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1 May 2017:

一成不變是好是壞?

(很久沒用中文寫博客了吧……)

上個博文已經是兩個多月前的事了,當時雄赳赳氣昂昂地捍衛了國民服役這個念頭。

在那之後,似乎找不到寫作的靈感。或,老實說,是偶爾的靈感被懶惰給沖走了。

就如那篇博文發表的五天後,其實就發生了一名士兵死亡的事件。當時網上的言論大概有兩種:一是那些「過來人」,批評如今的士兵們弱不禁風,受不了訓練;二是一些媽媽們(或其他心疼者),紛紛表示關心,擔心自己的兒子如果身體比較虛弱,日後會否如此下場。

可是,其實死亡的這名士兵是個正規軍人(即非國民服役人員;這是他的職業),而且他是在自己進行的體能訓練當中不幸身亡。不過,網上發表評論的人哪會管那麼多呢?趕緊開炮,能口無遮攔的哄誰就哄!

為此我當時亦是憤憤不平,剪貼了幾個留言想要加以評論,洋洋灑灑寫了近2000千字(英文)。那時已經凌晨時分了,所以打算說結尾留到隔天再完結它。

結果,那是兩個月前的事了…………

不過草稿我還留著,說不定日後靈感又來了我會寫完它然後發表?



自從兩個月前,我的生活裡沒什麼大改變。只是現在開始上班了。上班的地點、性質我就不分享了,雖然它絕對不比當兵時那麼神秘,不過還是別說比較好。想說的只是我挺開心,能夠通過這份工作間接的服務大眾,而且是我中意的領域裡。

比起當兵時的環境,目前這裡好多了。當初我剛開始的時候會擔心會不會歷史重演,又要被陷入劇毒的辦公室政治裡頭。幸好,目前為止根本沒有那樣的事情,令我很是欣慰。

當然,政治還是有的,不過的確少了很多。而且我留意到各位同事基本上都夠成熟,儘管不喜歡彼此,還是會在上班時間專業地溝通,不會因私人理由而影響辦公環境。

對此我有三個初步見解,為何這裡的環境沒那麼差:

第一、這裡的領導比較沒那麼疏忽。當時的領導非常的腐爛,導致幾乎「無法無天」的情況發生,只剩包括我在內的幾個人在支撐著。本想說離開了上個機構就來寫一個長篇博文,述說各種領導錯誤。後來我想想,基於保密理由,我還是別透漏太多了。萬一不小心透漏什麼被認為是機密的(儘管恨不可能)東西,那就麻煩了。於是乎,我一年多來看到的,就讓我自己學習、領悟就好了。看到了那麼多,只希望自己以後不會變成那樣的領導。

第二、在這裡你能背炒魷魚。我想,國民服役的其中一個缺點就是你不能被炒魷魚。甚至說,要是能被炒的話,說不定人們都爭著要被炒呢。而如果把行為不良好的士兵重新分配到另一個組織也不行,太多的人事安排,從大局看行不通。為此,有些士兵便會仗著這點來「逍遙法外」。再加上一個無能/不忍心的領導,肯定能讓他們輕鬆度過。不過,真正的工作環境中,哪有如此好事?工作表現如果不佳的話,可以即可被炒魷魚。為此,大多數的員工們再怎樣也不敢太放肆,除非自己也不很想留下來了。

第三、這裡是正常的上班環境。總覺得在國民服役期間做辦公室工作有些怪怪的(不過我沒在抱怨哦)。一群(大多數)不到21歲的年輕男士在辦公室裡工作,各個都沒什麼類似經驗,難免會有衝突等的發生。不過到了「外面的世界」就不同了:那裡,大多數的上班族都是成熟了的,出了大學/理工學院,清楚知道自己在謀生,認清自己的事業目標。為此,他們更會妥善處理辦公室的人情世故。

當然,我也知道:我也許只是僥倖,第一份正式的工作就遇到如此好的環境。我也了解,其他的辦公室也許沒有那麼好,也許政治玩得更加殘忍。無論如何,即使是那樣,目前我都很感激自己有如此的工作環境。雖然工錢算起來比較少,工作偶爾會煩悶,不過我清楚知道自己算是幸運的,因此也沒什麼嫌棄的餘地。



