Photo credit: Bao Menglong via Unsplash

Serving NS during the circuit breaker

NS recruits share their thoughts on serving their NS during the circuit breaker.

Low Jia Ying
Low Jia Ying

Published: 25 May 2020, 10:24 AM

It was announced last week that National Service training will progressively resume for recruits from May 26 onwards.

All basic military training for incoming National Service recruits were suspended previously on Apr 6 because of the circuit breaker.

During this suspension, recruits will be administratively enlisted, but will have to stay home during their basic training period.

NS is often seen as an important milestone and a unifying experience for most Singaporean men, but this year’s batch of recruits have had a very different experience from previous batches because of COVID-19 measures.

Youth.SG spoke to four current and upcoming recruits to understand their thoughts about serving their NS during the circuit breaker.

Missing out on key milestones and events in an NSFs’ life

Timothy, who was administratively enlisted during the circuit breaker, shared that he was disappointed that he will miss out on witnessing his friends’ hair being shaved – something that he and his friends had been looking forward to for a long time.

“It’s also sad that we will have to spend our last months as civilians stuck at home with nowhere to go,” said the 20-year-old, who didn’t want to divulge his last name.

On the other hand, Ethan, who enlisted a few days before the circuit breaker came into effect, said he was disappointed that his family couldn’t do the traditional send-off for him at Tekong.

Safe distancing in camps before the circuit breaker was announced also meant that recruits couldn’t socialise with their section mates easily.

“Interacting with my section mates was difficult because we had to maintain a 1-metre distance apart at all times, even during mealtimes or in the bunk,” said the 19-year-old, who wanted to be known by only his first name.

Restrictions on activities

Ethan also shared that he was looking forward to more activities as part of his NS, but these have all been suspended even before the circuit breaker.

“All the fun sports like swimming and contact sports are cancelled, there’s no more shooting as well,” said Ethan.

While serving NS from home, recruits still have to take their temperatures thrice daily and submit them online.

They also have to ask for permission to leave their homes, and will need to report their locations everyday.

Disappointed with delays

Justin Ho, 20, who has not been given an enlistment date because of the suspension, was concerned that the delay would affect his career prospects.

“I’m afraid that it would impact my future negatively as I might have to complete my NS during my university holidays, missing out on internship opportunities,” he shared.

Marcus Tan, 21, was also worried that the delay would affect his further studies.

“I was hoping that I could enlist in June or July, so that I could ORD in time for the academic year in University to start,” he said. Marcus’ Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), which one has to pass before enlisting was postponed till further notice.

Pleased with the more relaxed environment

Serving NS from home, however, comes as a welcome change for some recruits, as they prefer the more relaxed environment at home as compared to an army camp.

“I feel that it is kinda lucky for my friends who have already enlisted, they are having an easier time now than compared to when they were in camp,” said Marcus.

Ethan shared that although his NS activities that he has to do at home disrupts his family’s routines, it is still better than living in camp.

Timothy said: “This was not at all the NS experience I had in mind but it’s good to know that I have one month less being spent inside an army camp.”

Justin was also thankful that recruits’ health was being looked after by being told to stay home.

Although this batch of recruits may not get to experience the same milestones and events that previous batches of NSmen have had, there is no doubt that their experience will be the most unique.


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