I’d love to live in an ideal world where NS isn’t necessarily. Unfortunately, we don’t, and so 2 years of my time (+ reservist… I have a low-key ICT in two weeks, sian…) went to the State. I wish it weren’t necessary, but I appreciate that it is.
Beyond that, I continue to respect and appreciate Singaporean men for the sacrifice they make. Singaporeans who ill-treat NSFs are incredibly ignorant and selfish.
A couple of more points:
War is inevitable.
Sure, there hasn’t been a global-scale war in 70 years. (Or at least… one that comes to our backyard lah.) But that’s like saying it hasn’t rained in 6 months. If you look at human history, wars happen ALL THE TIME. There are still Singaporeans alive today who lived through a war. Seriously, foreigners broke into our country and killed people. There’s really no reason why it can’t happen again.
(If you wanna be a bit history-geek about it– Singapore was part of the Srivijaya and then Majapahit empires, centuries before the British showed up. What happened each time? Piracy, invasions, people almost definitely killing each other. The humans on our humble island were almost definitely pawns in wars between greater empires. Welcome to the reality of our existence.)
2. Things are heating up in the world.
Pay attention. Religious fundamentalism is still a thing, and people seem to be getting more desperate. China is growing ‘peacefully’, and as it gets more powerful it’s going to start getting progressively more involved in the South China Sea. This shit is not going to be pretty:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_disputes_in_the_South_China_Sea
3. Yes, a lot of NS is wayang. And this is by design.
It’s because we live in peacetime. Making NS less wayang means accepting more costs, more casualties, etc– things that we shouldn’t necessarily have to endure when there is no reasonable threat on the horizon. (This is why Intel is so important, by the way.) NS makes a lot more sense when you realize that it isn’t meant to churn out war-ready soldiers. That would come at a huge cost that we aren’t willing to pay right now.
The entire NS/MINDEF apparatus is basically like an engine that’s kept running to avoid freezing up. Imagine if we did away with NS, and then in 5 years we find out that China is beginning to invade the region. We’d then have to set up an entire military from scratch. It’s far easier to “intensify” existing processes than it is to create new ones. Right now it’s really tragic whenever a mother loses her son in a military training accident. Seriously, hideously tragic. But the moment war comes to Singapore, and it is a near certainty of human history that this will happen, all of those lives lost will NOT be in vain– because they helped to maintain the apparatus that we will use to defend ourselves and our home.
Recommended reading on the side: http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2011/03/violence-is-golden/
PS: It’s been barely 70 years since tens of thousands of people in Singapore were murdered in cold blood by foreign forces, with heads being mounted on pikes outside Cathay cinema. Who do you trust to make sure that doesn’t happen again?