Dad's thoughts as Shuan, Son no 2, begins his National Service in Singapore

Maybe he was preparing himself when he joined the uniformed band in his Malaysian primary school....

...playing the trombone 

Plus his years of gymnastic training to strengthen and flex his body?

Don't you agree that he looks good in any uniform?

Bet he wanted to look just as good as Dad when he was drafted.......was Dad ever in the army before?? hahaha This will definitely be part of the theme for this year's Never Ending Christmas Story in December.

Yes Shuan, the S Boy, S for Steady but not Super, seen on the far right of the above photo would never have imagine at that time that he would one day be drafted into the Singapore army for National Service (NS) but nevertheless would have been well prepared. The reason is everyone was still living in Malaysia then except for Fei our oldest girl who was studying in BYU Hawaii.

So all the while he was continuing to practice his piano skills in Malaysia to become the pianist of his Ward at Church when the family moved to Singapore....

.....bagging all the gold medals and scholarships in his college as well during the time of his academic pursuits...

...not forgetting winning competitions and paid trips to colleges overseas in Australia and the USA as well as community service trips to the Philippines.

When he was in his college level, he knew the time would soon come when the 'rubber rubs the concrete' where he would be called to serve National Service in Singapore for 2 years, the consequence of being a permanent resident in Singapore. He will report to Tekong tomorrow morning and is allowed 5 members of the family to accompany him to tour the training site and facilities for all the new National Service recruits!

What are the thoughts of Dad on this major event of his son in Singapore?

Well after Mom passed away in Nov 2012, Dad was left with 3 remaining boys in Singapore to take charge of as the oldest boy Han, on the far right of the above photo, was on a mission in the UK Manchester area. 

The situation became a greater challenge when Dad's application to the ICA for a long term stay in Singapore was rejected despite having a support appeal letter from the MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC(Buona Vista), Mr Chan Chun Sing.  I had by the start of the new year exceeded the max 60 days in Singapore for the past 90 days period of time that I could remain in Singapore. This is when Dad's favorite dictum kicked in, ie "When the Going gets Tough, the Tough gets Going!"

Even with all the support of family and friends, I am ultimately the Father of the family and I was in charge. I prepared them mentally and helped the boys understand that Dad running the home now is not quite like Mom. What I really meant was that we got to get organized and while Mom could be soft as a woman and also that she was stricken with cancer for 7 years before her passing away, Dad though a loving man at heart is still a Man and the boys need to learn how to be a Man under me. I felt some self discipline needed to be instilled in the home where each boy or part Man part Boy, for those older in teenage years, needed to learn his duty in the home. While their mother would sacrifice much to clean house, cook, wash etc etc etc after her maid had left home to be married in Indonesia, it was time for them to become self reliant, something that I felt I could teach/instruct as an independent professional entrepreneurial consultant for over 25 years.

Nevertheless, dealing with mid to older teenage boys is not an easy task. Besides I had to shuttle back and forth between Malaysia and Singapore. My first initiative was to appoint a President in terms of civil position to be in charge in the home when I was away and that would be Shuan the oldest at home. In military terms he would be a Captain of the team but I would run the home in a civil way and empower the President to only give instructions to the younger two but not to render punishment to them for failure to obey, lest he becomes an enemy brother to them which I did not desire. But any wrath would come from where the buck stops and that is me the Father and in military terms, the General. The word I learnt early in my years of parenthood is to be 'Assertive' which meant the children will know that the Father means business when he gives them a reminder or two to follow up on an instruction from him. 

The President Shuan, had done a great job to care for the home, doing much of the administration of bill payments and upkeep of the house and the boys were told to follow his instructions as the President but any failure on their part to follow his instructions will be reported to me and only I would have the right to take any disciplinary action accordingly.

So my thoughts as Shuan goes to the army is that I believe, he will now learn how in the military that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Tough not just in terms of physical endurance but the fact that the system of communication or commands must be loud and clear and no one in the team will be allowed to let the others down. He will have to be listening to more than assertive lance corporals or corporals etc and one day may be himself be promoted to those higher positions to become the more than assertive leader in the military. For that purpose I believe the National Service training in Singapore will be good for Shuan to help him balance his skills in leadership with whatever else he has learnt from our Church culture.

