Blogging about National Service is OK

Ex Wallaby 2005
As seen in the Sunday Times: Reservist photo! Oct 2005: Relaxing on the ramp. (Guess which one’s Sgt Foreskin?)

How can one not talk about National Service, especially when it’s a very large slice of one’s life? Cannot right? I mean, cannot don’t talk right?

Even if you paid $5,000.00 for skipping National Service altogether, you’ll still want to talk about it, right?

‘Eh, um, nah, give you $5,000.000, you don’t call me for NS, ok? I’m not free’.

‘Not free? Why?’

‘Um, I playing piano in London, dowan to come back liao’.

‘Nabeh! Next time terrorist attack, me and my NS unit don’t protect you then you know! Chow Piano Player!’

And that’s why the nice folks at MINDEF are saying that there’s nothing wrong with blogging about National Service, and in fact, encourage people to talk about their experiences in the Army, Air Force and Navy. (Civil Defence and Police Force folk, your own pasal, I dunno… you come under a different Ministry).

They also said that they liked the fact that there were objective views from National Servicemen of all ages, instead of just from traditional channels, like that of MINDEF’s publications. In these publications, you’ll never hear of how the food sucked in camp or how a logistical stuff-up caused us to eat ‘Combat Ration Muslim Menu 4 Spicy’ for three days in a row (which caused some of us to lau sai three days in a row), which does happen once in awhile.

The matter at issue when I took down all Army-related posts and pictures were actually just the pictures themselves. I didn’t have authorisation or clearance from MINDEF to publish photographs. My own fault for assuming that because I had authorisation (given by my unit in 2004) to take the pictures during training, I had authorisation to post them on the web, which I had done so since 2004.

So, the 100+ Flickr photographs I had posted, some since 2004, were the ones that got me in this bit of strife. But not to worry, because the kind folk at MINDEF, maybe about two dozen of them, took a look at the pictures earlier in the week, and decided that there wasn’t any security breach.

In any case, when I was alerted to the potential breach of security issue by my unit’s commanding officer on Wednesday, I voluntarily took down all pictures and posts while the unit, the brigade and the division investigated.

Apparently, MINDEF was alerted on Tuesday to my photographs, some taken since 2004, by Straits Times correspondent reporter Jeremy Au Yong’s (Nabeh, thank you ah, friend – I’ve spoken to MINDEF and they’ll extend your make you do reservist even though you’re Malaysian, until you’re 55) call, asking them about their ‘blogging policy’ for NSmen, which was the background of his intended story about NSmen blogging about their reservist training.

Sundaytimes201105Picture 3-1
Still not how I’d want to make the news

Thursday morning was supposed to have been a quick trip to historical Selarang Barracks to return sensitive military equipment (tool, entrenching, steel, with cover, canvas, and stick, holding, tool, entrenching, steel, with cover, canvas, and jacket and pants, parka, all-weather, camouflaged, gore-tex, with cover, SSN12345678910 and SSN12345678911), but it turned out to be a very long morning meeting all manner of military officers who were there to investigate the matter and to reassure me that it was alright to talk about Army matters online. They also gave me a rough guide as to what could and could not be said, saying that they’d prefer NSmen to ‘use their own discretion’ when talking about Army matters.

So anyway, it’s mostly cleared up now, and with most of Sunday spent answering SMSs and phone calls from concerned family and friends wondering if I had been detained at detention barracks, I’m now putting back up all my Army-related articles and photographs, with the exception of one or two pictures, of which I’ve been told, MINDEF would ‘prefer’ not be shown.

What kind of pictures, you may well ask? Pictures of military hardware are usually sensitive – especially the interior, because you don’t want the enemy to see how MINDEF ‘zhngs‘ our rides – as are pictures of injured servicemen – because you don’t want the pictures to go public before the serviceman’s family is informed of his injuries – but to be really sure before you share your photos with the public, check with MINDEF first. There are several ways you can do this. For mine, I’ve been told that I could check with the Army Information Centre (AIC) who’ll check my pictures to see if they’re ok.

As for any other form of information, common sense will tell you that if a matter is one that is the subject of an ongoing investigation, you shouldn’t blog about it in detail.

So, go ahead, talk about your Army experience – how good it is, how stupid it is, what a waste of time it is – and continue contributing to Days Were The Those.


Slice of life: Feb 1990: It was Mr Miyagi that came up with the name for ‘Attila’ Combat Team, 46th Bn, Singapore Armoured Regiment; Nov 2005: Still in use, seven batches and sixteen years later.