說回正題。出了工作,我的人生裡真的沒什麼其他的改變/發展了。於是說,自己在懷疑如此的一成不變是好是壞?其實我每天的作息都挺有規律了,不過出了工作外,其餘的時間好像在浪費著,沒什麼有意義的過著。

當然,還是有在觀看各個連續劇,如《傲骨賢妻》。這部劇我快到尾聲了。最後一系列好像品質下降了,一些評論也都這麼認為。不過我還是沒放棄它,繼續觀看,反正剩下少過20集了。即使爛,也給它爛到完吧。

還有的就是《夢魘殺魔》,我也快結束了。不知為何評論基本上都挺差的,反倒我看得還算津津有味。就像第六系列的結尾我很是享受(只有一兩點的不接受),可是評論卻把它批評得一無是處似的。也許我對罪案型劇集特別心軟?

等到這兩個劇集看完了,我又要找找其他什麼劇集可以追看了。我個人的怪癖就是看那些完全結束了的劇集,為此目前人們瘋狂追看的我暫且放一邊不參與。(原因是因為我不想看完一個系列後要等上一年才能繼續,我想每天看一集,直到看完為止。)



也不說是自己老了還是什麼的,只是最近會越來越珍惜身邊的朋友。

我知道自己的個性不是最「正常」的,為此還是又幾個比較親的朋友跟我保持聯繫,甚至感動。我也知道自己有時也不是個稱職的朋友,付出少於得到的。因此,我時不時會提醒自己要珍惜朋友的付出、關心。

日前一位相識多年的朋友主動和我聊天,我老實說特別開心。我們大概是中學之後就失去聯繫了,最多只是在社交媒體上稍微幾句,沒有深入談天之類的。

也許你會覺得——既然你會想念某些朋友,為何不主動約人出來呢?

因為,也許只是我的焦慮作祟,不過我是覺得某些在失去聯絡後,其實沒有想和我保持聯繫。

前些時候偶然碰到__,他見到我時看來很是開心。最後道別時還說道:「下次要再約出來哦」

過不久,我主動約他出來,至少兩次吧,可是都被推掉了。

我在網上曾經讀過,如果有人約你出來,而你其實想要赴約不過真的沒辦法,下次應該換你主動約人了。我當然不是強制每個人都一定要這麼做——也許他真的只是沒空、又懶得約我。無論如何,就當做沒緣分吧。如果有緣,我們日後還會見面的。如果沒緣,我三番五次約他,只會更加難堪。

於是乎,我大多數都沒去約人了。也許這個道理很偏激,但目前我就這麼行事吧。可能日後我會更加「不要臉」地約人,說不定?

就這樣。


15 February 2017:

In defence of defence.

Today is Total Defence Day. On 15 Feb, 1942, the first day of the Lunar New Year, Singapore was surrendered by the British to the Japanese, thus commencing the Japanese Occupation for the next 1,305 days.

The concept of Total Defence began in 1984, comprising of the following defences: military, social, economic, civil and psychological.

I don’t have flowery theses to offer, no defence policies to put forth. But on this day, I would like to justify the need for defence, especially military defence.

~

Apart from the official narrative of NS, I would say that the general sentiment towards it is negative. Many would rather not serve, especially JC and poly males that creep closer to enlistment every day.

I would say that’s rather understandable. I mean, if one could choose, who would want to use two years of their lives being put into physical and mental turmoil? But of course, one cannot choose not to serve NS.

At this point I’d like to give a disclaimer: no, I was not too thrilled by NS as well, but neither did I hate it. So while I didn’t excitedly look forward to it, I didn’t enter Pulau Tekong hating everyone and everything in green.

But, I strongly disagreed with those that termed NS as a ‘waste of time’, that they had ‘better things to do’. Maybe you may call me brainwashed, but I truly believed: ‘If not us, then who?’

I mean, let’s face it, Singapore is small. You don’t need much propaganda to be convinced; just look at the map (if we can even be seen). In terms of conventional warfare, this means we sorely lack strategic depth.

We don’t have Siberia, or the Rhineland, to sacrifice to the enemy, whilst we prepare our defence. Yet, we still need to defend our country. Those who say that we are living in peacetime are hopelessly dreaming.

