Singapore – The Necessary Costly Privilege of Freedom


National Service is Necessary because Freedom is Not Free.


The death of any soldier on active service in the defense of Singapore is always a sad and sorrowful affair.  The untimely and premature death of the late Private Dominique Sarron Lee during an important training session is regrettable. 


Fatal training accidents inject a sobering experience to the call of national service duty, where all physically fit and eligible male Singapore citizens and permanent citizens are privileged to serve for up to 2 years upon reaching 18 years old. 


The call for more transparency in letters to the newspapers and in social media in this case of Pte Dominique’s death after the smoke-grenade training is understandable but, in my view, unnecessary and would even pose dangers to our soldiers and the rest of us NSmen.  The last thing we want is to let our prospective enemies know how realistic and comprehensive we have prepared our armed forces to protect Singapore and our way of life.  It should however lead Singaporeans to appreciate even more the ultimate sacrifice (to be) paid by many NSmen to keep our freedom and nation intact, and our loved ones safe. 


For NSmen like myself, it is yet another reminder worth repeating of the fragile geopolitical surrounding Singapore for a better understanding of the perils and risks of war that may one day breach our shores and skies, and be grateful that the constant vigilance and readiness of the Singapre Armed Forces (SAF) has kept Singapore free and safe for our growing prosperity over the past 50 years.


Today, Pte Dominique’s death forces me to ponder, again, the meaning of sacrifice for my country. As a natural-born Singapore citizen, I have always regarded national service as the singular privilege and honour of citizenship. My son grows up holding his head high and proud as a citizen of a sovereign nation, as he looks ahead expectantly for his turn on Singapore’s watch towers.  He knows and understands, as do most young Singaoreans in his cohort, that “some must fight, so that all can be free!”.   


Many young male Singaporeans today see national service as a mere rite of passage.  Some consider it a necessary evil that interrupts their further higher education or joining the marketplace. A few Singapore Permanent Residents prefer to leave the choice of national service to their sons later, forgetting the benefits of safety and security provided by thousands of NSmen enjoyed by their sons during their 18 formative years.    


I remember that it was 5 years after completing my national service that the full meaning of sacrifice hit me in a most unmistakably crystal manner.  I travelled to Normandy, France, to gain an appreciation of D-Day in June 1944 when the Allied Forces invaded Europe to begin the end of the 2nd World War.  When I turned towards the cliffs high above Omaha Beach, I was suddenly confronted by huge sprawling fields of cemeteries strewn with thousands of white crosses for as far as my eyes could see.  They extended for many, many kilometers.


The guide book stated that more than 9,000 Americans were buried there, with another 5,000 from Britain together with a few hundred from other Allied countries, Germany and Russia, among them. 


For the Americans, they had travelled nearly 6,000km to fight the enemy; and many had perished on the beaches even just as the battles had barely begun. Comparatively, my modest NSmen reservist combat role, at that time, was to defend a stretch of Sembawang beach in North Singapore!  Nonetheless, the goal was equally noble: to defend Singapore’s sovereignty at all cost, including my life.


Today, as Singapore joined Pte Dominique’s family in remembering their loss and celebrate his life, we must not diminish his sacrifice as he answered the privileged call to national service.  I have no doubt that Dominique Sarron Lee, my fellow NSman, wanted to protect this country and our way of life so often taken for granted.  He is a hero, our NSman hero.


Training accidents are not new.  Realistic training designs are developed to empower the soldiers and save their lives during actual battle conditions.  Accidents do happen in spite of abundant safety regulations and measures. The SAF has so many safety regulations and measures today that range from being hydrated before and during running, warming-up before exercises, adequate sleep, buddy system, competent instructors, proper weapon handling; training exercise operating procedures … etc.


I also remember a few tragic fatal incidents: trained instructors died throwing themselves onto live grenades when their recruits froze after throwing them; soldiers died when vehicles they were driving overturned on unfamiliar mountains outside Singapore; a soldier pointed a machine gun at his buddy in jest with safety off and pulled the trigger accidentally; soldiers committing suicides for various reasons; death of a water-boarding trainee … etc.  