Some things haven’t changed. Relaxing on the ramp: August 1990

Surf stop: Army / National Service Category
Surf stop: Days Were The Those: Stories of National Service in Singapore

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46 thoughts on “Blogging about National Service is OK”

  1. wah you oso 46 ah?! hah … ang teck hock was ur CSM? i went there around 3-4 yrs later. that photo of the hq sure brings back lotsa memories…:P

  2. yo

    great to hear that all the stuff with mindef are cleared now… all ur army entries are great… especially those from the recent wallaby exercise! brings back the good old days in me. once armour always armour!

  3. yo

    great to hear that all the stuff with mindef are cleared now… all ur army entries are great… especially those from the recent wallaby exercise! brings back the good old days in me. once armour always armour!

  4. Glad that they didn’t throw you into DB. Else we got to start a “Save Miyagi” online petition.

    btw: what is wrong with posting picture of interior of a army tank? We get to see it during every Army open house also mah.

    whatever….

  5. Glad that they didn’t throw you into DB. Else we got to start a “Save Miyagi” online petition.

    btw: what is wrong with posting picture of interior of a army tank? We get to see it during every Army open house also mah.

    whatever….

  6. miyagi, i c ur ic number (on reservist notice?) shown in flickr, i suggest u blanko it out. IC number can used for identity theft. πŸ˜‰

  7. miyagi, i c ur ic number (on reservist notice?) shown in flickr, i suggest u blanko it out. IC number can used for identity theft. πŸ˜‰

  8. Mindef director of public affairs Benedict Lim was quoted “While many pictures may not be sensitive, shots of thing like the inside of vehicles… should not be placed in a public domain like a website.”

    To further illustrate the point, our newspaper published a 21×12.5cm(I really got measure one Ok!) “COLOURED SHOT OF INSIDE OF AN ARMY VEHICLE!!!”. Well done SundayTimes! Love their sense of humour.

  9. Mindef director of public affairs Benedict Lim was quoted “While many pictures may not be sensitive, shots of thing like the inside of vehicles… should not be placed in a public domain like a website.”

    To further illustrate the point, our newspaper published a 21×12.5cm(I really got measure one Ok!) “COLOURED SHOT OF INSIDE OF AN ARMY VEHICLE!!!Ò€. Well done SundayTimes! Love their sense of humour.

  10. Hate to say it brother, but having a photo album of army training photos in your house is very different from posting them on the web.

    But any “damage” you may have done pales in comparison to the damage done by the Melvyn “The Pianist” Tan case.

    All of us know that NS is more than just 2-2.5 years of NSF and 13 or 10 years of OR. If the button is pushed, we may called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice for our family, friends and country. To value this duty at S$5000 is a slap in the face of everyone of us who stayed. I have been in No.4 on and off since 19 Dec 1984 and this the first time I feel like mailing my beret and bars to the Minister of Defence. While I sympathise with Mr. Melvyn Tan and his elderly parents, it was his own selfishness that caused the separation in the first place. It is a sad day when fame, privilege and cynicism replace Duty, Honour, Country.

  11. Hate to say it brother, but having a photo album of army training photos in your house is very different from posting them on the web.

    But any “damage” you may have done pales in comparison to the damage done by the Melvyn “The Pianist” Tan case.

    All of us know that NS is more than just 2-2.5 years of NSF and 13 or 10 years of OR. If the button is pushed, we may called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice for our family, friends and country. To value this duty at S$5000 is a slap in the face of everyone of us who stayed. I have been in No.4 on and off since 19 Dec 1984 and this the first time I feel like mailing my beret and bars to the Minister of Defence. While I sympathise with Mr. Melvyn Tan and his elderly parents, it was his own selfishness that caused the separation in the first place. It is a sad day when fame, privilege and cynicism replace Duty, Honour, Country.

  12. Well said “Not so old Soldier”… It’s a sad day for us all indeed.
    I should mail my stuffs back to them, with a $50/- cheque enclosed. Yeah, since I’ve completed most of my service, they shouldn’t charge me the full 5k.

  13. Well said “Not so old Soldier”… It’s a sad day for us all indeed.
    I should mail my stuffs back to them, with a $50/- cheque enclosed. Yeah, since I’ve completed most of my service, they shouldn’t charge me the full 5k.

