I Remember – My National Service Days

National Service is now 50 years since 1967. I served my National Service from December 1975 to June 1978. It was two and a half years of service to the nation. Now the length of National Service (NS) had been shortened to just two years.

Things have vastly improved since the earlier years of NS. I remember waking up to morning breakfast prepared by NS personnel in the cookhouse. These people were not professional cooks. They just happened to be in the vocation of a cook for NS. There was a constant joke that we were not eating fried beehoon1 but eating wire. It was that bad. Now NS engages commercial food caterers to supply food for the NS personnel.

My recruit days were spent at the Pulau Tekong camp. I remember a time when the camp water supply was scarce. We were given the strict order to shower in a shower parade. It was quick “soap, water down and then out” you come out of the shower. People could not flush the toilets after use. It was disgusting. This problem was headline news and SAF supervising officers were charged for this incident. At that time, we were raw recruits and we did not know that it was ill-treatment.

Now NS enlistees are more fortunate. There is the Committee to Strengthen NS (CSNS) to look into the interests of NS personnel. In our days, we just trained and did not expect such perks for being in the NS.

I am happy that Mindef did not forget us, the lao peng2, in their latest reward NS50 recognising our past contributions. We will be given $100 vouchers for use in selected retail and F&B outlets just like everyone else who had/have participated in NS since 1967. This is a good move and it would also help the economy with added domestic consumptions to the tune of about $100 million. (Source: The Straits Times, >1 million national servicemen x $100)

1 vermicelli
2 old soldierfile_000-3

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