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Pampered soldiers? Blame the parents

Pampered soldiers? Blame the parents

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For every pampered Gen Y soldier out there, there are thousands more who are fiercely independent, says full-time National Serviceman Shawn Lim.

IT’S coming to a year since I’ve last blogged, but now I couldn’t resist finally writing in my Moleskine notebook. How apt is it that my last blog post the same topic too.

You would all know by now that a picture involving a maid carrying a backpack for a full-time National Serviceman has generated furore online.  The picture was first posted on Facebook, and soon after, it went viral.

STOMP picked it up, The Straits Times picked it up and as you can always expect from Singaporeans, a big brouhaha was created. It has even resulted in many parodies, such as the one on the left.

Suddenly, every man in my generation who has ever served National Service (NS) or who are serving NS were stereotyped with statements like ‘Aiyo, Gen Y soldiers are softies leh’, ‘Gen Y soldiers too pampered lah’.

But I understand the angry and disappointed reactions from men who have been through NS. Men’s Health writer, Khazmin Juma’In summed it up best when he wrote ‘For many of us guys, it’s a big slap across the face because we’ve all been through (NS)’

Let me put on record that for every Gen Y soldier that you see in the picture above, there are thousands more who are fiercely independent. So nope, Gen Y soldiers are not ‘sisses’, ‘softies’ or whatever that is being labelled on us just because of one picture.

While I draw the line at maids, or even parents helping their sons/employer’s son to wash their uniforms or picking them up from camps, carrying their field pack is downright disgraceful and unacceptable.

Yes, granted that we men have no choice but to serve the nation since it’s a conscripted army, most of us understand that through this process, it will toughen us up and help us grow up.

Basic Military Training in the SAF includes a mandatory confinement where new recruits are not allowed to go home for 2 weeks and are forced to be independent in a new surrounding with new friends and with commanders barking orders at them.

BMT changes a boy’s perception of things, forces him to think of who will he defend when Singapore goes to war. This process is what changes a boy in to a man. Looks like the boy in the picture above did not learn anything.

The boy (I’m refusing to call this recruit a man or even a soldier), has sadly, not seen the significance of serving NS.

There is a belief in some quarters that Gen Y soldiers are ‘spoilt’ and ‘soft’ because their parents pampered them or allowed their maids to treat their sons like kings.

I fully agree with that observation. Yes, the boy is in the wrong in asking the maid to hold his field pack, but the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the parents.

If you think that this Gen Y is too ‘soft’, it gets worse. In a previous blog post, ‘Spoilt kids: Whose fault?’, I observed maids and parents still feeding kids who looked old enough to eat their food themselves.

General Elections are upon us soon. Calls for the voting age to be reduced from 21 to 18 has been getting louder since the last election.

The argument is that since 18 year olds are already taught to hold a rifle (18 is the age where Singaporean males are conscripted), why can’t they have a say in Singapore’s politics? I hold firm to this argument. But pictures like those above doesn’t help people like me in our quest for the voting the age to be reduced.

It is a vicious cycle. This boy in the picture is being treated like a king by his maid, and he will most likely allow his children to be treated the same way.

Parents, get the picture already? We need men, not boys to defend Singapore when push comes to shove.

This article was originally published on Shawn’s blog. Edited and republished with permission.

To read about how the SAF is allegedly on a manhunt now for the maid and the boy, click here.

To find out who is REALLY behind the photo, click here.