Traditionally, the imagined enemy has always been Malaysia or Indonesia. I think this is pretty much an open secret – our frenemy relationship with them, especially as our closest neighbours.

But, there are new threats. Terrorism is one scary one that will not go away anytime soon, and who knows when Singapore will be attacked. Also, China. It’s too early to tell, but we can never be sure China will never turn against us.

Of course, as an aside, I will concede that given these new threats, their forms of aggression may not even be conventional force, but sophisticated ones like cyber-attacks or even economic wars.

Yet, we can never assume that conventional warfare has expired, as long as there are still soldiers being trained in countries around the world. The possibility is lower, but low doesn’t equal to zero.

Really cheesy and cliché, and SPF please forgive me for appropriating your anti-crime slogan.

Back to how NS is not a waste of time. Yes, it’s true that two years of every male is being used up, but I would say that it doesn’t come without its benefits as well. There are many skills you can learn within the two years, apart from soldiering.

For instance, I worked in an office environment for the most part of my NS, and from there I learnt about office politics by being thrown into it from the get-go. Other soldiers will learn even more important skills, such as survival (literally).

Also, not every minute of NS is being taken up, actually. For most people, we do get to book-out on weekends. True, that may not be a lot of time (especially with late book-out / early book-in), but it’s better than confinement.

I have seen people pick up languages / skills during NS, or even re-sat their exams. Hence, I truly believe that for most things, it’s really a matter of motivation, despite the reduced time available.

And let’s just assume that yes, one can learn completely nothing apart from soldiering, which is not applicable in daily life (unless one signs on). But, it may precisely be these soldering skills that are required in times of war.

Would you still say that it is useless and a waste of time? To me, it’s a bit like insurance – most people don’t need it, you never know when you will need it, but it’s always good to have.

In the short term, therefore, yes it does seem useless. But again, if really one day Singapore needs to defend itself, who can we depend on? Yes we have our foreign defence alliances, but what if one day we are left alone?

Hence, I have never accepted that NS is a waste of time, even though like many others I don’t particularly enjoy it. Yet, I know that it is like a bitter pill, and so, like many others, suck thumb carry on.

~

Another ‘argument’ against NS that I hear is that how Singapore cannot survive any attack against it given its small size, hence why bother? Seemingly, it makes sense. I would say it’s pretty easy to destroy us.

But then, if you were a house owner, would you remove the gates and locks from your house? I mean, there are always burglars around and they are pretty skilful in breaking in, so why bother?

I certainly hope a majority of people wouldn’t agree to that. In the same way, a country should always strive to defend itself, no matter how futile it may be. Also, is it really all that futile?

Consider if we had zero defence. Simplifying things, an air attack may obliterate us. But what if we had at least some surface-to-air missiles? The air attack may still work, but at 50% success.

Wouldn’t it be better if we could save one more town or city from destruction? They could hold your family, relatives or friends. Or even, you yourself. So unless you envision waiting to die during an attack, this wouldn’t work out.

~

I am not against the abolishment of conscription, but if only there can be a convincing alternative. I know that there are many negatives arising from conscription, but so does a lack of conscription.

Unless there are enough people signing on every year such that we have a sizable regular armed force, sorry but conscription is the way to go. The system may not be perfect (especially vocational assignment), but this doesn’t mean it should go.

I once read on Facebook a comment about how NS is useless, since there are nuclear weapons in this day and age. Wow. As condescending as it may sound, I sure hope he doesn’t work in MINDEF. (Or that he’s trolling.)

Because: really? Singapore’s response is going to be a nuclear strike towards any sort of conflict? I wonder where that will bring us. Even if we do destroy whichever enemy, who is to say we won’t suffer?

Don’t forget, nuclear radiation is invisible and transmissible. Remember how people were advised to avoid food from Japan after the Fukushima incident? Exactly. Given Singapore’s hyper-connectedness, it may come back to haunt us.

~

I have always felt that those who blast NS as a waste of time are either short-sighted or self-entitled. Either they cannot recognise the long-term benefit (or negation of harm), or they only think about themselves.

I have heard people lamenting about how they could’ve achieved such-and-such in the two years, but then NS. Yes, it may all be true, I don’t doubt that. But, if during this period of time Singapore gets attacked, will you be able to defend your country?

