Sunday 27 April 2014

Why does it seem Aware is treating NSmen like the enemy?

Something must be wrong with me. I feel a little ill.

It’s Aware’s fault.

Yes, the Association of Women for Action and Research is at it again.

Last week, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said that the Government is coming up with a set of “meaningful” benefits to recognise the efforts of NSmen “by giving them a greater stake in Singapore, whether it’s housing, health or education”.

In response to this news, Aware posted on its Facebook page:
“Every person deserves access to housing, education and healthcare, because these are basic requirements for human sustenance and social participation.

“Aware disagrees strongly with any link between support for fundamental needs and an individual’s status as an NSman, especially when the military may not be suitable for many people, regardless of their gender.

“Aware has long maintained that military service should not be held up as the single gold standard of citizen belonging – an approach which this proposal threatens to intensify, creating different tiers of people with different social entitlements and worth.”
Almost right away, Aware kena tekan online like a sotong recruit on Tekong.

Aware seems to be saying that “access” to basic needs are given only to NSmen when that’s clearly not the case. I shall resist any puns about Aware being unaware.

Why doesn’t Aware “disagree strongly” with the link between getting the Jubilee Baby Gift and the year a baby is born? What sacrifices have these infants made for the country? They’re not even born yet.

This latest affront to NSmen comes after last year’s Purple Light episode, which also irked a few army guys.

Aware even gloated about it on Facebook:
“Ever wonder if speaking up about sexism really creates change? Here’s one case where it has!

“Earlier (last) year, Aware learned of Purple Light, a marching song sung by many NSmen, which included the lines: ‘Booking out, see my girlfriend, saw her with another man, kill the man, rape my girlfriend with my rifle and my buddy and me.’

“We were troubled that NSmen were bonding over misogynist lyrics about committing sexual violence against women. So we raised our concerns with Mindef and SAF.

“And now we have excellent news: Mindef and SAF have confirmed that they took steps to investigate. They will ‘immediately halt’ the singing of these lyrics, which they describe as ‘contrary to the values of (their) organisation’.

“It’s really encouraging that Mindef and SAF are prepared to listen to feedback, recognise this as an issue and take action on it. Thumbs up!”
So Mindef and SAF gave in to Aware and now Aware is hitting us with this “military service should not be held up as the single gold standard of citizen belonging” thing?

Give ’em an inch...

Can you blame the nation’s defenders for feeling that Aware is treating them like the enemy?

And now someone online just threatened Filipinos that if they celebrate their national day at Orchard Road, “we will take this as an act of war and will defend ourselves with our lives”.

Uh... what do you mean “we”, kemo sabe?

The soldiers are too busy not singing songs with misogynistic lyrics and luxuriating in our single gold standard of citizen belonging.

But you know what really sickens me as a former NSman?

I actually kind of agree with Aware.

The horror. The horror.

I feel like I’m betraying my bros.

But singing about raping anyone in any situation is wrong. (Killing, on the other hand, is okay unless you’re Chris Ho.)

And I get Aware’s point that you shouldn’t be entitled to more stuff just because you’re an NSman. You should get it because you need it more.

For example, let’s say you’re a general with a Richard Mille RM 011 Felipe Massa flyback chronograph watch – or even a fake one. I think you can do without more benefits.

But most of us aren’t generals and we own a G-Shock at best. So if the Government wants to give NSmen a “greater stake”, don’t be a cockblock.

If the Government really wants to show its appreciation for NSman, it should just stop Jack Neo from using NS as fodder for any more movies. Ah Boys To Men, Ah Boys To Frogmen, what’s next? Ah Boys to Storemen?

Never mind giving NSmen more “meaningful” benefits.

Just let uniformed servicemen have a seat in the MRT train without someone taking a picture and sending it to Stomp as if they’re doing something disgraceful.

It’s not like they’re celebrating the Philippine Independence Day at Ngee Ann City.

To quote my man-crush, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng:
“Let’s be fair. Everyone should give up his seat to someone who needs it more, not just NSmen. Nothing wrong for an NSman to take a seat too.”
Or does Aware want to disagree strongly with that too?

Let me check its Facebook page.

- Published in The New Paper, 27 April 2014