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  16. Tinkertailor: Look on the brightside — perhaps it’s thanks to ST reporter that whole blogging issue got to MINDEF’s official attention and they decided to take the enlightened view. It can only be good for Singapore’s long term outlook (just like NS, eh… heh heh). Of course during which Mr Miyagi must have been in no-man’s land, but well, he came out stronger for it.

  17. Tinkertailor: Look on the brightside — perhaps it’s thanks to ST reporter that whole blogging issue got to MINDEF’s official attention and they decided to take the enlightened view. It can only be good for Singapore’s long term outlook (just like NS, eh… heh heh). Of course during which Mr Miyagi must have been in no-man’s land, but well, he came out stronger for it.

  18. To : MP concen for Blk 130 Bedok North street 2 , singapore

    dear Mr Lee

    I was issue a notice of offences for hanging clothes out of bedroom’s windows
    and it say a summon will be issue to me .
    my upper floor “good” neighbours alway had laundry dripping anytime of the day
    when I talk them they replied……….”You moved out lah ”
    so to avoid trouble , I had to have other alternatives

    I am not satisfied as the party (summon issuer ) concern never do their job impartially

    I wanted and waiting to court to see the judge to get a fair trail as this problem has been with me since
    year 1997 when my mother got a stroke and our laundry got plenty since then
    many many other problem arises .

    I am quite a kiasu-su person , I see many other resident hang clothes out of their window
    not only in my area but througout singapore housing estate
    so I follow . Beside it is safely secured .( I can get a PE to certified )
    I need hang out only for 1 to 2 hours just to catch the sunlight and it happen only 3 month
    out of the entire year when the sun shine right into my unit

    I had seen your Town Council that Mr Teo NM during that time about the 2 iron pillar
    planted at the entrance of the block I stay.while other block not have….this is unfair
    The HDB also know about this matter
    The police came few times..they see and never say anything.as it doesn’t cause any danger

    There is this resident at second floor who always complaint against me # 02-61 since 1998
    I do not know this person..I say again I do not know this family.
    I want to know why this person hate me so much.

    I have eggs / water melon and all kind of rubbish thrown onto my car.
    I talk to police , was advice to avoid.
    to date . this person still bullying me , I am poor and so afraid as my children still vey small.
    and still need my attention for another 10 years
    But being poor does not mean can be bullied

    On going problem
    To date still happening , this person at second floor will
    bang on wall to make loud noise while everybody is asleep…Just imagine a
    senior steward with Singapore Airline doing such a nasty thing.
    something is wrong somewhere

    I wish to see u tonight and need advise to proceed with my life

    rgds
    yeo wak chuan
    64443500 my phone

  19. To : MP concen for Blk 130 Bedok North street 2 , singapore

    dear Mr Lee

    I was issue a notice of offences for hanging clothes out of bedroom’s windows
    and it say a summon will be issue to me .
    my upper floor “good” neighbours alway had laundry dripping anytime of the day
    when I talk them they replied……….”You moved out lah ”
    so to avoid trouble , I had to have other alternatives

    I am not satisfied as the party (summon issuer ) concern never do their job impartially

    I wanted and waiting to court to see the judge to get a fair trail as this problem has been with me since
    year 1997 when my mother got a stroke and our laundry got plenty since then
    many many other problem arises .

    I am quite a kiasu-su person , I see many other resident hang clothes out of their window
    not only in my area but througout singapore housing estate
    so I follow . Beside it is safely secured .( I can get a PE to certified )
    I need hang out only for 1 to 2 hours just to catch the sunlight and it happen only 3 month
    out of the entire year when the sun shine right into my unit

    I had seen your Town Council that Mr Teo NM during that time about the 2 iron pillar
    planted at the entrance of the block I stay.while other block not have….this is unfair
    The HDB also know about this matter
    The police came few times..they see and never say anything.as it doesn’t cause any danger

    There is this resident at second floor who always complaint against me # 02-61 since 1998
    I do not know this person..I say again I do not know this family.
    I want to know why this person hate me so much.

    I have eggs / water melon and all kind of rubbish thrown onto my car.
    I talk to police , was advice to avoid.
    to date . this person still bullying me , I am poor and so afraid as my children still vey small.
    and still need my attention for another 10 years
    But being poor does not mean can be bullied

    On going problem
    To date still happening , this person at second floor will
    bang on wall to make loud noise while everybody is asleep…Just imagine a
    senior steward with Singapore Airline doing such a nasty thing.
    something is wrong somewhere

    I wish to see u tonight and need advise to proceed with my life

    rgds
    yeo wak chuan
    64443500 my phone

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