(on hiatus)

3 October 2015:

Quick point: two lives.

On the way back from camp, I heard a radio programme which interviewed two TV producers that went to ground zero of the Indonesian forest fires, which has been causing the much-hated haze. Their recounts were terrifying.

One of them was talking about how Indonesian schoolchildren were without masks in PSI 1500 environment. When asked, they replied, "so what (else can be done)?" Such is the life that these children go through.

Meanwhile, when I opened my Twitter feed, I see someone complaining about having university exams on a Saturday. Sure, I get the logic. This would eat into your weekend, resulting in a loss of time to cultivate your social life.

But hey, if the haze worsens, these children may even lose their lives.


27 September 2015:

I should count my blessings.

After a few absences, I finally met up with I and gang a few days ago. We ate and talked for more than three hours. It was just like back in secondary school, where we first met as we were involved in organising a school event.

The original organising committee had more people than that, but I guess the few of us stuck together while the rest faded out. All this while, I've been the passive and unparticipating member, due to circumstances. Thankfully, they've always tried to include me despite all that.

For this, I am very grateful and appreciative of them. By now I have come to terms that I am the type of person with too many acquaintances and too little friends. This gives a false sense of popularity and security. But, when I do need help, I can barely find anyone.


During the meet-up, I shared about recent happenings in her life. It was a shock to hear of certain details, which I would not elaborate. My first response upon hearing that was shock but I remained calm and did not respond much.

T asked why I did not offer consolation and/or advice. It was because (1) given my lack of experience, there was nothing much I could advise and (2) I fear that I may again say the wrong things and upset I more, even though I meant well.

However, I am still deeply appreciative of I that she bothered to share this with me. This was highly personal and it was perfectly understandable if she chose not to tell me; I would not have blamed her, as I know I am not as close to her anymore.


This past week, though only three days long, was rather tough for me. Now that I am confirmed in my current posting, I started receiving more work and responsibilities. I was in very bad spirits the whole time, especially when YS took leave on Wed and 'left me alone'.

However, the meeting made me realise that all these are nothing compared to what others may be facing. In fact, I was already more fortunate, as I have a confirmed posting. Furthermore, I get along well with almost everyone.

Things could have been worse if I remained as an SIT, or if the whole office hates me. So although I do have struggles, they are surmountable ones and I should stop whining and focus instead on overcoming them.


19 September 2015:

How I feel about my peers getting their ranks in a few days’ time.

Just now, I went for a run with J and had dinner with him. Us being NSFs, naturally our main only topic of conversation would be army life. So, as per usual, he would rant about his life in an infantry unit while I share about my life in SCS.

Previously, he mentioned about how his section commander was a Charlie Bravo (did my best with the euphemism). Today, he gave tons more examples of why that is the case. However, I was not convinced.

In all fairness, some of the things mentioned sound like what I would do if I were a section commander. No doubt it’s stifling, but like it or not, that’s army for you. It is meant to be that regimental and gruelling.

Of course, there was once or twice when even I felt that his sergeant was being too much. This made me think of the upcoming batch of graduands of the Specialist Cadet Course, who will become section commanders pretty soon.


On 22 Sept, three days from now, the 24th batch of specialist cadets (SCT) will graduate from Specialist Cadet School (SCS). This graduation parade is particularly momentous as the graduands will be in No. 1, instead of No. 4.

Previously, SCTs have always graduated in No. 4, the ‘default’ army attire that almost every soldier wears. No. 1 is usually associated with officer cadets (OCT), as they wear the dress during their Commissioning Parade.

Now, however, subsequent batches of SCTs get to graduate in No. 1, which is the ceremonial dress of the SAF and is the most prestigious. For making history, I’m sure the graduands are feeling exceptionally delighted this time.

