“Today, Singaporean males have accepted that they can be called up for NS for up to 40 days a year for 10 years, and that is after they have completed their 2-year full-time NS stint. The point about NS is that Singaporean males do not just serve 2 years of NS, they serve a 10-year NS training cycle when they enter the workforce as well. While it may be operationally and bureaucratically inefficient to get new citizens to serve full-time NS for two years, it is not in the realm of imagination to conceive of new citizens up to the age of 30, serving a 10-year NS cycle till they are 40 years old, which is the current statutory age limit of service for many Singaporean NSmen.”
It is not just two years okay. It is freaking two + ten over years of disruptive reservist, IPPT, RT, IPT, silent/ open mobilisation and the need to apply for an exit permit every time I travel. For over a decade after I ORD, I am still unable to keep long hair; have to buy and keep an extra handphone with no camera features; and experience many other inconveniences of being a part-time soldier. These may seem insignificant individually, but is a major annoyance when you put everything together.
Every year during my birthday, the first one to greet me is always MINDEF, sending me a warning SMS to take/pass my IPPT or get charge.
I am not a full time soldier and I dislike being one.
Ten years is an awfully long time to do something one dislikes. How many ten years are there in one’s life?
Time I can spend with my son, time I can spend developing my hobby or career, I waste them in camp doing stupid guard duties.
It is time to level the playing field don’t you think?
No amount of monetary reward is going to buy back ten years of my life. Get it?
MP Pritam Singh FTW (though as usual, I doubt MINDEF would give two hoot).
Long time readers of my blog will know that I am not a big fan of the SAF and NS. I think it put Singaporean males at a disadvantageous position when we enter the workforce two years later than our female counterpart, not to mention having to compete for jobs with younger foreigners. Worse still, I find the ten years of reservist cycle way too long and disruptive to our civilian lives – after giving SAF two and a half prime years of my youth, it is still not enough?
Nonetheless, I still suck it up and served, knowing all these are part of my obligation being born a Singapore male.
I am stating these upfront so readers will know my review of the movie will definitely be skewed.
When I first knew that Jack Neo was making this movie to coincide with SAF’s 40th anniversary, my first thought was that the movie must be 200% funded by MINDEF as a propaganda strategy.
I was wrong. MINDEF only facilitated the shoots and provided expert military consultation in the filming. They did not provide any funding at all. Nonetheless, there were still some pretty cheesy propaganda moments.
The movie turned out better than I expected though. Sans the propaganda messages and the plentiful blatant product endorsement from a bak kwa brand, an auditing firm, a telco and a F&B outlet. Then again, James Bond movies like the latest, Skyfall, falls into the same trap these days.
The opening of the film featured a long battle sequence of Singapore under attack by foreign enemies. This is definitely something that I have not seen before in previous Jack Neo’s movies (or any Singapore-made movies) and kudos to him for achieving such high production standards. Sadly, the transition from the battle scene (which turns out to be a video game) to a storyline revolving around boys going through their army training was a bit of an anticlimax.
Jack Neo has chosen to use a main cast of mostly new faces, plucked from Internet blogs and video stars mixed with a few veteran actors and actresses like Irene Ang, Liu Qian Yu and Wang Lei. I find the mix rather refreshing and the new faces are fun to watch.
The lead actor Joshua Tan played the role of a spoilt brat adjusting to army life very well. I also like Wang Wei Liang’s acting as Lobang. Probably due to his Getai training, his comic timing is impeccable, just like his uncle, Wang Lei.
The older cast in the movie were all superb, easily holding their on against the boys, though they have significantly less screen time.
The scenes showing the army of the past were really funny. Were those really true? Stand by bed in the parade square? I would like to think I have it tougher than the new recruits today, but from the movie, I think my level of suffering was somewhere in between.
There were some moments in the film where I can identify with what the boys went through during my two and a half years in “national slavery”. I am sure many other Singaporean men will agree. This is the perfect show for male bonding.
I do not like to give star ratings for movies as I find it subjective, depending on which audience group you are rating the movie for. This movie is definitely a crowd-pleaser like all of Jack Neo’s other movies. Heartlanders will enjoy it; Singapore males who have serve in the army will enjoy it (even if you hate SAF like I do); the average family audience will enjoy it. Serious film critics and art house fanatics should stay away – you have be warned.
The movie has done very well at the box-office. It has broken local box-office records by earning more than $1.5 million over its opening weekend, in the process beating James Bond movie Skyfall, which was in its second week of release. The movie raked $1,509,422 from Thursday (Nov 8) to Sunday (Nov 11), giving it the biggest opening weekend ever for a local movie. With 37 prints in cinemas, it beat the previous record-holder, the 2008 comedy Ah Long Pte Ltd, also directed by Neo, which had made $1,484,000 with 50 prints in its opening weekend over Chinese New Year.
Ah Boys to Men《新兵正传》is now showing in Singapore cinemas. It is a two-part movie. This is just the first part. Go catch it if you are not a film critic or art house fanatic! 🙂
To the ladies of Singapore, from an NS girl by Melissa Sng on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 4:39am ·
I was once in green as well. And though any Singaporean guy can tell you this, I just thought it’ll be good to come out from another girl’s mouth, just so you know it’s not about “weak”ness, male egos and however else females somehow like to insult their brave NS men with 😦 So ladies, I know that the NS experience is the equivalent of a fairy story to you. But just so you know how privileged you are –
You may laugh at how funny botak heads and black spectacles look. For a new recruit whose name has become “Eh, Recruit”, and not the name he has had since always and will maybe lose to weird nicknames in the next two years of his life: at the most important stage of his life thus far, that is the last of his worries.
As you wake up leisurely just think about how they wake up, after 7 hours of sleep, to yet another punishing day of physical training.
As you freshen up remember that the amount of toothpaste they put on their toothbrush is one of the few decisions they actually get to make – at every other moment, they are told precisely what to do, and punished for anything short of robotic perfection.
As you choose what clothes to wear, know that he only has the choice between that still-damp-one-I-rinsed-in-the-sink and the-stinky-one-that-I-didn’t-get-to-wash.
And as you miss him, know that he is thinking of you every moment he can, as he does his monotonous physical exercises by each whistle blow, as he digs his shellscrape and the heat rash stings his entire body, as he listens to you say on the phone, “I wish you weren’t there. I don’t think I can do this for much longer”. Because, out of everything they have to endure, the only time I’ve seen them cry is when they think and talk about you. Their family.
Your boyfriend, your male friends, brothers and sons, may dislike the army for robbing him of his freedom and time, even his youth. Yet if you want to support them, don’t just side with them and resent the policy of NS too, just like that. Instead, please do your country a favour and treasure him, because otherwise he’s only got his buddy (and his rifle) and his commanders to watch his back and they’re all in this together; he’s got two years that he has no choice but to make the best of, while you are living your carefree life happily. Please don’t dismiss their efforts, mock the precious life that was lost and everything they sacrifice, to protect Singaporeans like you. And when they have ORDed, when they gang up together in their little huddles and talk about NS, please don’t feel left out.. I hope you feel appreciative. It’s the only thing your country demands of you in its defense.
Please do not take them for granted.
May PTE Lee rest in peace.
P.S. To all Mums: Solid home-cooked food during book-outs is a (Y).