Where the SAF is concerned, every incident and accident is investigated without fear or favour. NSmen who have ever been involved in such investigations will attest to this.  The main objectives have always been to uncover recklessness and negligence if any, and to assure that the incidents would not repeat.  Hence, SAF training safety and measures are often reviewed and improved upon after every incident whenever necessary.


Blaming and demeaning the SAF, calling the SAF insulting names and accusing the SAF of cover-up do not honour the memory of Pte Dominique Sarron Lee.  It also denigrates and disrespects the SAF in preserving and maintaining the security and safety of Singapore. Worse, it also dishonours all of us NSmen who wear the SAF uniform. 


Truth is, some of us will die during training accidents and even during peace time as we strive beyond pain and sweats to protect our precious freedom of a sovereign nation, and our way of life as a multi-cultural, multiracial nation regardless of race language and religion.  


Let the perils and risks of our treasured freedom unite us as we remember those like Pte Dominique Sarron Lee who perished as they sought to protect it through national service.


Anonymous said...

Sad! Very Sad! Very Very Sad!

Anonymous said...

What is the author's takeaway? That as Singaporean we must respect the SAF at all costs so that the "prospective enemy" will not come and harm us still living? I find that utterly selfish.
Respect comes about when just action is taken in a swift manner. How the SAF handled death due to negligence in Dominique case is in my opinion unpardonable. It took 3 years to find out that the SAF trainers were negligent. No Saf person found negligent was seriously disciplined, one was even promoted to Major about 1.5 years after the incident. The affected family was further asked to pay $20000 and if not for social media, the Defence Minister would not even have poked his head into this. The PM? MIA.
People may not protest in the streets in singapore, but this incident has left a deep indelible imprint in our hearts, for justice was not done. How difficult is an ExGratia payment of reasonable amount be made, say 8 months after the incident? How difficult is it for Saf to apologise? Or the Minister to resign (it happened inTaiwan over some cases)? Instead, Sg govt chose to to throw the legal jargon around, claim immunity and asked the bereaved family to pay further costs 20000.
The real takeaway is this. Dont get married, if you do, try not to have sons. It is too painful to be treated unfairly. Death must have some meaning. Dominique died in vain. Just read the mother's letters it make you cry and wonder what kind of people rule singapore, including the opposition party who breathed not a word on this in parliament...

Anonymous said...

If Yew don't protect Singaporeans from Aliens taking over our jobs in peacetime;
Why should Yew expect Singaporeans to defend Singapore when Aliens invade during wartime?

Why don't Yew ask the Aliens working in Singapore to defend Singapore against the invading Alien army?

Anonymous said...

Which is more true?
Singapore – The Necessary Costly Privilege of Freedom
Voting Opposition - The Necessary Costly Privilege of Freedom

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

@ MikoSpace:

>> Blaming and demeaning the SAF, calling the SAF insulting names and accusing the SAF of cover-up do not honour the memory of Pte Dominique Sarron Lee. It also denigrates and disrespects the SAF in preserving and maintaining the security and safety of Singapore. Worse, it also dishonours all of us NSmen who wear the SAF uniform. <<

I wouldn't worry so much about that. The cock-talking, do-nothing chattering classes cannot think beyond the next free gift they're queue to get at McDonalds, and they reckon they have the "smarts" to comment on a training accident by ripping the shit out of the SAF. ๐Ÿ˜‚

They FAIL to make the distinction between the SAF and NS. One can be "pro SAF" and "anti NS". The institution of NS exists in LAW, because Singaporeans still haven't got it in their minds that a VOLUNTEER force made up of people with WARRIOR HEARTS is far superior to a bunch of teenagers FORCIBLY CONSCRIPTED into defending the mother cuntry.

In fact, NS has sort of become a "bargaining chip" for the increasingly ENTITLEMENT MINDED male Singaporean---who DEMANDS a cheap home, a job, a future, free healthcare, free education...just because they SERVED NS (which is a LAW). Fuck these entitle minded cunts! Military training has obviously FAILED to turn you into REAL MEN. Instead you losers have turned out to be cry-baby schoolgirl PUSSIES. ๐Ÿ‘ญ

Worse still, our gallant and valiant REGULARS never receive one half of the praise and attention of the NS men. What the fuck? This is just downright disgusting, and plain WRONG. For e.g. there's nary a mention of regulars who are killed in training or deployment overseas...for e.g. how many RSAF pilots/ aircrew/ parachutists already?