(L) An example of the SAF No. 1 dress. Note, however, that the most graduands will have considerably less badges and no red sash. Also, the rank shown here is that of master sergeant, not third sergeant. (R) An example of the SAF No. 4 dress. Note, however, that most graduands will have considerably less badges. Also, the rank shown here is that of captain, not third sergeant. (L,R) Beret colour depends on the individual soldier’s formation.


Having grasped the significance of this parade, and having grown fond of parades, I’m certainly very looking forward to it, despite not being in it. I was a SCT but dropped out in pro term, as covered in my previous post.

Nevertheless, I feel very happy for my ex-platoon mates, especially those deserving ones. Some truly exemplify the spirit of the Warrant Officer and Specialist (WOSPEC) Corps – that of warfighter, trainer, leader.

Yet, at the other end of the spectrum, are those who scrapped through the course and managed to graduate simply because of kind assessors and a helpful section (which no doubt helped the team score).

I honestly had hoped that these people would be taken out-of-course. Not because of my jealousy, but because I really think they are incapable of being responsible of men if they cannot even handle themselves well.

But of course, I’m in no position to talk, since I wasn’t even able to complete the course, unlike them. Also, sometimes I feel it’s a pity for others who OOC-ed due to injury, despite being so much better in leadership than those who scrapped through.

Upon realising that something was wrong with myself physically, I had two options: tong and carry on with the course, or sound-off by reporting sick, which would take me out-of-course.

Eventually, I decided to do the latter. Reason being, firstly, health is more important. Yes, I am serving two years of full-time national service. However, two years is nothing compared to what I have beyond the two years.

I really did not want a case where I managed to graduate as a 3SG, but then sustain permanent injury or aggravate my condition such that healing would be near-impossible. To me, it’s just not worth it.

Also, as I may have explained previously, I was deeply aware of my incompetency as a potential infantry section commander. I might have excelled if I were posted to other vocations, but all this guesswork is honestly futile.

As much as I am upset by how MINDEF posted me to infantry, I have stopped questioning such a decision and decided to move on. I did try to stick on with the course for about two to three weeks, but things didn’t seem to improve.

With these two main factors, I reported sick and got taken out-of-course. My post-OOC journey was documented in the previous post, so no point repeating what happened since then.


(At this point I do realise I am nowhere near the topic of this post. So I shall return.)

Actually, what I wanted to convey was that not all specialists are qualified and competent (officers too). Unfortunately, the system isn’t flawless. Hence, these less-than-qualified cadets are still able to graduate.

Since there’s no way to properly sieve out such people, I guess one can only hope that these people will take on less essential command roles, so that active battalions take section commanders who top their cohort.

Command is a responsibility and it involves the trust of men beneath you. If these people were to command a section in an active battalion, the section may fall apart due to lousy leadership.


(I do realise that I may come across as immensely jealous of the graduands, hence resorting to ‘smear’ methods. But, believe it or not, I am in no way jealous. I fully understand that I do not deserve to graduate, given my condition and abilities.)


In my last post I mentioned about how I still wish to become a specialist. I’m glad that I am indeed given such a chance. As of this week, I will be under-studying to become a training specialist in HQ, Specialist and Warrant Officer Institute (SWI).

Although SWI encompasses five command schools for the WOSPEC corps, I am only in charge of SCS foundation term programmes. As much as I would like to share more, I don’t think it’s ideal in case I breach any secrecy clauses (although my work is nowhere near secret level).

Having been through two months of uncertainty, now I am simply contented with being offered a posting which I am confident that I can manage, even though the journey will not be an easy one.

And, by a twist of fate, it seems like my NSF life (excluding BMT) will be affirmed to one unit: SWI. With pride we lead.



From Singapore. 18 years of age. Blogs as and when inspiration comes, in British English, Traditional Chinese and (hopefully) Russian. Interests (more or less in order): forensics, theatre, Taiji, modern world history, typography (including style and grammar), visual design, Chinese language and literature, singing, sociology, United Kingdom, Apple products.


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