 22-week SCC taught him to be resilient and resourceful.
One of the highlights of his course included supporting an outfield exercise, where he had to source for signal sets, concertina wires, and over 60 jerry cans.
"If I make mistakes, my instructors don't say, 'You should be punished', they say 'What do you think you can do better?' This helped me a lot," said 3SG Lukman, who plans to re-enter polytechnic to pursue a diploma in Community Development after his national service.
While he used to shy away from leadership or responsibility, he now finds himself taking a lot more initiative.
"Now, when I see something that needs to be done, I will do it – even if it's something small like cleaning up the stores when it's messy.
"Even if it's not my job, I'll still do it because I can."
A total of 795 cadets graduated as Specialists and Military Experts of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) at a parade held at Pasir Laba Camp.
Of them, 656 came from the Army, 34 from the Navy, 57 from the Air Force and 48 from DIS.
Addressing the cadets, Minister of State for Education and Manpower, Ms Gan Siow Huang, reminded them of their responsibilities as leaders in the SAF.
Ms Gan, who last held the rank of Brigadier-General as Chief of Staff - Air Staff, said: "As the men and women under your charge will look to you for guidance and leadership, aim to be a role model for them."
"Remember to lead with empathy, care for your people, and ensure that the necessary measures are in place to ensure their safety and well-being. By so doing, I am confident that you and your teams will achieve mission success and uphold training standards," she added.