Butt Party* Fall In: 50 Years of SAF

Even if the last time any of our military units saw battle was before 1965 (Konfrontasi – 1SIR), I now realise been wrongly telling people that we don’t have a martial tradition.

I think half a century of SAF makes it a tradition. Some of the operations the SAF have undertaken may not necessarily have been military in purpose, but I’m proud to remember my unit, the 46th Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment, receiving its regimental colours in 1990 as recognition for its role, in 1986, in search and rescue operations during the Hotel New World disaster.

There’ve been missions since, like Ops Flying Eagle, that demonstrate the great capability of our Armed Forces.

It’s been seven years since I attended my last ICT, and twenty six since I first enlisted, and I think my Army mates through the years at 46SAR and 433SAR would agree that the memories we’ve amassed will remain as fresh as ever.

I’m proud to have served in the most formidable Armed Forces in the region – and salute our service personnel past and present on this special SAF Day.

Sungei Gedong Camp, 1990: 297 Days to ROD, as it was known then. We spent so much time in camp, and we were asked to 'decorate' our bunks - We, HQ platoon, Attila Combat Team, decided to name ours "The Coconut Grove".
Sungei Gedong Camp, 1990: 297 Days to ROD, as it was known then. We spent so much time in camp, so we were asked to ‘decorate’ our bunks – We, HQ platoon, Attila Combat Team, decided to name ours “The Coconut Grove”.
This was our accommodation at Khao Meng Camp in Kanchanaburi Thailand, October 1989. We had several mishaps, including one fatality, during this our first overseas training exercise. I remember it like it was yesterday.
This was our accommodation at Khao Meng Camp in Kanchanaburi Thailand, October 1989. We had several mishaps, including one fatality, during this our first overseas training exercise. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Near the end of our NSF stint, we were 'rewarded' with Exercise Starlight, and had a lot more fun in Taiwan.
Near the end of our NSF stint, we were ‘rewarded’ with Exercise Starlight, and had a lot more fun in Taiwan.
August 1990 - local training was still challenging even if we knew Area D inside out. Training grounds were always so crowded with different Army units crisscrossing each other. In Area D alone, I bumped into my brother, serving in 35SCE and a year my junior, at least three times during our NSF days.
August 1990 – local training was still challenging even if we knew Area D inside out. Training grounds were always so crowded with different Army units crisscrossing each other. In Area D alone, I bumped into my brother, serving in 35SCE and a year my junior, at least three times during our NSF days.
As the company's bikey, I  was also the OC's MG Gunner. The CVC helmet is a communications device - there's a toggle that switches between intercom (within the combat vehicle's crew) and company/battalion radio frequency network. We sometimes accidentally jammed the network by leaving the transmit toggle on. The other ingenious thing we did was to black tape our Walkmen earphones to the microphones - and piped in music through our fighting vehicles!
August 1990: As the company’s bikey, I was also the OC’s MG Gunner. The CVC helmet is a communications device – there’s a toggle that switches between intercom (within the combat vehicle’s crew) and company/battalion radio frequency network. We sometimes accidentally jammed the network by leaving the transmit toggle on. The other ingenious thing we did was to black tape our Walkmen earphones to the microphones – and piped in music through our fighting vehicles!
August 1990: Our driver, among what must now look like antiquated equipment, including a GPS that was the size of a field pack, and which returned a set of numbers which still had to be tallied against  Map Grid References.
1990: Our driver, among what must now look like antiquated equipment, including a GPS that was the size of a field pack, and which returned a set of numbers which still had to be tallied against Map Grid References.
Rockhampton Airport, October 2005: Griping about budget airlines? Beat this: We got off the plane, waited for them to open the cargo door, and then picked up our bags directly from the aircraft.
Rockhampton Airport, October 2005: Griping about budget airlines? Beat this: We got off the plane, waited for them to open the cargo door, and then picked up our bags directly from the aircraft.
Shoal water Bay, Queensland, 2005: Happy NSMan - all smiles before the long haul of a week-long exercise. I deferred from reservist/NS for 8 years, and when I returned, I got posted to 433SAR, a batch of soldiers six years younger than me. Made fast friends nonetheless.
Shoal water Bay, Queensland, 2005: Happy NSMan – all smiles before the long haul of a week-long exercise. I deferred from reservist/NS for 8 years, and when I returned, I got posted to 433SAR, a batch of soldiers six years younger than me. Made fast friends nonetheless.
2008: The last In-Camp before being mothballed into Mindef Reserve.
2008: The last In-Camp before being mothballed into Mindef Reserve.

*A ‘butt’ is the end of a firing range, usually made from mounds of earth, to stop the flight of bullets from going beyond the range. When I was in NS, some ranges did not have automated targets, and soldiers took turns holding up wooden targets at the butt. Each group was called a ‘butt party’, and the ‘butt party IC’ would yell ‘butt party fall in!’, when it was his group’s turn to walk to the butt to hold up targets.

Talking Point About Parenting

Kai and I pretending to have a boys' day out at a cafe, which is actually an event space on the 2nd floor of the Grand Hyatt.
Kai and I pretending to have a boys’ day out at a cafe, which is actually an event space on the 2nd floor of the Grand Hyatt.

Tonight, Kai and I appear on Talking Point with four other fathers and their children. The topic is fatherhood, the role of fathers in the family. It was meant to be a relaxed, shoot the breeze shoot, together with some attempt at cooking.

Naomi and I are very fortunate to have a wonderful boy who is a joy every waking hour of the day. We are hardly experts in parenting, and as I said to Steven Chia, the host of Talking Point, I’m just having the most fun being a Dad, and what Naomi does with Kai and I makes it all possible.

