Growing into new leaders of the SAF

Actions
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/b2abae15-2320-4524-a403-7e78db360ae7/11dec23_news1-photo1-thumbnail.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-b2abae15-2320-4524-a403-7e78db360ae7-oNn6mZ8 /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/b2abae15-2320-4524-a403-7e78db360ae7/11dec23_news1-photo1-thumbnail.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-b2abae15-2320-4524-a403-7e78db360ae7-oNn6mZ8 /web/portal/pioneer/article/regular-article-detail/people/2023-Q4/11dec23_news1
/web/portal/pioneer/article/regular-article-detail/people/2023-Q4/11dec23_news1
11dec23_news1
11 Dec 2023 | PEOPLE

Growing into new leaders of the SAF

//Story by Thrina Tham / Photos by Chua Soon Lye & courtesy of interviewees

English 华文

All their hard work in the past nine months paid off as 2LT Shafiq and 2LT Jasmine Ong graduated as newly commissioned officers on 9 Dec.

2LT Shafiq (centre) receiving his rank epaulettes from his parents during his commissioning parade on 9 Dec.

It was a bittersweet moment for 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Mohammad Shafiq Bin Mohd Karmin as he watched his batchmates commission earlier this year.

Though he was proud of his friends, he was not standing among them.

The 21-year-old had pinched his nerve during his Officer Cadet Course (OCC) Professional Term – that affected his left hand and arm – and was put out of course. For 2LT Shafiq, who is 1.59m tall and weighed just 50kg then, a Full Battle Order would have been close to half his weight.

"I was quite sad and disappointed, and felt so physically and mentally incapable," he recalled.

The infantryman decided to buck up and bulk up. He trained up his endurance through running and cycling; and gained about 7kg.

Though 2LT Shafiq doubted his ability to be an infantry officer due to his smaller build, he found confidence through training and support from his family.
2LT Shafiq (centre) took part in duathlons as part of ramping up his running and cycling training regime. [Photo courtesy of 2LT Shafiq]

He also credited his family for motivating him. He was inspired by his father who serves as a Regular in the Singapore Police Force; and wanted to commission to honour his late grandfather, who passed away early this year.

"My grandfather told me to put in my best effort in whatever I do in life," said 2LT Shafiq.

It took him three months to recover and he re-joined the OCC this June – a year after enlisting.

On 9 Dec, he was among 460 cadets to be commissioned as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) at the SAFTI Military Institute.

Newly minted officers of the 131/23 OCC tossing their peak caps skywards in celebration of their commissioning.

"I feel quite proud to be able to stand in the SAFTI parade square after a long year… with my platoon mates and face our families and the president," said 2LT Shafiq, who will be joining 8th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.

The graduands comprised 368 from the Singapore Army, 60 from the Republic of Singapore Navy and 32 from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam reviewed the parade for the first time as head of state.

Mr Tharman (centre) reviewing the commissioning parade.
Addressing the cadets, Mr Tharman said that they shouldered the heavy responsibility of building a sense of purpose in those under their charge.

Addressing the cadets, Mr Tharman said that the security challenges of today are complex and best resolved by strengthening defence relations.

He added that the strength of Singapore's military lies in its people: "As young Officers-to-be, you will have heavy responsibilities on your shoulders.

You have to build a strong sense of purpose in the men and women under your charge, and inspire them to believe in our country and armed forces."

Though 2LT Shafiq had doubted his ability as he re-joined OCC, he soon found confidence in his own leadership style.

"I learnt from the instructors that to be a leader is to influence (your peers) in your own way. I would try to lead by example and always give my all," he said.

2LT Ong had to balance a leadership position while adapting to the rigours of of the Navy during her course.

For fellow graduand 2LT Jasmine Ong, the Naval Foundation Term at the start of her course proved to be her most challenging stint as she was also given a leadership role then.

"We were taught a variety of skills and knowledge, including navigation and seamanship. Having to cope with all the new info while adapting to the rigours of the course was new to me," said the 19-year-old.

2LT Ong (first row, fourth from right) with her division mates during their MSTD sail earlier this year. [Photo courtesy of 2LT Ong]

All the hard work during her Naval Foundation Term and 33-day Midshipmen Sea Training Deployment (MSTD) was worth it when she caught the starry night sky while reporting for bridge watchkeeping duty.

"In that moment I came to the realisation that this is where I want to be," said 2LT Ong, whose father was also a former Navy Regular.

"Even though what I'm doing now may seem insignificant since we're still at our training stage, sailing on MSTD made me understand the bigger picture of what the Navy does.

"This hit home on what it means to choose a career as a naval officer."

Suggested Reading
From radio waves to sea waves
From radio waves to sea waves
PEOPLE
01-Apr-24

In the last of PIONEER's "From Desk to Field" series this year, we speak to former YES 933 DJ CPT Henry Law who left the media industry to pursue his naval calling.

From NZ to S'pore, from ah boy to officer
From NZ to S'pore, from ah boy to officer
PEOPLE
11-Mar-24

Enlisting for National Service (NS) can be a daunting prospect for any young man. For 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Wescott Lee Rui Zhang, it was even tougher as he had spent most of his childhood and teenage years living abroad in Canada and New Zealand.

Finding their bearings amid choppy seas
Cover story
Finding their bearings amid choppy seas
OPS & TRAINING
18-Dec-23

A new Navy series follows a group of aspiring naval officers and engineers as they sail for over a month in their first-ever sea deployment.

Charting her own path as an officer
Charting her own path as an officer
PEOPLE
09-Sep-23

Inspired by her father to join the military, LTA Deepa Syaama Arul has found her own calling in a different Service.

New officers inspired to serve
New officers inspired to serve
PEOPLE
10-Jun-23

A trip to Changi Naval Base during his Basic Military Training (BMT) days turned out to be a defining moment for 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Daniel Elfian Bin Mohd Nasir's life.

He's set to become first African-Singaporean Guardsman
He's set to become first African-Singaporean Guardsman
PEOPLE
11-Mar-23

The first in his family to be commissioned as an officer, 2LT Haniel Humphrey Muze may soon become the first Singaporean of African descent to earn the khaki beret.

FROM FLYING IN THE SKIES TO LEADING ON THE GROUND
FROM FLYING IN THE SKIES TO LEADING ON THE GROUND
PEOPLE
10-Sep-22

As an air stewardess at Scoot, Lieutenant (LTA) Cindy Loo used to work in the skies and travel to many different countries almost every day. However, she gave it all up in 2021 to pursue her aspirations of becoming a soldier.

Firm role model to future leaders
Cover story
Firm role model to future leaders
PEOPLE
02-Sep-22

He was once "the fierce one" in the Army Deployment Force. Now, 3WO Muhd Hidhir finds a balance between firm and friendly as an OCS instructor.

African-Singaporean on his way to becoming an officer Feature
African-Singaporean on his way to becoming an officer
PEOPLE
04-Aug-22