NS55: Different eras, same undertaking

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Mr Lim Jun Wei Jeremy (left) and his father-in-law, Mr Neo Thiam Loon (right) have stories to tell about their experiences in serving the nation.

In celebration of NS55, a father-in-law and son-in-law duo share their National Service experiences.

TEXT: MHA

PHOTO: JEREMY LIM

Full-time National Service (NS) is an essential part of our nationhood and a rite of passage for every Singaporean son. While the NS landscape may have evolved over the decades, the experience each enlistee goes through is unforgettable and one that is shared from generation to generation.

Father-in-law and son duo, Neo Thiam Loon, 67, and Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) officer, Sgt 3 (V) Lim Jun Wei Jeremy, 34, can attest to this. Both have served their NS with unwavering dedication, pride and strength to keep Singapore safe and peaceful. And both have stories to tell.

KEEPING OUR STREETS SAFE

Mr Lim served with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as a frontline Ground Response Force (GRF) officer. As he was deployed to Choa Chu Kang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC), his duties include patrolling the neighbourhood and responding to incidents and disputes.

“Serving NS with the SPF was an eye-opening experience and, I dare say, one of the most defining moments of my life,” says the VSC officer. “I remember a mother who called the Police for assistance when her son went missing. We were activated to search for the boy and within a few hours, we found him and returned him home. It was really heartening to see the family reunited,” he adds.

EVOLVING WITH THE TIMES

From the days of tougher training regimes and stricter commanders to lengthy queues at the payphone to make calls home, NS has evolved with advancements in technology, better welfare and a changing threat environment.

On the technological front, Mr Lim points out that his law-enforcing duties have been made easier with devices such as body-worn cameras and neighbourhood police cameras that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of policing. On the other hand, frontline officers face greater public scrutiny when carrying out their roles, as social media is now a significant part of our daily lives.

Mr Neo, who served his NS in 1978, was free from such concerns but his cohort faced a different set of challenges. “Basic Military Training (BMT) was very different from what we see on television today. It was ‘tough love’ as some may call it, but conditions have changed. And a different generation of crimes and offenses warrants a different kind of training,” says the NS pioneer, who served as a Lance Corporal Regimental Police with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Mr Neo also recalls queueing up for the orange payphone to make calls to his family during his recruit days. “You cannot drop in another 10 cents to extend your call as there are many others waiting in line behind you,” he says.

Compared to the ’70s, Mr Neo agrees that servicemen now enjoy better accommodation, food and monthly allowance, as well as have caring commanders who spend time getting to know the recruits under their charge. But when it comes to sacrifice, resilience, pride and first-time experiences, there is little difference across generations. “The most memorable part of NS would be the experience of firing a rifle at the live firing range. Not forgetting all those days in the jungle for field training and surviving them without showering for numerous days,” says Mr Neo.

CARRY ON SERVING

As an Operationally Ready NSman, Mr Lim serves as a Police Contact Tactics (PCT) Adjunct Trainer with the Jurong Police Division, as well as volunteering with the VSC under the Traffic Police. He believes his NS stint has taught him important values that have shaped him and encouraged him to continue serving the nation through volunteering.

“NS taught me three main values – responsibility (having a great sense of pride and duty to serve the nation), resilience (staying optimistic through hard times) and reinstatement (restoring peace to the public so that everyone can live in a better environment),” says Mr Lim.

In response to his son-in-law’s role as a Home Team volunteer, Mr Neo says: “I am very proud and supportive of Jeremy’s decision to be part of the Home Team Volunteer Network (HTVN). As a Home Team volunteer, he demonstrates his servant leadership by going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Mr Lim encourages everyone to do likewise – to make a difference and contribute back to society.

Find out more how you can make a difference in your community. Volunteer with the Home Team Volunteer Network today!

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