Now Mr Wang will predict the most probable outcome of this matter. Of course I hope I am wrong, but this is what I predict will happen:
1. Some cowardly high-ranking MINDEF officer will make the cover-ass, stupid but eminently defensible decision to not allow Ike's NS deferment.
2. (".... National Service is very important. It is the duty of every male Singaporean to serve NS. We must be fair and impartial. National Service is a character-building experience that makes our boys men ... ") [take the Defence Minister's last SAF Day speech & cut & paste miscellaneous other blah blah blah statements.]
3. Unthinking Singaporeans will nod their heads approvingly.
4. Ike See will do his NS and become another perfectly mediocre, ordinary, faceless corporal or sergeant out of 20,000 other perfectly mediocre, ordinary, faceless NSF corporals and sergeants in the SAF.
5. Upon ORD, he will do a desperate rush to make up for the precious lost years in his musical training. He will realise that to do this, he can't afford to stay in Singapore any longer (this will be the only valuable lesson he will learn from his NS years - but it will be an immensely valuable lesson).
6. He leaves Singapore. For good.
7. In time, some future PAP Minister for the Arts who had never known or will have forgotten Ike See will say, "Oh, Singapore must aspire to be a world-class hub for the arts. Singaporeans lack creativity and talent but we must encourage what we have, and create alternative avenues of success in our society."
Meanwhile MINDEF will continue to grant NS deferments to male PSC Overseas Merit Scholars. Year after year after year, as schools like RJC and NJC and VJC continue to manufacture, by the hundreds, perfectly straight-A students who have memorised their way to great success in standardised exam formats. While the really rare, special ones - like Ike See - will continue to be overlooked, and will continue to languish.
- Read full article..
As they say, the sky is the limit for artists and musicians in Singapore. But this understandably poses a great dilemma and paradox. Because the entire idea of National Service is founded on the basis that every male has his patriotic and equal duty to serve and defend his country, regardless of religion, race, or sexual orientation. Even the Jahovah's Witness have to compromise their own religious values to be considered 'Singaporean'. By granting deferment to some individuals, one could start to get the impression that equality in the Singaporean military's context doesn't exactly come without its fine print. What defines the boundaries of making one worthy of NS deferment? Why do these 'elitists' retain the right to call themselves Singaporean while others dedicate 2 - 3 years of the better part of their youth?
It may be for such reasons to prevent opening the floodgates of ethical discussion, that Ike See (the gifted musician in question) will have to do NS. All this at the expense of one boy's future. And Mr Wang has realistically noted the great sense of irony that this boy may one day come to realise. Everything that was done in the name of "character-building" has worked against his own future. In the end, he will become simply another patriot lost, and a talent wasted, while Singapore scratches its head wondering where the talent went.