Not knowing the beautiful sense of duty and honour a soldier can have towards his country, my younger self would have politely declined.
And if I could go back in time to 2017, knowing what I know now, I would vehemently be opposed to serve NS.
I know some part of my service is important for the country’s defence. I only resent the fact that I didn’t have a choice in it – I wasn’t there of my own free will. When the barrel of the gun that is conscription law is leveled at your head, no man serves freely. The contract is unequal, because only the state can walk away from it freely. Only the state holds the keys, and so the love we have for our country is forever tainted by fear, resentment, unhappiness.
I do have fond memories of those 2 years. But the spectre of your master looms over your waking moments. And no one forgets enlistment day: the day when you lose your rights as a citizen to go where you please, dress as you like and eat whatever your heart desires. Because from that day on, you cease to exist as an individual, but become a unit of manpower, a pair of boots, and from that day on you long to be free again. When you walk through the gates one last time and become a citizen once a more, reunited with your dearest pink IC, it is relief unspeakable. “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
I love my country. I wish to see it prosper, to see the sun shine on our multiracial smiles. I cherish our food, our culture and I wish it will never die. Singapore, a hundred years and more!
But never again, indentured servitude. My people, let me show my love any other way, by bringing you wealth, building your towns, teaching your children. Let me pick up my rifle and defend you, in sickness and in health, not because of my chains but my love for you.