Or, are you going to say that ‘other people will do it’, because if so, you may want to check out the bystander effect. Everybody says that, until no one actually does it. So nope, not a good idea.

Also, even if there are others who will contribute, who are you to expect them to help you instead? If others are willing to sacrifice their two years for military defence, who gave you permission to be just a selfish bastard enjoying their service?

~

Another point about why some people say that there shouldn’t be NS: because it takes away personal freedom. This argument, to me, is only valid with the assumption that freedom is absolute and superior.

And yes, I will admit that a military lifestyle is rather regimented. Eating / sleeping / waking times are controlled, all the more so during the Basic Military Training phase. To most people living with freedom, this does indeed result in a ‘culture shock’.

But have you considered why the need for such regimentation and discipline? Simply put, in battle, discipline is crucial (along with other factors) to victory. Discipline is doing things right, and not cutting corners.

Discipline is cleaning your rifle even though it’s damn tiring and irritating when the charcoal just wouldn’t come off (and your sergeant doesn’t let you off). But without discipline, unclean rifles will be used in the battlefield.

What follows is IA, IA, safe tilt check. Just what the enemy needs – more time wasted. Discipline is doing force prep even though what follows is lots of pumping every time something is not up to standard.

Because without force prep and standardisation, if one guy is down, his buddy cannot simply take over his equipment without first familiarising himself to the layout. Just what the enemy needs – more time wasted.

Why regimentation? Why do we suck thumb and follow orders from above? Because in war, when the order is given, there is no time for ‘But sir . . .’, it’s just go as per planned, with muscle memory kicking in.

I will acknowledge that, of course, such decision-making is not always fool-proof. A platoon commander (or even platoon sergeant) is not always the most knowledgeable. However, as a system, they are trained to be so. Hence, ideally, that’s why the men are trained to follow orders and not question them. Because the underlying assumption is that these commanders possess more intelligence (as in information, not cleverness) that is used to assess the situation and subsequently lay down an order. Again, this assumption is not always true – sometimes men are the ones who have better ideas than their commanders. Yet, at the end of the day, one cannot have troops constantly questioning itself. Any such questioning should be done during peacetime training, to synergise the platoon, where mistakes can be made. Such that, during war, the ideal of ‘Yes sir’ can take place smoothly.

So yes, if you accept that military defence is necessary, even as insurance, then I hope you will further accept that regimentation and discipline is essential. And as a sacrifice, then, freedom cannot be desired for.

Secondly, if there is no military defence during an attack and Singapore falls into the enemy’s hands (like during the Japanese Occupation), do you still think there’s freedom to ask for?

I’ve read and watched TV shows about the Japanese Occupation – I think it’s safe to say that people then had way less freedom than even in NS. At the very least, we cannot be summarily killed or beaten up, unlike back then.

Hence, to put it into perspective, yes freedom is suppressed, but for the greater good of freedom for the rest of Singapore. Otherwise, the entire Singapore may not enjoy any freedom at all.

~

So, there’s that. At the end of the day, I think that


It is true that all of what I say may come across as propaganda, since some of it does sound similar. Maybe I have been brainwashed. But I do welcome any constructive rebuttal.

As long as anyone can come up with a viable alternative to NS, I’m all ears. But please, no nuclear options.

#LestWeForget, TTFN.



aboutme.

From Singapore. 20 years of age. Blogs as and when inspiration comes, in British English (and Singlish), Traditional Chinese and (hopefully) Russian. Not a lifestyle blogger, expect posts to be serious, dull or even obscure. I enjoy comedy, in particular British humour.



interests.

[more or less in order] medicine | forensics | theatre | modern world history | typography (including style and grammar) | visual design | Taiji | Chinese language and literature | Mandarin pop (and singing) | Apple products.



typography.

PT Serif for main text and links. Ubuntu Condensed for dates, post titles and sidebar headings. Both fonts from Google Web Fonts.



credits.

singzeon. by Sing Zeon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence. Pictures used here either come from my Instagram (instagram.com/singzeon) or Google image search. For the latter, I do not own those pictures.



quote.

Hard to love. 認真你就輸了。