I will close with the prayer that I always hold for my boys which may be appropriate to share at this time as it is from General Douglas MacArthur, a famous war hero in the USA :

Build me a son, O God, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know thee - and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men. One who will reach into the future, yet, never forgets the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never takes himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember  the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength,

Then I, his father, will dare whisper, "I have not lived in vain!"

About Douglas MacArthur

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964) was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army who was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign, which made him and his father Arthur MacArthur, Jr., the first father and son to be awarded the medal. He was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the U.S. Army, and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army.

Raised in a military family in the American Old West, MacArthur was valedictorian at the West Texas Military Academy, and First Captain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated top of the class of 1903. During the 1914 United States occupation of Veracruz, he conducted a reconnaissance mission, for which he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. In 1917, he was promoted from major to colonel and became chief of staff of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. In the fighting on the Western Front during World War I, he rose to the rank of brigadier general, was again nominated for a Medal of Honor, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and the Silver Star seven times.

From 1919 to 1922, MacArthur served as Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he attempted a series of reforms. His next assignment was in the Philippines, where in 1924 he was instrumental in quelling the Philippine Scout Mutiny. In 1925, he became the Army's youngest major general. He served on the court martial of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and was president of the American Olympic Committee during the1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. In 1930, he became Chief of Staff of the United States Army. As such, he was involved in the expulsion of the Bonus Army protesters from Washington, D.C. in 1932, and the establishment and organization of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1937 to become Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines.

MacArthur was recalled to active duty in 1941 as commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East. A series of disasters followed, starting with the destruction of his air forces on 8 December 1941, and the invasion of the Philippines by the Japanese. MacArthur's forces were soon compelled to withdraw to Bataan, where they held out until May 1942. In March 1942, MacArthur, his family and his staff left nearby Corregidor Island in PT boatsand escaped to Australia, where MacArthur became Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area. For his defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor. After more than two years of fighting in the Pacific, he fulfilled a promise to return to the Philippines. He officially accepted Japan's surrender on 2 September 1945, and oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951. As the effective ruler of Japan, he oversaw sweeping economic, political and social changes. He led the United Nations Command in the Korean War until he was removed from command by President Harry S. Truman on 11 April 1951. He later became Chairman of the Board of Remington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediapedia


A chance to meet a former elite army major-general in Singapore

About Chan Chun Sing

The Story

In November last year, this man, Mr Chan Chun Sing, a member of parliament for the Tanjong Pagar GRC dropped by at Mom's wake at Commonwealth Drive to offer his services if needed by the family. A week later I was brought to meet him at a Meet-the-People Session (MPS) where Shuan became my offical sponsor as a permanent resident for my application to the ICA Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore for a long term visit pass on the island state.

Tonight, realizing it was a Monday night when they hold their weekly MPS session, I chanced to go there by myself, as Shuan was busy with his National Service preparation, to have a further follow-up on my application to the ICA. I did get to meet Mr Chan again who realizing Shuan was now starting his NS gave a few words of advice. He suggested that Shuan should do his best to climb up the ladder while in NS to higher ranks or in short be a 'good boy' or stay out of  trouble as he felt that his good performance while in the NS will be recognized by the government authorities considering my visa application! He is a good man but I learned he and many other ministers can't really help the families in Singapore like in the case of my two younger sons aged 15 and 17 where when their mother passed away, could not have their father to be home in Singapore to care for them. (Click here to know what happened)

It is interesting to note the military career that Mr Chan had before he became a member of parliament. He served in the Singapore Army from 1987 to 2011. His appointments included Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (1998-2000), Army Attaché in Jakarta (2001–03), Commander of the 10th Singapore Infantry Brigade (2003–04), Head of the Joint Plans and Transformation Department (2005–07), Commander of the 9th Division / Chief Infantry Officer (2007–09), and Chief of Staff - Joint Staff (2009–10).

He was appointed the Chief of Army on 26 March 2010 (replacing Major-General Neo Kian Hong). He left the Singapore Armed Forces on 25 March 2011 in order to stand for Parliament (and was replaced as Chief of Army by Brigadier-General Ravinder Singh).

We wish Shuan all the best in the next 2 years of National Service and may he give heed to the advice of Mr Chan Chun Sing! I will accompany him to report to the training centre at Tekong island in the morning and see what I can share later of the facilities that will be viewed in a planned tour for visitors like me.