C'mon people, military training is dangerous business. It is ludicrous to malign the SAF as if they don't take measures to mitigate the risks, but the next accident which you cannot prevent is just around the corner...yeah, "uncertainty" sucks. But as human nature would have it, when "uncertainty" strikes, the entitled chatterboxes immediately blame the SAF, the whole entire SAF...which is just downright insulting to those who are still serving or have served.

SAF ===> a good thing

NS ====> it's a matter of law. dun like it, change it. It's about time that the idea of COMPULSORY military service is reviewed. IMO, it is time to rid Singapore of forced conscription and ALLOW the young males to show their patriotism and love for their cuntry and its citizens by MAKING THEIR OWN CHOICE to serve.

Freedom can never be free (as in "free beer"), but the defence of freedom should be chosen FREELY (as in "free will").

Anonymous said...

When a soldier dies in Taiwan, this is what happens.
- Taiwan Defence Minister resigns

When a soldier dies in South Korea, this is what happens.
- Soldiers jailed over South Korea bullying death

When a soldier dies in Singapore, such as the case with private Dominique, the government gives itself immunity and nobody apologises and takes responsibility for the death.
The deaths of some other NS men are also not given their due attention.


Anonymous said...

Ref. March, 2016. 9:08

Did some upstart politicians claim to be natural ' Aristocrats '. Why should our worthy young boys sacrifice themselves to protect the most uncouth unnatural - 'natural aristocrats. The most unthinking moronic unnatural - 'natural aristocrat ' - even sells out Singapore and endangers the lives of Singaporeans by letting the Evil Empire make use of Singapore as a military base to stir up trouble, choas, destability and even wars in Asia especially in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Hi! Is there such thing as a 'natural aristocrat' Or do victors call themselves heroes and label the loosers as villains? This claim of 'Natural Aristocrat ' is most shameless and disgusting and a slap on the people and democracy. Natural aristocrats are the kings and queens, the prince and princess and the nobilities and they don't even have to stand for election.

Anti-stupid people, stupic unnatural aristocrats.

independent individual said...

The individual has rights.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

@ "libertarian" 1105:

I too grew up on Ayn Rand, and later was enamored with the writings of Freddy Bastiat ๐Ÿ˜‚

In Singapore, the government tells you what your individual rights are. If you don't believe me, go and try some shit, see what happens. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Anonymous said...

Leaking Beachfront Nuclear Reactor Near Miami Threatening Florida Everglades
According to a study released by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Monday, the waters of Biscayne Bay measured 215 times the level of radioactive tritium as is found in normal ocean water.


Can our National Service boys (or even the SAF regulars) defend Singapore against a leaking nuclear power plant?

virgo49 said...

Good quote ; Some must fight so Others can have freedom"

So many Opp candiates put their lives on the line ans yet 70% dafts still want to be slaves.

Fight for those who exploited you so that they can have their good lives and still exploited you??


Anonymous said...

@ March 11, 2016 12:09 pm

this is called Singaporeans ownself FUCK ownself.
I've seen this many time when I travel and stay overseas.
Hongkies will look after each other.
Malaysians will look after each other.

Singaporeans will never look after each other ... unless there is a PAPig mole to unite us.

Anonymous said...

Expat escaped jail sentence with only S$2,500 fine for assault

National Service to defend what?
When Singaporeans get beaten up by Aliens, what can our Millionaire Generals do?

Do you think we should abolish National Service because it is not able to defend Singaporeans from physical assaults by Aliens?

Anonymous said...


What is war meant to those who are STILL LIVING? U were shocked by 9000 US soldiers died in Europe. In real sense u were shock by the huge cemetery. Not "freedom". They didnt died for that. They died for missions. Missions might not end in freedom.

EU and US freedom are the creation of wise politicians AFTER the war, in many generations. Get this history right please.

US soldiers in Europe and Au UK soldiers in Kranji, they all died for the missions assigned to them. To work for Mission means assigned tasks cannot be refused. So they died.

