My NS Experience – The Beginning

September 4th, 2005

Tuesday, 15th January, 1991, US President George Bush signed a National Security Directive authorizing the use of force unless some last minute diplomatic settlement was reached or Iraqi forces withdrew in mass from Kuwait. He then told Secretary Cheney he was authorized to sign the "execute" order which would be passed to the military National Command Authority after the U.N. deadline passed.

All this had nothing to do with my story except the fact that it was the same day I entered the Singapore Armed Forces as the lowest life form in the Army – the recruit.

Time: Several months before.

Bright was sun as I trotted along the overhead bridge from Bukit Merah Bus terminal to the SAF Recruitment for the first of many medical checkups.

I was told months before that I would be on the pioneer 5 month BMT programme.


Place: Clinic.

Ok, so I was mildly overweight. I say this in perspective to the person sitting next to me. He was the size of a certain Hawaiian Sumo wrestler.

Thwack! "Wah!"

Piak! "Ouchhh!"

"Hold still lah!"

"Yah! Yah! I can see the vein already! Get ready the needle!"



It’s not a nice thing discovering that you are so fat that your veins can’t be seen to get a blood sample. They have to slap the back of your hand so that a bruise will raise a vein.

Thank goodness the medical orderlies were too tired out to hit me after the pineapple-eating giant.

Actually, my veins were pretty visible.

But it pays to let people go first. Gripping hard on the edge of the chair works too.

Courtesy wins in the end.

"Ok, take off your clothes… Yes, underwear also."

"Ok, turn your head and cough."


"Oi, you trying to be funny ah? Turn the head on your neck and cough lah!"

Sorry. Wrong head.

Medical people can be so touchy sometimes.

That was nothing compared to my next encounter. SAF’s most powerful personnel – the Clerks.


Able to wipe out your entitlement of leave with a single stroke of "liquid paper", these people are not to be trifled with.

"Please write your father’s chinese name here."

Oh shit.

"What? You tell me your own father name you dono how to write ah?"

Nope. I usually use my name, not my father’s. Doesn’t everyone?

"Aiyah, neber mind lah, just sign here lah."


Time: 15th January 1991

Place: After swearing in (I insert-name-here hereby swear…). Clambering on board bus to Nee Soon Camp.

"Wah! SBC also got come ah!"

"Pioneer batch must show show lah."

"Lucky haven’t cut hair yet, otherwise botak not swee lah. Must call home to tape."

"Eh? I thought got give phonecard one? My friend’s CC got give free phone card leh!"

"Wah, kena cheated, man."


[This was written in 1996 as part 1 of a series of 3. Part 2 can be found here.]

2 Responses to “My NS Experience – The Beginning”

  1. ivn Says:

    Many people have been through National Service in Singapore and every experience is unique.

    However, I think mine was more unique as this was the military experiment that opened new vistas in the better utilization of personnel in the Singapore Armed Forces.

    Anyway, I actually proposed this project to emyln since we (amongst other folks) were in the same company (literally).

    I wrote a couple more and will post it as a weekly serial.

    Have fun and let me know what you think.

    p.s. Emyln, I’m still waiting for your version dude. ;)

  2. ivn Says:

    BTW, I posted it here because my other website (a homepage) has decayed.

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