Postdated Development events follow from here onwards :
The experience of seeing him off at the Singapore Armed Forces Basic Military Training Centre (SAF BMTC) is captured in this video below :

Before start of confinement on 13 Aug 2013


After end of confinement 3rd weekend later

At home after almost 3 weeks of confinement at the SAF BMTC

Sample meal at SAF BMTC

Sample meal at home

A long before and long after Father-Son pic

7 Weeks after entry to SAF BMTC

Put on 4kg already with more lean muscles

Another long before and long after Father-Son pic

9 Weeks after entry to SAF BMTC

I was told on the last weekend before Saturday 12th October 2013 by Private Chong, being the date set for the Basic Military Training (BMT) Graduation Parade, that all of the recruits will have to pack everything that belongs to them to fit into their back packs by Friday night.  Then from the Tekong site, they will march in the middle of the night with a full pack to the graduation site, being the longest march they would ever have had ie a distance of 24km to reach the Marina Bay Floating Platform where the 'Passing Off' for all the recruits will take place. Here I am packing a full gear myself in KL but not marching to Singapore but driving off in the middle of the night to the same final destination, praying for my son that he doesn't 'Pass Out' before he gets to 'Pass Off' at the spectacular floating platform in Marina Bay!

Full report to be covered here soon! I may get some time to 'pass out' at the rest stop off the highway but not too long or I will miss the 'passing off' parade of my son!!!  Pray for the both of us!!

Graduation Parade Day 

Looks like all the boys made it as they were all gathered smartly on the floating platform in Marina Bay with their full back-packs!

Then they began marching past the crowd of supportive parents, family members and friends

How beautifully they marched out of the floating platform!

What a beautiful sight indeed to see the 'passing off' graduation parade with the scenic skyline of Singapore in the background

Then they came back again....

1, 2, 3....4!!!!

Hurrrrrrrrrayyyyyyy the Boys are now Men as they throw their caps in the air to celebrate!!!!!!

The soldiers and crowd went crazy!!!

What a BIG MESS of PEOPLE!!!

The Father and Son did it!!!!

The floating platform is now crowded with parents and friends 

It is not easy trying to find our group in the condensed crowd

Knowing he is from Kestrel company does help!

The following are some of the shots taken with his commanding officers that helped turn him to become a soldier during the past 9 weeks of intense training :


I can feel that his Mom is also very happy over the day's event!

Here is a video clip of the Graduation Parade :

7 Days after graduation

While back in KL on the following weekend of his graduation for Dad's school/class reunion function, I received an email from Private Chong of the announcement of his posting to Officer Cadet School (OCS) that he had just received!  This is great news which means not only did he pass the physical fitness tests well during his Basic Military Training (BMT) but was judged to be able to have a good head as well to make quick or responsive decisions to qualify him for this OCS posting. This would mean that he will be entering the elite course to be trained as an officer that will lead to a promotion in his rank with higher pay when he eventually is posted to a selected division of the arm forces ie the land, water or air, after he graduates from the OCS.

While back to Singapore, I received a letter of October 18 sent out to Parent(s)/Guardian(s) to first congratulate the son's/daughter's successful entry into Officer Cadet School (OCS), SAFTI Military Institute (SAFTI MI) and also to invite them to a FamilyVisit Day on 27th Oct 2013

From the letter, we can tell he has been selected to be trained under Air Wing Platoon 2. There will be further postings here, after the family day visit, as then only will I get to know more about the Officer Cadet Course and gain a better understanding of OCS and what will be the experience for Shuan.

Family Visit Day

Ah... so we see that the immediate perks of being trained as an Officer besides rank and pay rise is getting a two room bedroom as compared to the previous 8 bedded room at BMTC

They also get more shelf space to keep their things

They also now get a nicer black bag to carry home by hand grip with no shoulder straps, so as to look smarter wearing a new white long sleeve shirt and black pants attire which I can only photograph the next weekend when he comes home! There aren't any green colors in the attire and no sewn-on military patches as in his previous uniform to go home in but has a small pin on his collar I was told. 

The two trainee officers in the room have their own study table with individual laptops provided with wifi access. Looking on, reflected on the wardrobe mirror, is our close family friend John Lee whose son had been through here before in the army. John was a helpful guide to get me to the OCS in the Jurong area fast from our Church meeting. 
We're in the laundry room where he shows us the other colored apparels used for exercises or sports that they are provided.
We're looking at the secured door with huge pad locks where their guns of all officers are kept when not used by them.
After inspecting all sections of his quarters as seen above, we proceeded to inspect other building as the VIPs for the day!
We went up a tall narrow tower where the Officer Cadets normally have to run up but we could use the elevators. Unfortunately the tower can be viewed only in the video below that I shot of it.

