National Service or National Pride

Reference to LionsXII Shakir Hamzah’s Detention Barrack sentence, there’s been much discussion on my Facebook update with regards to this.

Shakir, being a Singapore Police Force NSF, now has to serve 4 days of Detention for AWOL (Absence Without Official Leave) having left Singapore to play in Kuantan, Malaysia, for a soccer match.

No one can be certainly sure of the facts of the case but one thing for sure was, since he was sentenced for AWOL and Disobedience of Orders, it can only indicate a few things:

  1. He didn’t apply for leave from official work
  2. He was supposed to be working on his last few days of NS
  3. He applied for leave but was denied by his supervisor
  4. He applied for leave but didn’t have enough leave or OIL (Off In Lieu)
  5. He applied for leave but didn’t have enough leave or OIL and was advised by his supervisor not to play or risk going to DB
  6. He applied for leave but didn’t have enough leave or OIL, was advised by his supervisor not to play or risk going to DB and challenged his supervisor to do so

Now, there’s a lot of talk about why he shouldn’t be sent to DB as he was representing Singapore and that should be considered a form of National Service.

Unfortunately, LionsXII is not the Singapore national team, despite it playing in the name of the Republic of Singapore.

Based on what was stated by the spokesman of the Singapore Police Force, I’d say very likely it was No 5 – ‘He applied for leave but didn’t have enough leave or OIL, was advised by his supervisor not to play or risk going to DB’.

As a Police Officer, I’m sure he’s also very aware of the famous tagline worn around camp by instructors, “No One Is Above The Law”.


Unfortunately, Singapore is a country filled with laws to govern its citizens and one of the laws which most Singaporean men despise, is the National Service Act. It doesn’t require you to serve for 2 years whole-heartedly, it also requires you to keep the government constantly updated on any changes with regards to your:

  1. Occupation
  2. Marital Status
  3. Address
  4. Bank Account
  5. and if they could, they probably also want to know if you are still the same gender or not.

Even when travelling overseas, one is required to keep the government updated on your whereabouts. This is done by submitting an Overseas Notification or via application of an Exit Permit.

For Singaporeans who are extremely angry about this guy not being let off the hook for representing Singapore, I think it’s all about just looking at the bigger picture based on the scenarios I have painted out.

Sure, perhaps his officer in charge could have granted him leave based on discretion. This would assume that he has exhausted his Annual Leave and OIL, BUT that would cause much unhappiness amongst his other colleagues should they find out about it.

There’d be calls for the supervisor being biased, just because he is playing soccer for Singapore. Now, that would put the supervisor, who is probably a regular, in deep shit himself.

Why would anyone want to risk his rice bowl for an NSF?

The supervisor probably has a family to feed and debts to pay off and as much as perhaps he would like to be lenient and let Shakir off the hook, he’d be liable for complaints at the end of the day and be punished himself (Termination of Contract).

So, in all fairness, “Police NSF Special Constable Muhammad Shakir Hamzah was charged with one count of absence without official leave and one count of disobedience of orders,” a spokesman for the Singapore Police Force confirmed. this actually puts things into perspective as to why the reason for why he was sentenced to DB was reason No 5.

And unless the government decides to make constitutional changes to the National Service Act, you better toe in line.

Just in case you were wondering how the Detention Barracks at Civil Defence Academy looks like, I can give you a mental picture of how it looks like based on what I can remember on my visit there.

There’s a yellow box in the cell for each detainee. They need to sit in that yellow box at certain periods. No talking allowed. No movements allowed. There’s a shared toilet cubicle in there as well. I think they are allowed out of their cell for an hour a day only for ‘exercise’.

(This is not considered Official Secrets Act right? I don’t think so. I’m doing you a favour anyway Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force by explaining to others what life could be like in there)

At the end of the day, it’s just 4 days. I was almost sent to DB for 14 days for a recorded offence during my NS.

But the person everyone should be pointing fingers at is the Disciplinary Officer who meted out the sentence cause at the end of the day, it’s that guy who makes the decision BUT then again, he’s just doing his job in accordance to the Police Pledge:

“Without Fear or Favour”

Someone did things without Fear and someone meted out things without Favour.

Nice way to end it huh?

3 thoughts on “National Service or National Pride

  1. Once upon a time, NS was a necessary evil when it was introduced after our independence. Having also completed my obligation, I have found in my prime, it was a hindrance to my social development. It was a waste of my life (2 years and another 6 years of career disruption for on reservist) which was stagnated and nothing to rave about.

    It had mentally affected me. Even after 30 years, I drew a blank except those punishments that were served to me unjustifiably by the daft corporals and officers and those field exercises that we performed was like just going through the motion that had no implication of the rationale behind them.

    Thinking back, those punishments I had to endure had crippled me psychologically. I am not complaining about the physical aspect but after ROD, I was not able consolidate my thought process to begin plotting my career path.

    NS is an obligation, and resigning to sacrifice 2 or 21/2 years, that did not help in personnel development. As young adults, we acted like fools because there was nothing positive to look forward to except to count the days to ROD.

    Now living overseas, I find the young adults who are still in high school even in University are very resourceful. Studying and working at this age helps them to plot their future. They experience the real life environment and challenges to prepare them for better career choices.

    In my opinion, the young men of Singapore are very disadvantaged because of NS. I am sure the Government can move to redesign this obsolete convocation of military program and help young Singaporean men to serve the country more productively. 2 years of NS is a retardation of young creative minds.

    Maybe, Military training can be remodeled as institution to also provide other trades or vocational program. This may even provide more value for Singapore in filling the gaps for foreign labour or FT. Just think about the possibilities. There is no need for us to build a military stronghold when SEA is very stable already.

    Let those who are willing and dedicated to be professionals to take care of our national security matters. NS is an obligation and nothing more. 2 years is 2 years too long. Why stifle the young in the military when they can be honed to better contribute to Singapore economically. With that we may not have to depend on FT.


    • NS, will forever be a liability.

      Not sure if the tangible or intangible positives can be seen by those who go through it but there’s definitely a lot of people expressing the tangible and intangible negatives.

      A lot of lives have been lost in the name of National Service and along with it, their future and hopes of their family.

      Hopefully, there can be changes to the NS in the future.


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