Actor Aloysius Pang’s death has added to the list of deaths in the name of National Service.
You know why his accident and death is getting Singaporeans riled up? It’s not just because he’s a celebrity, but because we did not expect people to go for 2 weeks reservist training and die.
Before Aloysius’ accident on 19 Jan, people were already unhappy with conscription because every Singaporean son is precious to us and there haven been little closure on previous deaths (CFC Dave Lee, 3SG Gavin Chan, CFC Liu Kai). Without closure, every mother and father with a son can’t help but worry as their child approaches the enlistment age – the age where you as a parent have NO CHOICE but to hand over your precious life and blood to the state. Yes, the mother remembers that it was not so long ago that she first held him in her arms, when he took his first steps, said his first words, graduated from Kindergarten… you get what I mean.
With Aloysius’ accident and death, henceforth, every mother, father, girlfriend, wife, daughter and son of an ORNSmen who has to go for reservist training will lose sleep. Oh I exaggerate you say… oh really?
It’s no longer just “see you on Friday” as the guy may put it when he says goodbye. Before Aloysius’ accident, did we think we would send our sons, boyfriends and husbands back for in-camp training and think that we may never see them again? Did we as a nation forget that there will always be dangers, even if the battlefield is but a mock one?
This means that the lifespan of worrying about of NS, in the eyes of the people, especially mothers and wives, has effectively lengthened by more than 10 folds. No longer 2 years thereabouts, but until they either finish their cycle, or get military release at 45 years old.
I think this post by Memedef puts it across the best.
Indeed, the meaning of “going back for reservist” has changed forever.
As the nation mourns the loss of a young man, we couldn’t help but also notice a disturbing phenomenon.
There have been “swift and decisive” replies to comments online that questioned if safety protocols need to be reviewed or if heads should be rolled – genuine questions from concerned citizens who have a vested interest – have been swiftly countered by a bunch of “die-hard SAF fans”. Some of them have profiles that shows you nothing (Mindef keyboard warriors?) while some of them have photos of themselves in uniforms on their profiles, aka Regulars. For the latter, we wonder if they have gotten the green light to comment all over social media.
Here’s some. We considered masking their names, but we wonder why we should since they’ve been so blatant, so we didn’t.
There is a time and place for everything. As a nation grieves, perhaps they ought to use a bit of restraint in their comments and rebuttals. Yes, even if the comments are on your Ministry’s Facebook page.
Someone’s son has died. We know you love the SAF, you can scream that out in the showers, we don’t care (but your neighbours would probably call police). We care that you delivered sons back to us lying cold in body bags. Sons that were loved and cared for, and painstakingly raised and groomed with all the love their mothers and fathers could ever give. The dead cannot be brought back to life, so whatever you say is just B*S*. Perhaps you should be defending Singapore against trolls from Up North other countries instead of blindly trying to defend a SAF that has, no matter which angle you look at it, lost a life yet again. Even when fingers are not pointed but questions are aired, these keyboard warriors comes guns blazing. It’s gotten to a point that you can smell them coming. Just type “accountability” and “People at the top should resign” in one of the comments section. See them come like jungle mosquitoes. Give us a break already.
Frankly, Singaporeans must be given space to grieve and to raise questions about what is being done to prevent deaths and challenge the government to re-think the system. This is a Singapore that we all own. It is not the Government’s Singapore, it is not Mindef’s Singapore. It is OUR Singapore. A system that worked in the 80s may not be the best system now. Who knows? Singaporeans want to see something concrete done so that no more sons will be needlessly taken away from us. Let Singaporeans and the aggrieved have a good closure. Let us know that these boys have not died in vain. And more importantly, assure every parent, wife and child out there that there will be no more deaths. Try your 1000% to prevent accidents.
Of course, it is easy for IBs someone to say, “You say so easy, you join the SAF and do lah!”
We never said it was easy.
We are asking Mindef and SAF, supposedly filled with very bright people, to do their difficult job and do it well. Hack away at bad practices and habits, improve processes, tighten gaps. Overhaul the system if need be. THINK. IT. THROUGH. That’s all this nation is asking for. And if you cannot do the job, then let the next better person do it.
It is time for Mindef to acknowledge that they have not fulfilled the unspoken promise of looking after our sons. And apologize for it.
Since there is a COI, we hope that the COI be done without fear or favour. Otherwise, Aloysius’ death may well be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
P.S: Minister Ng Eng Hen, when Cpl Kok died, Minister Shanmugam faced the media like a man. Perhaps you should have done the same at the onset as well. We really didn’t appreciate hearing breaking news from your FB. #justsaying