If you can’t detect how I feel about this enlistees being given the option to choose their vocation during National Service, then for the record, I hate it.
WHAT THEY SAY
Besides factors such as physical fitness, suitability to perform tasks and operational requirements, now PRE-Enlistees’ interest are also taken into consideration when they are going to get posted to varies vocation in army.
“The whole intent of this initiative is to encourage greater ownership by our servicemen in the roles they will play during NS,” – Assistant chief of general staff (personnel) of the army, Colonel Yew Chee Leung
“This initiative… will further encourage our Home Team national servicemen to take greater ownership of their contributions in ensuring Singapore’s safety and security.” – Mr Rupert Gwee, director of National Service Affairs Directorate at MHA
WHAT I REALLY SEE
They are pre-enlistees, so how much do they know about which vocation to join? Sure, they have some videos and handbooks to help but are we sure that is enough? In that case, can I also learn how to defend the country using YouTube?
No doubt these information are available, but too often we might not fully understand the vocation and they might choose something without knowing what fits them best. Not forgetting how people might overestimate their own abilities. What if they select something that they totally can’t perform well? Are we going to redeploy him? If redeployment is possible, does that mean everyone can post in and out whenever and hence causing more potential operation issues?
System abuse is another point to consider as well. With our infamous “chao keng” soldiers, what if they all want an “easy life” and select vocations such as storeman and clerk? Additionally, based on my army experience, many would choose to become a driver because of the “perks” of getting a free civilian license. In that case, who would want to do the “dirty work”? Some vocation are more popular than others for the wrong reasons. Wouldn’t that mean that CMPB will still have to sort them based on demand and supply once again?
Based on current system, some of us are being allocated to certain vocation based on our educational backgrounds. For example, I graduated with a Diploma in Computer Engineering and with sound knowledge of networks and systems, I was deployed as a signaller. During my service, I was able to understand and complete my task effectively. Now, Imagine if I prefer to be a driver or a store man and because of this new system, I will now become a driver. (To be honest, with my far less than superb driving skills that my friends can vouch for, I am doing the country great service by NOT driving.)
Yet on the other hand, you might have someone who doesn’t know much about being a signaller but simply because he indicates interest and hence got posted to become a signaller and does his job as “well” as I drive. Wouldn’t this then cause a great mismatch in proficiency and resources?
You are given a choice and so is everyone else, but does everyone get what they want? From what I’m reading, the answer is No. If everyone ain’t given a choice and it’s all based on assessment of demand and supply, nobody will make noise. But once they are given some option, people will demand for “fairness” and demand for transparency in system. How come Ah Beng gets to go where he wanted but I didn’t? Is it based on some balloting system? What is it based on? First come first served? Sounds like we are heading for another primary school admission exercise nightmare. Are we then going to invite the whole family to come and watch the balloting process then?