Officer cheers twin's Sword of Merit award

Second-Lieutenant Chew Chen Hao (left), who received the Sword of Merit yesterday, and his younger twin Zhi Hao. The award is given to the top 10 per cent of a graduating cohort of officer cadets.

It was "bittersweet" for SecondLieutenant Chew Zhi Hao, 19, as he watched older twin brother Chen Hao receive the Sword of Merit at their officer cadet commissioning parade yesterday.

Zhi Hao told The Sunday Times he had "come very close" to clinching the award given to the top 10 per cent of a graduating cohort.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim reviewed the parade of 300 graduands and gave out awards at the Safti Military Institute.

"But I'm happy for my brother. He deserves this award very much and he has done our family proud," said Zhi Hao.

His brother, in turn, credited him as a source of support and motivation during their days in the same company.

"Zhi Hao is my best friend and personal consultant. When he does better at fitness tests, I tell myself, 'We have the same body type, so I can get the same results too'."

Also receiving his epaulette as second-lieutenant was New Zealand soldier Lyle Patterson, 19, who went through the nine-month officer cadet course thousands of miles from home.

A career soldier, 2nd Lt Patterson had volunteered to do training here as he wanted a chance to "practise navigation in close country terrain".

New Zealand Chief of Army, Major-General Arthur David Gawn, was also at the parade yesterday.

This article was published on April 20 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.