There’s a lot of time involved, but there’s no magic formula other than wanting Kai to be healthy, informed, compassionate and conscientious.

I have spoken with other parents about how we go about parenting, but this was the first time I’ve been presented with the question, specifically, of how fathers go about doing things. For us, gender has never been a factor in what roles are supposed to be played by whom – excepting of course the obviously biological – and I was slightly taken aback by the questions posed, and some of the answers given.

I would’ve enjoyed a longer chat on how my family feels about families, but watch if you can tonight, and leave your comments here.

TALKING POINT9.30PM Channel 5.

Watch a teaser here.

Local Mosquitoes To Be Made Infertile

Dengue fighter gets up to speed. #mozziewipeout

A photo posted by Benjamin "Mr Miyagi" Lee (@miyagisan) on

Since May 2014, the NEA has been studying the feasibility of introducing Wolbachia-carrying male Aedes mosquitoes to help suppress the Aedes mosquito population in Singapore. Apparently, when these males mate with the female Aedes mosquitoes, their eggs do not hatch.

Here’s hoping that it all works, and we’re able to make these mozzies lose their mojo. In the meantime, community efforts in eradicating mosquito breeding habitats remain key to preventing dengue.

At the launch of this year’s “Do The Mozzie Wipeout Campaign”, I learnt of the outreach programme targeted at secondary school students in the South West district. Through the initiative, students are equipped with essential information on preventing the vector borne illness at home and at school, They are also tasked to spread the word about dengue prevention to residents living around their schools.

These roving ambassadors are called “Dengue Mobsters”, but don’t be afraid of them when they come knocking on your doors, because they’re not there to mob you – they’re just there to let you know how to prevent the spread of dengue, and give you a to-do list so you can also be a dengue fighter.

School Operations Managers will also have to attend forums to get them up to speed on procedures in the event of dengue outbreaks, as well as preventive measures for school premises.

At the South West of the country, workshops that began in 2013 will also continue to educate residents on maintaining mosquito-free gardens. By the end of May this year, “Garden Sheriffs” will also be trained, appointed, and armed with as much information as possible to stop the breeding of the dreaded Aedes mosquito.

I appreciate how difficult it is to maintain awareness of how dangerous dengue is, especially when the number of reported infections has fallen by 39% since last year. You can have dengue fighter kits packed with things like caps (2014), neck pillows (2015) and other paraphernalia – but it is difficult when people hear the same thing over and over again.

At last week’s launch, Minister Grace Fu and the Mayor of South West CDC were tirelessly going around Bukit Gombak Neighbourhood Centre, meeting people, and handing out these bags and explaining what was in them, including “Aunty, this one cannot eat one ok? It is granular insecticide”.

But please spare a moment to listen or read about preventive measures because there may be something you’ve missed out the last time. Or at least, think about how you can help with the outreach programme. For me, I think we should have forums for domestic helpers at these launches, seeing as how many of us delegate our housekeeping to this essential group of people.

It is also important to know that by far, most of the reported dengue breeding grounds have been in residences, and not construction sites and dormitories, and between February and March of this year alone, breeding habitats found in homes increased by 80%.

So please, for the sake of your families, do the mozzie wipeout, and stay vigilant.

Goodie Bags For To Fight Dengue With!
Goodie Bags For To Fight Dengue With!

Uncle gives up and takes a picture of a picture of mosquitoes instead. #mozziewipeout

A photo posted by Benjamin "Mr Miyagi" Lee (@miyagisan) on

Something Is Seriously Wrong With SingPost/SpeedPost

For a few years now, we’ve experienced phantom attempted deliveries from SingPost/Speedpost – where we get a slip either under the door or in our mailbox saying that delivery of a package was attempted but unsuccessful because ‘no one was in the premises’.

Sound familiar? Been home all day and not a peep outside the door, and doorbell’s completely fine? It seems that the modus operandi of the SpeedPost/SingPost delivery person is to just leave the packages in their office/base and carry a stack of ‘attempted delivery’ slips to deliver to recipients, who have no choice but to make a trek down to the nearest StinkPost office to pick up their item.

Customers who complain are simply asked to write a formal complaint, and the ‘matter would be looked into’. It never is, and after so many years, THIS IS STILL HAPPENING!

Check out this thread on FB:

And here’s a little exchange on Twitter I had today with @SingPost:

So if you’ve any similar stories about SingPost’s phantom attempted deliveries, leave a comment here – surely strength in numbers can fix their damned service.

I Have Old Stuff From My Dad’s Office Too: Part 1

The picture above is of former Minister of Culture Mr Jek Yuen Thong giving a speech at the opening of the Oriental Development Corporation Limited (Marble And Plastic Factories) in 1972. My father is seated at the extreme left in the photo.

28 October 1972: Check out the hand-painted banner

Since PM Lee Hsien Loong is slowly going through his family’s treasure trove of historical artefacts, I thought I might join in with mine.

The picture above is of former Minister of Culture Mr Jek Yeun Thong giving a speech at the opening of the Oriental Development Corporation Limited (Marble And Plastic Factories) in 1972. My father is seated at the extreme left in the photo.

I was really excited as a three year old when my father told me he was helping to set up a marble factory, and was very, very disappointed to learn that it actually made ornamental marble slabs and vases and not the kind of marbles one could bring to marble battles with the other kids in the neighbourhood, with the other kids protesting, “Wah lao, liddat he sure win one lah, his father open marble factory one leh!”