Father pens letter to son before he enlists in NS

The developments in the court case of Private Dominique Sarron Lee who died in 2012 while he was serving National Service (NS) troubled one Singaporean parent enough for him to pen his thoughts in a letter to his son who is due to enlist in National Service (NS) soon.

Mr Philip Wu, who wrote the online letter on Monday (March 7) to his son, Jonathan, on Medium.com said he was "pretty troubled" by the case and described his own in NS experience when he enlisted in 1987.

Recalling his two-and-a-half years as an "enthusiastic" recruit on Pulau Tekong at Kilo company, he said he fought hard to get into the Officer Cadet School and was eventually selected for conversion to become a Guardsman and ended up a platoon commander. 

Mr Wu talked about the risks of his training and cited the death of a fellow officer cadet trainee during a night-time live firing exercise.

He wrote: "I was barely 200m away and heard him shout 'I'm shot'. I was selected to be part of his honour guard at the funeral, and tears streamed freely as we sent off an excellent friend and soldier."

In the letter, he also posed a few questions to Jon like whether he has been doing the "right thing" and whether he has been "teaching him wrong".

Despite the "Singapore system" not being "entirely good to his son", Mr Wu said he still wants him to serve NS with a positive attitude.

He wrote: "Because only then will you be able to make the most of these 2 years. I also want you to learn to look after yourself, and not just depend on the system to protect you.

"And if you ever get into a position of authority, contribute to the system to continue to protect and love the soldiers who are training to defend our country."

While Mr Wu did say that the Singapore Armed Forces seems "impersonal, cold and uncaring", he also made it a point to tell him that this does not reflect reality.

He went on to explain that his peers who trained along with him are "people of integrity and character".

On the need to defend Singapore, Mr Wu briefly spoke about MacDonald House bombing in 1965, World War II and the future threats posed by the Islamic State.

"It is our duty, Jon, as Singaporeans to know the threats facing our country and it is actually quite meaningful to be part of a force of arms equipped and disciplined to defend a country," he wrote.

Despite the difficulties he forsees his son facing, Mr Wu hoped that he will teach Jon right in learning from the past and applying it to the future.

He added: "Train Hard, Be Strong, Be Safe."

stephluo@sph.com.sg

Read the full letter here.