Train old soldiers to operate new rifles

I read  with gratification and pride the letter from reader Raymond Anthony Fernando, "Help NSmen with jobs" (The New Paper, May 13).

Rewarding those who have served their time in NS is by no means a small matter. It is, I believe, the way to sow the seeds of patriotism, loyalty and a sense of national pride and unity for the defence of our nation against seen and unseen threats in these uncertain times.

I was in the first batch of national service and had many negative experiences that did not give me a sense of self-worth, appreciation and pride in what I did. That wouldn't be the outcome envisaged by our founding fathers like Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the late Dr Goh Keng Swee.

I am glad that a new approach to NS is now open for public discussion. Hurray for Minister Ng Eng Hen! We have to dig deep to understand the psyche of an NSman and his needs. And NS aftercare should be a continuous approach to enhance the national spirit.

One example from the early years of NS would be the National Day Parade in 1968 when it rained. I was standing in the Guard-Of-Honour contingent as it poured on that day.

I am still able-bodied and would like to be able to defend my country as best as I can. But I may not be able to use an SAR 21 assault rifle even if it is put in my hand.

So one suggestion I have is that old soldiers should also be upgraded and updated during peace time so that when required, Singapore can aim to have a million armed defenders.

I am now coming to 65 and would also like to go on working, but I seem to be out of the queue foremployment.

Perhaps, we should also work towards a mindset that will allow old soldiers to remain employed.

Daniel Hong