Power Mother-and-Son Duo: Meet ME5 Aw Lay Yan and CPT Lee Chong Hon!

Power Mother-and-Son Duo: Meet ME5 Aw Lay Yan and CPT Lee Chong Hon!

It runs in their blood! Recently, we had an opportunity to speak to recent Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC) Command and Staff Course (CSC) graduate, ME5 Aw Lay Yan, and her son, CPT Lee Chong Hon, both of whom are RSAF personnel. Read on to find out more about ME5 Aw's recent achievements in the CSC (Executive), and how both mother-and-son serve with pride and love.

Hi guys! Mind giving a quick introduction of yourselves?

LY: I am Military Expert 5 Aw Lay Yan, an Air Force Engineer by vocation, and I am currently Command Chief 9 Air Engineering and Logistics Group. I have been in service for 34 years. I am also a mother of 2 boys, aged 22 and 24 years old and my elder boy, Chong Hon, is an Air Traffic Controller in the Air Force too.

CH: Hey all, I'm CPT Chong Hon and I am an Air Warfare Officer (Air Traffic Control) by vocation. I am currently in 203 SQN.

Lay Yan, congratulations on your Merit Book Prize for your Analysis of Defence and Security Policy essay! To what would you attribute your success?

LY: This is really an achievement for me, and the ability to complete this pinnacle course and achieve the prize is not to my own credit but is also due to the support from all my coursemates and especially my syndicate members. They have really helped me in my learning, and their friendship and the bonds that we built through the course is something that I will treasure. The rigorous syllabus of the course has also sharpened my critical thinking skills, widened my regional security perspectives and enriched my leadership skills. The collaboration and interaction with officers from the other Services has enhanced my learning experience through their sharing on their perspectives and experiences.

CH: As her son, I am very proud of her for overcoming numerous challenges to successfully complete the course. After watching her toil day and night doing research and writing her assignments, I am glad that her efforts have been recognised with this prize.

Chief of Air Force, MG Kelvin Khong, presenting the graduation certificate to Lay Yan.

What was the greatest challenge Lay Yan faced in this course?

LY: Being a through-train Military Expert, I did not have the opportunity to do much academic writing in my course of career. Hence, I found it challenging to submit numerous essays and discussion pieces during the course. However, with guidance from my lecturers and Directing Staff as well as countless discussion sessions, I gained new-found insights and honed my critical thinking skills.

CH: I have to agree on that. As a through-train Air Force Engineer with a degree in computing, I knew that she has not had many opportunities to do academic writing over the course of her career and her studies. Moreover, while she attended the course, she still had to carry out her duties as a Command Chief. Despite these challenges, she managed to balance all her commitments and still submit strong essays, which I was very impressed by. Her adaptability and resourcefulness allowed her to pick up the skills required in academic writing quickly, which she began to apply in earnest in her thinking and assignments.

Lay Yan, Chong Hon and their family members at Chong Hon's Officer Cadet Commissioning Parade.

Lay Yan, do you think you are a role model for Chong Hon in terms of your career? Does he come to you for career advice?

LY: In their growing years, my children have grown accustomed to me being frequently recalled to respond to maintenance needs on a 24/7 basis. They thus had to learn to be independent and responsible for their actions at a young age. I have brought them to many RSAF Family Days to explain to them the role and mission of the Air Force. RSAF has allowed me to continue to pursue my academic qualifications from Advance Diploma of Aerospace and Management to a Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technology, and I hope that excelling in my lifelong learning serves to inculcate a similar passion for learning in him.

He did come to me during his NS days when he decided that he was interested to sign on as a regular and wanted to know more about the Air Warfare Officer vocation. I did not impose my wishes on him, however I introduced him to some of our in-service personnel so that he could speak to them, and he finally made his own decision to be an Air Force Officer.

CH: When I was younger, I often woke up to find that in the dead of the night, my mother had been called back to work. It often puzzled me since not many of my peers had parents who were on a 24-hour standby. As I grew older, I began to understand what she was doing. She was part of the team that dedicated themselves to defending Singapore. Because I saw her dedication firsthand, it was not difficult for me to consider the RSAF when I finished school.

ME5 Lay Yan, what are you looking forward to achieve in the future beyond CSC?

The various concepts of critical, creative and systems thinking will help me to frame and understand issues better and make more informed decisions. I hope that with my newfound skills, I will be able to propose viable solutions or improve situations for the better. I can apply the different leadership styles in different contexts to influence my juniors to commit themselves to bring the best out of them and contribute to the RSAF. I want to continue to be able to be a role model for my sons and juniors to always do their best, have the will to learn, and be a good team player.

Lay Yan and Chong Hon at his Officer Cadet Commissioning Parade.

Chong Hon and Lay Yan, what do you hope to achieve in your career in the future?

CH: I am inspired by my mother's passion for lifelong learning and energetic attitude. At every stage of her life, she has continually sought to learn more and improve upon herself. Her tenacity and drive for excellence is something which I wish to emulate over to course of my career. Moreover, she is an incredibly empathetic leader, and cares deeply about the people around her. I hope to positively impact the people around me as well.

LY: One final thing I would like to share with Chong Hon is that there are always ups and downs in one's career. In order to do your best in whatever you do, look to yourself to uphold the demands and standards you want to achieve. Be empathetic, and have passion in whatever you do. As for myself I hope that with my newfound skills from CSC, I will be able to propose viable solutions or improve situations for the better. I want to continue to be able to be a role model for my sons and juniors to always do their best, have the will to learn, and be a good team player.