Why during training, soldier must not die? Its b cos soldiers must die only for missions. Training is for mission success. Obviously Safety regulations come in for training .

Regulations are NOT words to impress people like u. U said lots of regulations are catered for safety. In reality, are regulations meant for actions in the field?

That soldier Dom S Lee died b cos there was NO safety regulations? Or the many regulations did not cover his specific "accident"?

Put this to u to empathize my questions:
if u are asked to go into a room in a three room flat, the regulations say only 2 smoke grenades can be exploded inside the room. Will u agree to go in? NS men will comply as the regulation is an assurance. A guarantee.
If the regulation says 2, but u know the commander can put 6 smoke grenade inside the room of the 3 room flat, WILL u go into it?

U are not asthmatic. Go? U may want to go into it and try out.
As old cork soldier, i will not recommend u to try out, e-si bair? Beysi lah. This is stupid solider's mentality.
Look, u may die of asthmatic complications or allergy even tho u have no history of asthma.

Why i dont recommend u to try the excessive smoke? Its b cos your body s weaknesses can be triggered under extreme conditions, tho u have no medical history.
SAF regulations are not written from laymen s hands, i presumed. There are US army doctrines to copy from. They have researched.

Miko: Commander who dont follow regulations, and safety officers who dont control in the field, are as bad as no regulation. The story of Dom S Lee, did provide parents an alarming live lesson.
Dont normalize death in NS training.

Miko: armed forces may not be for freedom protection: may NOT. Forces are tools for the authority to order to fit certain purpose.

Armed forces provide defense for the boundary generally. Those wanting to come over to Singapore to stay illegally will be repelled.
Armed forces dont repel foreigners from coming in from airport or causeway. Those who want jobs, they can come in FREELY to take almost any jobs from citizens. Citizens cannot object. If citizens object in groups, armed forces may use against the citizens.
U value freedom of what? To roam the streets freely? Many comments here identified NS men want more freedom to get into jobs and to choose jobs.

They want to gain economic benefits in offices of banks, companies, ie freedom from getting jobs here. The freedom is not fairly available in these areas. They are controlled by many foreigners, according to reports. If this is the freedom people asking for, NS is NOT protecting it. Contrary to your view, NS is a burden to find jobs here.

Employers, dont welcome NS incamp or ippt b cos, employers want NS men to work in workplace. So they hire foreigners to save the troubles to hire temp to replace NS during incamp. Of course, CPF is what employers dislike too. Foreigners dont need it. So the freedom for citizen in job market is restricted comparing to foreigners who have absolute freedom, protected by NS men. What freedom protection do u mean? To walk in streets when Nsmen s kida are hungry?

Anonymous said...

To those thick skull cunts like Matilah, there is a big difference between dying fighting a war and dying in training because a fucker was negligent or committed a rash act.

Crack your thick skull a bit to let some light into it.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

@ cunt-face fantasy-dweller 155:

>> there is a big difference between dying fighting a war and dying in training because a fucker was negligent or committed a rash act. <<

A military which isn't hardened by the reality of instant death is a weak military.

"The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war"....sometimes people die in training.

I can guarantee you that more personnel will be killed during military training, in every cuntry, in every military, not only the SAF.

Anyone up for a bet? ๐Ÿ˜‚

Anonymous said...

It is always much much easier to give "textbook" comments,
as Private Dominique Sarron Lee is other people child!

Only when such tragedy strike YOU, then you WILL sing a different tune.


This is indeed a very very sad case!

b said...

“Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”
― Henry Kissinger.

Anonymous said...

This article by a so called journalist is as misleading and as misdirecting as it aims to be. The whole point is that our army, served by drafted civilians have never been treated with the respect and consideration of a civilian army starting from the low pay, lack of civilian oversight, and lack of safety. Remember this: Our national servicemen are conscripted by law, the soldiers did not volunteer. If like Miko said, they are making a sacrifice, why are they not conferred with the right to legal recourse, when there is a crime or negligence has occurred? Why must the professional soldier be protected by the weight of the law while a conscript, who is like Miko said, making a sacrifice for freedom is not? What freedom are we fighting for when we cannot seek redress in court when there is an obvious injustice done?

independent individual said...

The individual has rights.