Singapore’s NS, compared to Malaysia’s NSPosted: May 15, 2008
This piece is for Mr Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister. And for anyone else who cares enough about the tragedy in Malaysia also known as National Service.
I previously wrote here about how Najib said that “Many more trainees have died in Singapore” under their National Service Programme.
Well, I said it once, and I will say it again. Don’t compare with other countries. This is a problem that must be dealt with, no matter how other countries are doing.
But I did say that if Singapore is also having deaths in their National Service Training, then they should also up their game.
Guess what I found in The People’s Parliament?
In October 2003, Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean answered to Parliament. The deaths were Hu En Huai, 19, and Andrew Chew Heng Huat, 20. The minister said Hu collapsed during a Combat Survival Training (CST) session and Chew during a 2.4-km run (for obese recruits) in Basic Military Training Programme.
Hu collapsed at 1645 hours, was given medical treatment onsite and evacuated to Pulau Tekong Medical Centre at 1710 hrs, and by helicopter to Singapore General Hospital arriving at 1752 hrs. Chew collapsed at 1745 hrs and evacuated by helicopter, arriving hospital at 1842 hrs.
Hu died of asphyxia and near drowning. The SAF suspended the CST immediately after the incident. Four officers and a senior specialist who conducted the training were immediately suspended, two instructors responsible for supervising the training relieved of duty and the CO relieved from command. In short, heads rolled for the “extremely serious lapse in the conduct of the training”.
The basic difference is that both Singaporean boys were sent by helicopter to hospital within an hour, whereas the Malaysian boys and girls had been left to be sick and unattended for days. The other difference is that the Singaporeans were doing serious military training as soldiers for the defence of their country; we don’t know what our kids are doing in summer camp.
The full blog post here.
This is what becomes of something when the press doesn’t go any further than giving us what the Ministers say. The press have reduced their roles to become merely tape recorders, giving us exactly what was said and done, and nothing else. I guess this is pure reporting, and zero journalism.
Back to this issue. I’d admit that I was probably slightly too rash about my reaction towards the comparison with Singapore, because I didn’t know enough about it.
But still, if Najib wants to make comparisons, then at least make them good comparisons. Don’t just compare and say that there are “also deaths in Singapore, but the public still supports the programme”. If this is the way that the government deals with the deaths they have in NS, then I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t support it.
Just look at the difference in the way the cases are dealt with. Look at the efficiency. And look at the post-incident actions taken. People who were responsible were actually suspended for being unable to carry out the programme properly.
And what do WE have instead? The DG of the programme saying that the programme will not be scrapped “just because of one or two deaths“. Who was held responsible? No one. Oh wait, I think it was Too Hui Min who was held responsible for her own death for not knowing about her own medical condition before showing up for camp.
This is fantastically stupid. If Najib thinks he can just leave some facts out when he starts making comparisons, he’s got something else coming. We are not an ignorant bunch. We know what we are talking about. And we will NOT just sit tight and take in his bull like we might have once used to.