Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thinking anew

I congratulate the Singapore Government for granting our newly minted Olympian, Joseph Schooling a deferment of his National Service obligations for another 5 years, i.e. till 2020. The reason is so that he can take the time to train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Winning the first gold medal merely signals the start of more to come for this young boy. We should support him as much as we can.

This exemption, however, is nothing new, nor out of character for the government. Some, though, have been controversial, like the exemption that was granted to President Tony Tan's son, Patrick Tan, whose NS was disrupted so that he could proceed to the US to study medicine. He eventually returned with a PhD and completed his NS. Since the 1980's NS enlistees who secure a place in NUS to study medicine will have their NS deferred to train as doctors before they routinely complete their NS as Medical Offices (MO). Although the statutory age for enlistment is 18 years old, people who are students in the local Polytechnics are also granted deferment until they complete their Polytechnic studies, by which time they will be 19 or 20 years old.

Perhaps it is time to re-think NS deferments in the wider context, and not just for the sake of sporting achievements. I know of many young people who have great ideas and would have started companies to develop and eventually commercialise their products, if not for the disruptive 2 years that every Singapore male is obliged to put away soldiering in the fields. Some say they can do so once they join the universities after their NS. But for many, the spark of creativity may have been lost by then. Others will say the rewards go to the persistent and the resilient, so NS is a good "testing ground" to gauge whether the initial enthusiasm is a spark that is easily extinguished or continues to smolder. In the former case, we will never know what could have been.

It is really up to the government and its generals to rethink National Service, ironically, for the sake of our nation's economic future whether that is in sports or technological innovation..

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A page from Singapore's history

Singapore blood is coursing through this boy. Majulah Singapura!

Source: Google search

Statistics you never thought you'd ever see

It's real. The little red dot of an island is on the Rio Olympics leaderboard!

Schooling's Gold

Congratulation, Joseph Schooling, for winning Singapore's first ever Olympic Gold medal at the on-going Rio Olympic Games. Joseph Schooling won in the 100-metre butterfly swimming event today, the 13 August 2016. This is all the more noteworthy because he beat Michael Phelps, the world's best swimmer by Olympic medals, in the same event, pushing him to second place.

What a wonderful day for Singapore!!