Tag Archives: SAF

IS EDUCATION MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT TALKING COCK?

every_job_is_good_job_talking_cockCome I clap for you. Some job in reality is more equal than others

Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat said in his speech during the Committee of Supply (Education) debate last Friday there is a need for the country to embark on changes to transport the education landscape which needs collective will by employers, educators, students and society. Continue reading IS EDUCATION MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT TALKING COCK?

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Do Muslims in Singapore condemn ISIS?

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(Photo: The Straits Times)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke in Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan last week and affirmed Singapore’s intention of becoming a partner in a global coalition in countering the escalating threat of ISIS.

Lee specifically mentioned this is a battle against terrorism and a long haul strategy to secure the safety of Singapore and her citizens as ISIS ideology and recruitment methods are very effective in attracting foreign fighters to join its ranks, ironically, by using the media tools invented by the West.  The Singapore authorities have already detected Singaporean extremists who are fighting for ISIS. I doubt we need these extremists Muslims back in Singapore to spread their wayward views.

Lee did not lay out detailed plans about Singapore’s potential involvement. His speech was simply an assurance to the world that Singapore does not condone terrorism. The theme of the Asia-Europe Summit was “Responsible Partnership for Sustainable Growth and Security” and it is politically correct for Lee to express intentions that is beneficial to Singapore and her global partners.

Despite the lack of details,  Muslim Singaporeans in “I am Against Pinkdot” Facebook group have already jumped the gun and assumed that Singapore will send her F15SG fighter jets to bombard their ISIS “Muslim brothers” and ranted about American imperialism & their military industrial complex.  Syed Daniel even said that the coalition are cowards who dare not send in group troops.

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(Screen captures: Syed Daniel’s Facebook page)

He went on to explain the “difference between not supporting ISIS and supporting the coalition to bomb Iraq and Syria” because he is concerned about the health ill-effects the bombardment could bring to the civilians in Iraq & Syria. But in his carefully worded emotional appeals, he has never once condemn the atrocities of ISIS but instead chose to highlight that Singapore may be a focal point for terrorism and the cons for joining the coalition. He has also omitted the fact that ISIS fighters are hiding within civilian compounds.

In my earlier post, I wrote that the Singapore Armed Forces appear to have a distrust towards Singaporean Malays but postings by Syed Daniel justifies SAF’s manpower policies. Singaporeans in the past have expressed discontent over the suppression of discussion that is deemed religiously or racially insensitive in nature but the free flow of information also help Singaporeans to understand the underlying reasons for certain policies.

If Singaporeans such as Syed Daniel do not condemn ISIS, then I am curious what are their views of ISIS. Some even went on to the extend to suggest that the beheading videos by ISIS were staged by the CIA.

When David Horowitz asked a Muslim student in University of California San Diego pointedly whether she condemn Hamas, he got a non-committed response possibly due to fears of reprisal from her own Muslim community. Is that what Singaporean Muslims fear as well?

admin-we-are-against-pinkdot(Syed Daniel is the Administrator of “We are Against Pinkdot” Facebook group, an anti-LGBT group.)

I believe moderate Singaporean Muslims need not have the fear of speaking out against ISIS and extremism groups because their practice of moderate Islam is different from the hate that extremism groups are preaching (unless they think otherwise).  I still have faith that moderate Singaporean Muslims do not regard ISIS fighters as their Muslim brothers.

 

SAF volunteer corps – The divide deepens

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(Photo: The Singapore Army Facebook Page)

The SAF has introduced the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) for new citizens, permanent residents to contribute their time and sweat to Singapore’s national defence, regardless of their gender.

On first glance it look like the government is eager to build up national cohesiveness thanks to the liberal open door policy that led to the divide between Singaporeans and new Singaporeans with the latter taking advantage of the benefits of PR for several years before taking up citizenship.

But the setup of SAFVC is going to undo what the government has been trying to do. The government has always viewed conscription as a privilege to defend the nation, in contrary to what most Singaporeans think.

The SAFVC is effectively extending this privilege to new citizens. The Straits Times gave an overview of SAFVC on 12 October 2014 and I’m sure it shocked many that VC recruits are only required to undergo 4 weeks of training. But it is presumably that SAFVC is going to allow new citizens with the necessary experience to boost the support capabilities of SAF hence the 4 weeks of training is to simply induct the new citizens.

The ST report has given a good overview of the vocations that are available for SAFVC for now.

(Infographic: The Straits Times)

The choice of vocations available for SAFVC is contentious. It is an unspoken rule that Singaporeans of a certain race & faith are barred from certain sensitive vocations (because they put their religious belief above the state). But SAFVC has opened up C4 Expertise vocation and Naval Combat Engineering vocation for new citizens. So a former PRC national who has been a new Singapore citizen for one year is more trustworthy than a born-and-bred Singaporean who has lived here all his life?

What about the rank hierarchy? Will Singaporean regular soldiers or conscripts be pleased if they know a SAFVC soldier who has been through only 4 weeks of training has the authority to mete punishments? What is the highest appointment a SAFVC soldier can be appointed to? What is their rank equivalent to regular ranks?

Has the SAF created a problem to solve a problem?

A Question of Loyalty?

Palestinian militants are trading rockets with Israel again. Israel retaliated by launching air strikes against Hamas military sites in Gaza and re-calling 40,000 military reserves. The latest skirmish was seemingly sparked off after 3 Israeli teenager hikers were found murdered in West Bank [Link]. Jewish extremists retaliated by burning a Palestinian teenager alive [Link]. I am trivializing their decades of bloodshed to say these murders are the causes of the latest military offensive.

It is curiously interesting to observe Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issuing statements [Link ] condemning the murder of the Israeli teens & calls for restrain on the escalation of violence [Link]. Singapore has avoided mentioning support for Israel publicly in the past. What is worrying are the responses of Malay Muslim netizens towards these press statements. They voiced out strongly to pledge support for Palestinians, condemn Israel and dissatisfied that Singapore had took sides with Israel [Link 1 , Link 2].

In Parliament this week, DPM Teo Chee Hean revealed there are Singaporean Muslims participating in the recent Syria conflict and there are plans by others to do so [Link]. Instead of distancing themselves from these wayward Singaporeans, the Malay community has shocked non-Malay Singaporeans by passing cynical remarks against Teo and expressing support for these Singaporeans in Syria [Link 1, Link 2].

These cynics have probably forgotten that a SAF officer Muhammad Ali bin Abd Al-Rahman who held the rank of Major had become a Islamic terrorist in Philippines. He was killed in an air-strike [Link].

It has become apparent that religious tie is the factor that invoked the sympathy of local Malay community towards conflicts that are distant from Singapore.

The Malay community has always griped of discrimination in the military – such as the lack of Malay Muslim soldiers in certain SAF vocations and SAF units. This contentious issue has been raised several times by politicians on internet [Link] and in parliament [Link]. I had served in sensitive vocations in the SAF, but my superiors never told me the reasons for not having Malay Muslims soldiers in my unit.

I had Indian mates, Chinese mates and Eurasian mates then but we did not ask that question. There seems to be an unspoken common understanding.

To be entrusted by SAF to serve in sensitive vocations means they have faith that you will place country above everything else. I guess it is up to different communities to prove it.

Perhaps I should get a copy of Lee Kuan Yew’s Hard Truth book.