All posts filed under: Army / National Service


The last major training exercise I was part of was held in Shoalwater Bay, Queensland. On the night before the end of the exercise, (which was also an assessment known as ATEC that determines whether a combat unit is fit for operations) the communications radio in my armoured fighting vehicle crackled with a higher than usual urgency. Our vehicle commander pleaded with us to keep quiet so he could listen better. When someone yells or screams into a radio comms, whatever message that person is trying to send is usually distorted and garbled, and because you don’t know what it is that is making the person so frantic, it tends to scare you a little. All we could hear was frantic yelling on the radio communications – something about “No Duff”, which was code for “Not Simulated”. We worked out that one of our tanks had overturned. And when that happens, chances of injury to the crew are likely to be high. There is a vehicle overturn drill which we practice before every exercise, but …

Your Grandfather’s Mother Tongue Is it?

I had great fun at the last minute pop-up Talkingcock In Parliament 3 organised by Colin, Yen Yen and others on Saturday evening. There was a great variety of speakers anyhowly hum-tumming what Mother Tongue means to us because it’s been anyhowly hum-tummed into our lives. This is what I said: My Hokkien mother spoke no Mandarin, was educated in ACS in Malaya, and my father taught himself English, but spoke Hainanese mostly. Although most days you couldn’t tell which he was speaking. Older Hainanese men have accents as thick as the slab of butter in your kaya toasts. But my father spoke just enough rubbish for people in Australia to lump him together with other East Asians and he scored a job as a translator with the Japanese Olympic team in the 1956 Melbourne Games. That did not end well. He was fired before the closing ceremony because a Japanese boxer was taken to hospital for an emergency appendectomy he didn’t need to have. He had simply tried to tell my father that he …

Purple Light

I do not remember rape being part of the song called Purple Light. (I never even knew the song was called Purple Light – it was always “My rifle, my buddy and me”). Several of my peers think the words in question were added in the last 10 years or so. Shame on the commanders who thought it fit to add that in. And shame on those who think there’s nothing wrong with the lyrics. As proud members of the Singapore Armed Forces, it is your duty and honour to defend everything this country stands for. We may be trying to figure out what it is that this country stands for, but condoning and belittling the use of rape as something you do out of spite is definitely not in our book of values. Can? Tweet