This is how high up we were like in an aeroplane to see the view below of the grounds where the officer cadets commissioning parade for the OCS will be held.

Soon it was time for us to head to the auditorium building....

.... where all the family visitors could learn more about the OCS

The crowd was then led to the Officers Cadet Mess...

...where refreshments were served 

...and visitors could integrate with the senior commanders

Shuan was surprised one of them named Chiong could remember him personally

Here he is with another senior in blue colored uniforms

OCS Tango Wing Social Night on Jan 15, 2014 - Date with Germaine Tan

Jungle Confidence Course from 15- 23 Mar  2014 at Lakiun Camp, Brunei

The Jungle Confidence Course is a gruelling 9 day course that all Infantry Officer Cadets go through as part of their overseas training. The course consists of navigating through dense forests, thick vegetation and erratic weather and is conducted in tough, unfamiliar overseas terrains. Additionally, there is a survival phase where they are left alone and will have to survive for 3 days with only the most basic of tools.

The last phase of the Jungle Confidence Course is a race against time to trek back to camp after enduring 8 days of mental and physical trials. The cadets are deposited on random sites and are expected to navigate back to camp. They are assessed based on the time they take to reach back to camp.

Shuan successfully completed it to receive the certificate below :

The video below gives an idea of what the officer cadets had to go through :

After the Lakiun Camp, Shuan was sent to Thailand where he had to face hot weather for further training.

After 9 months of Officer Cadet School

20th July 2014 
Officer Cadets Commissioning Parade

9 months go by very quickly and it's time for Shuan to have his Officer Cadets Commissioning Parade at the SAFTI Military Institute premises in Jurong. He has gone through tougher training as an officer than the others non-officers who have continued their national service 9 months earlier who were already assigned or posted to serve in the various divisions of the armed forces of Singapore.  He will be commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant and will be posted to be a platoon commander in the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) on Tekong island where he was first trained as a fresh recruit. He will now be in charge of training new recruits sent to the BMTC.

There was a personal invitation card for me to witness the Officer Cadets Commissioning Parade at the SAFTI Military Institute which includes a dinner for parents. Han our oldest came representative of mom.

Shuan had informed us where to sit exactly to be right in front of him. He is the 6th person from the right in the front row of the 1st contingent of the parade ie the group to march out first.

The parade ground is near the tower seen in the back ground. 9 months earlier on family visit day, we were up at the top to view the parade ground anticipating this special day for Shuan

Seen is the tall Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance making his inspection of the parade starting with the 1st contingent. You can see 2nd Lieutenant Shuan Chong in the front row with the arrow. In the video of live marching, always count no 6 from the right in the front row or starting with the cadet officer with the red beret at the right end to know where Shuan is!

Ok click on the pics below and count 6th from the right ie starting with the commando with the red beret to spot Shuan :

Towards the end of all the marching in the parade, all the cadets stood still on the parade ground to allow the parents and family members to walk up to them to remove their cadet rank on their shoulders to replace them with the new rank with a single stripe representing the rank of 2nd lieutenant.
We had done it for Shuan as recorded in the video below.

We took a quick group photo of all of us together with Shuan before having to clear the parade ground for the final part of the commissioning parade celebration!

The commissioned officers all had to repeat the officers creed out loud before going into full celebration mode kicking off with the tradition of throwing their hats up high in the air! The video action of the throwing of hats can be viewed here.

Watch the video below to see the action, excitement and cheers of the crowd for the new officers of the Singapore Armed Forces.  The special post parade dinner will also be covered in the video.

See the special surprise close to the end of the video that will amaze you of love in Singapore!

Photos in the Dining Hall after the parade :

Small world for Han to find that one of the violinist providing the music for the evening is from his old ACJC school.

Postdated event :

The Lieutenant in the army completed his service to his country faithfully in 2016, saved enough money to pay his own way to serve a voluntary 2 year missionary service for his Church. He couldn't leave the country without being forced by the Singapore government's legal control to be a citizen of Singapore first, else he had to pay back for all his subsidized tuition fees since he transferred to Singapore to become a PR when the base of our family moved to Singapore in 2007. The account of Lieutenant Chong receiving his mission call to become Elder Chong is found here.

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