Do commanders know where to draw the line?

Brigadier-General Perry Lim Cheng Yeow (right) taking over the army's symbol of command from Singapore's outgoing Chief of Army Major-General Ravinder Singh, at the change of command parade held at Pasir Laba Camp.

I agree with Dr Andy Ho that people with schizophrenia require long-term powerful medication, and national service is not the ideal environment for those undergoing drug treatment ("Exempt these young men from NS"; last Sunday).

My childhood friend enlisted for NS in the 1990s. During his medical check-up, he did not display any symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Later, he had his first schizophrenic episode during his service.

He underwent medical treatment. Later, he had a relapse, and he ended his life on the day he was supposed to see his psychiatrist.

The Ministry of Defence has the responsibility to raise awareness of mental health issues among its junior commanders.

I agree with Dr Christopher Cheok, the former head of psychiatry at the Singapore Armed Forces, that these commanders should be better equipped to deal with national servicemen with mental health issues, and that more training workshops should be organised ("Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts"; April 12).

The crux of the issue lies in how junior commanders deal with national servicemen with mental health issues. Do they know where to draw the line when meting out punishments?

Letter from Ada Chan Siew Foen 

This article was published on April 20 in The Straits Times.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.