Monday 20 August 2018

Is SAF using NDP guard-of-honour chiobu Gorgina Choo for recruitment? Yes, but...

At least it wasn’t a schoolboy giving you the finger.

That was the big controversy of last year’s National Day Parade. This year, the controversy doesn’t have to be blurred out.

It all started during President Halimah Yacob’s inspection of the guard of honour. Perhaps it was fitting that being our first woman president at her first NDP as head of state, Madam Halimah stopped for a few words with a female member of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) contingent, Military Expert 1 Gorgina Choo.

Yes, Gorgina, not Georgina. The “e” probably melted off in the heat. Warner Bros should apologise.

By the next day, links to her social media accounts were posted in the HardwareZone online forum along with selfies from her Instagram.

Comments include “She has a very nice ass”, “Heading to CMPB on Monday to sign on RSAF liao” and “Figure really quite faps”.

The next day, the Alvinology website posted an article called “Who is Gorgina Choo? The chiobu guard of honour President Halimah Yacob spoke to at NDP 2018”, which included a poll: “Who is Singapore’s top chiobu in uniform?”

Then last Wednesday, another website called Rice Media posted an article criticising the focus on the looks of ME1 Choo and other military women by Alvinology, SAF and others.

Unfortunately, the article was misleadingly headlined “Does the SAF only hire attractive women?” which was not the article’s point at all.

This apparently created enough online chatter about the “objectification of women in uniform” that The Straits Times asked the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) about it.

Mindef said it regularly features its servicemen and servicewomen across various platforms and channels. These pictorials may include glamorous shots of them in their civilian attire, taken with the approval of those featured.

“This is standard commercial practice used by many organisations to highlight individuals in their multifaceted roles and attributes and in no way dilutes their contributions in the SAF,” added Mindef.

The question is, why does Mindef seem to highlight only servicewomen who are chiobu?

The answer is – it doesn’t.

Just last week, Mindef on its social media platforms featured SAFVC Volunteer 2 Chi Meina, a mother of two who volunteers as a Command, Control, Communications and Computers expert with RSAF, and SV2 Arlene Pang, who joined the navy as a bridge watchkeeper despite her father telling her: “Sailing is not for girls.”

Why aren’t they getting more attention? Could it be because they are not chio enough?

Is it Mindef’s fault that the buayas in HardwareZone only pick on those they consider to be chiobu, ignoring the non-chiobu?

Maybe that’s how Rice Media got the impression that SAF “regularly parades these attractive young women in front of thirsty male citizens in order to get them to sign on with the army”.

If this were true, all Singaporean men should give Mindef the finger for treating us like such shallow lechers, even though we are. #MenToo

Sure, more than one buaya in HardwareZone joked about joining the air force after seeing ME1 Choo, but did any of them actually follow through?

Thanks to national service, most of us are forced to enlist anyway, whether we want to or not, unlike those women who paid to join the 2D1N “boot camp” next month to “experience the day-to-day routines of our national servicemen”.

They are likely part of the demographic that Mindef is targeting with its video about ME1 Choo where she gave advice to women thinking about joining SAF and not advice to guys on how to date her.

“If boys can do it, girls can do it too,” she said.

So you see, SAF is really parading these attractive young women to get women to sign up, not men.

Because god knows SAF already has us by the, uh... let’s say “HardwareZone”.

Whether Singaporean women should give Mindef the finger is up to them.

Just don’t do it at NDP.

- Published in The New Paper, 20 August 2018

Dear Mr Ong,

You have an interesting write up. I am disturbed by the use of “chiobu” in a national paper.

The choice of the name chiobu which has been misused in Singapore as a hot babe and buxom woman. In the older generation (I belong to now), it means more than that.

Growing up in a Hokkien speaking family with my late educated uncle (whose age could be my grandfather) and father from Xiamen, the word goes in the direction of offensive and degrading of women. It is known to be an unrefined expression and does not befit the image of The New Paper which is read by foreigners from Taiwan and Hokkien Province in Singapore. A check with one of them, she agreed me that “chiobu” is anything but flattering to woman and has been misused in Singapore.

Just a comment from an traditional Singaporean auntie.

EARLIER: NDP 2017: We have a new national bird