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Ministry of Retirement

I wish Minister Lui Tuck Yew a deservedly happy retirement, and I appreciate the things he’s done during his tenure as Minister of Transport. I have no doubt it is a very, very tough job, made harder by some of the problems and missteps inherited from previous ministers. Think COE miscalculations, and if you’ve forgotten – how CAAS jeopardised Changi Airport’s status as an commercial hub when they fought Air Asia’s landing rights, trying to protect SQ. These are, by far, more serious problems than the occasional train breakdown which we treat like a natural disaster.

But to his credit, Minister Lui has not whinged about bearing the brunt of a nation’s grumblings. He’s instead, taken Khaw Boon Wan’s sage advice, and fallen on his sword. I would have liked to hear him say, “I am elected, selected, and paid to do this job, and by golly, I will stay to fix the freaking train system, and fire anyone who screws up some more. No more excuses”, but he’s entitled to throw in the towel now, and let someone else handle the nation’s high expectations.

Personally, I think he made a better MoT than a Minister for Information Communication & The Arts (MICA) Under his watch at MoT, we’ve had a proper plan for expanding our land transport network, and I’m personally glad for the wider expressways which have alleviated some of the morning traffic snarl. Although I wish the expressway were wider than the ERP gantry that came with it.

So, who do you think is up for the job?

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What I Want For My Birthday: You’ll Be Shocked (Hopefully)

There’s an option on Facebook for not revealing how old you are or when your birthday is. But I love the attention, and so I leave it on.

For my birthday, I wish for all my friends to do something in your capacity to help the most unwanted people on the planet – the Rohingya. Watch the video below:

This Guardian video is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands have died, hundreds more have been and remain in slavery, and thousands and thousands more are being persecuted, marginalised and unwanted by the countries the Rohingya straddle – Bangladesh, Myanmar – and because this crisis is growing as they put themselves to sea, the rest of ASEAN.

We need to do more as a leader within ASEAN, and not simply say, ‘we have no space for refugees, let’s donate money’, and then forget about this epic tragedy amidst the throes of our simisaialsoSG50.

So, if you’re thinking of getting me a present, do these things instead:

1. Share and spread the word – let people know about the Rohingya;

2. Donate to organisations helping the Rohingyas, either in the refugee camps in Malaysia or in Myanmar itself. In Singapore, Islamic-Relief is helping with food and housing for the Rohingya within Myanmar;

3. Make a list in the comments here on which other organization are helping, and suggest other ways we can help.

Updates:

Fixed the link to the Islamic Relief donation page

Links Contributed:

Boaz’s Fundraiser to Raise Awareness
Arakan Rohingya National Organisation
HumanSecurity.Org page for Rohingya

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Butt Party* Fall In: 50 Years of SAF

Even if the last time any of our military units saw battle was before 1965 (Konfrontasi – 1SIR), I now realise been wrongly telling people that we don’t have a martial tradition.

I think half a century of SAF makes it a tradition. Some of the operations the SAF have undertaken may not necessarily have been military in purpose, but I’m proud to remember my unit, the 46th Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment, receiving its regimental colours in 1990 as recognition for its role, in 1986, in search and rescue operations during the Hotel New World disaster.

There’ve been missions since, like Ops Flying Eagle, that demonstrate the great capability of our Armed Forces.

It’s been seven years since I attended my last ICT, and twenty six since I first enlisted, and I think my Army mates through the years at 46SAR and 433SAR would agree that the memories we’ve amassed will remain as fresh as ever.

I’m proud to have served in the most formidable Armed Forces in the region – and salute our service personnel past and present on this special SAF Day.

Sungei Gedong Camp, 1990: 297 Days to ROD, as it was known then. We spent so much time in camp, and we were asked to 'decorate' our bunks - We, HQ platoon, Attila Combat Team, decided to name ours "The Coconut Grove".

Sungei Gedong Camp, 1990: 297 Days to ROD, as it was known then. We spent so much time in camp, so we were asked to ‘decorate’ our bunks – We, HQ platoon, Attila Combat Team, decided to name ours “The Coconut Grove”.

This was our accommodation at Khao Meng Camp in Kanchanaburi Thailand, October 1989. We had several mishaps, including one fatality, during this our first overseas training exercise. I remember it like it was yesterday.

This was our accommodation at Khao Meng Camp in Kanchanaburi Thailand, October 1989. We had several mishaps, including one fatality, during this our first overseas training exercise. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Near the end of our NSF stint, we were 'rewarded' with Exercise Starlight, and had a lot more fun in Taiwan.

Near the end of our NSF stint, we were ‘rewarded’ with Exercise Starlight, and had a lot more fun in Taiwan.

August 1990 - local training was still challenging even if we knew Area D inside out. Training grounds were always so crowded with different Army units crisscrossing each other. In Area D alone, I bumped into my brother, serving in 35SCE and a year my junior, at least three times during our NSF days.

August 1990 – local training was still challenging even if we knew Area D inside out. Training grounds were always so crowded with different Army units crisscrossing each other. In Area D alone, I bumped into my brother, serving in 35SCE and a year my junior, at least three times during our NSF days.

As the company's bikey, I  was also the OC's MG Gunner. The CVC helmet is a communications device - there's a toggle that switches between intercom (within the combat vehicle's crew) and company/battalion radio frequency network. We sometimes accidentally jammed the network by leaving the transmit toggle on. The other ingenious thing we did was to black tape our Walkmen earphones to the microphones - and piped in music through our fighting vehicles!

August 1990: As the company’s bikey, I was also the OC’s MG Gunner. The CVC helmet is a communications device – there’s a toggle that switches between intercom (within the combat vehicle’s crew) and company/battalion radio frequency network. We sometimes accidentally jammed the network by leaving the transmit toggle on. The other ingenious thing we did was to black tape our Walkmen earphones to the microphones – and piped in music through our fighting vehicles!

August 1990: Our driver, among what must now look like antiquated equipment, including a GPS that was the size of a field pack, and which returned a set of numbers which still had to be tallied against  Map Grid References.

1990: Our driver, among what must now look like antiquated equipment, including a GPS that was the size of a field pack, and which returned a set of numbers which still had to be tallied against Map Grid References.

Rockhampton Airport, October 2005: Griping about budget airlines? Beat this: We got off the plane, waited for them to open the cargo door, and then picked up our bags directly from the aircraft.

Rockhampton Airport, October 2005: Griping about budget airlines? Beat this: We got off the plane, waited for them to open the cargo door, and then picked up our bags directly from the aircraft.

Shoal water Bay, Queensland, 2005: Happy NSMan - all smiles before the long haul of a week-long exercise. I deferred from reservist/NS for 8 years, and when I returned, I got posted to 433SAR, a batch of soldiers six years younger than me. Made fast friends nonetheless.

Shoal water Bay, Queensland, 2005: Happy NSMan – all smiles before the long haul of a week-long exercise. I deferred from reservist/NS for 8 years, and when I returned, I got posted to 433SAR, a batch of soldiers six years younger than me. Made fast friends nonetheless.

2008: The last In-Camp before being mothballed into Mindef Reserve.

2008: The last In-Camp before being mothballed into Mindef Reserve.

*A ‘butt’ is the end of a firing range, usually made from mounds of earth, to stop the flight of bullets from going beyond the range. When I was in NS, some ranges did not have automated targets, and soldiers took turns holding up wooden targets at the butt. Each group was called a ‘butt party’, and the ‘butt party IC’ would yell ‘butt party fall in!’, when it was his group’s turn to walk to the butt to hold up targets.

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