Serving National Service (NS) is the responsibility of each and every Singaporean man. It might be the toughest and most challenging time for these men, but with it also comes the experience of building up mental and physical discipline, military aptitude and fortitude, and also the forging of bittersweet memories of the camaraderie built within the SAF during these times.
In celebration of our nation’s SAF Day (which falls on 1 July every year), we asked Mike Tan of Power 98 Love Songs on his past experiences during his NS time, the most memorable moments for him and also what the SAF Day means to him. Mike Tan is the DJ for Power Steering where he co-hosts with Jerald Justin Ko (JK) and Own Time Own Target on Power 98 Love Songs. An ex-flight steward with the Singapore Airlines who has gone on to work in the one true love of his life, the radio, he enjoys shooting the breeze with his best friends, racking up honour kills in World of Warcraft and playing in his little corner of the sandbox during his free time.
You can catch Mike Tan on Power Steering on weekdays, 5 – 8 pm and Own Time Own Target from 8 – 9 pm on Power 98 Love Songs
1. Tell us about your NS life – when did you enlist and which unit were you assigned to?
I enlisted about a hundred years ago, back in 2002 (laughs). I was in BMT, Specialist Cadet School, then Signals!
2. Do you have any special memories of your enlistment day?
Enlistment day is definitely a core memory for every Singaporean son – I remember going to Pulau Tekong with my incredibly supportive parents and sharing a really good cookhouse lunch with them before starting the mandatory 2-week stay for all recruits. I will always remember the mixed emotions of starting BMT while also waving goodbye to them at the ferry terminal!
3. What is your fondest memory of your NS life? Any interesting stories to share?
I’d say that BMT was the highlight of my NS journey because all of us were new, inexperienced and had no idea what was going on! Even though BMT was incredibly challenging – as it should be – I also found solace, support and camaraderie among my fellow section and platoon mates, and understood that we were all in this defining experience together.
4. Did you find the training in NS tough? How did you manage to get through it?
NS training was hands-down one of the toughest experiences of my life, but that’s also how we develop our minds, bodies and maturity. Each phase of training presented brand new challenges but the one thing I always held close to my heart was the fact that I wasn’t going through it on my own – there were always friends, buddies and fellow soldiers I was training with and that made all the difference.
5. What do you think is the significance of the SAF Day. Do you think it’s important that Singapore honours all NS men on this special day?
SAF Day calls to mind the incredible sacrifices that all soldiers, past and present, have made for our beloved country and it’s a grand symbol of gratitude and appreciation for every soldier who has answered the call of duty and has served, and continues to serve, our nation and fellow Singaporeans. Thank you for your service!
6. Have you heard, that SAFRA has been offering SAF Day deals to all its members and NS men on every 1 July. This year’s deals are just as amazing, have you checked out the deals and which ones are you most excited for?
SAFRA’s constantly outdoing itself with even bigger and better deals! I love that SAFRA’s got the best lobangs out there and can’t wait to check out some of these deals, especially the 50% discount off tennis court bookings until the end of July! Love you SAFRA!
7. How has NS impacted your life overall? Did it change you or inspire you in any way?
NS taught me a whole spectrum of lessons but perhaps the most major one I’ll always remember is that we’re so much stronger than we think we are. It is only in striving that we discover our limits and that’s a wonderful thing to experience.
8. What is your hope for the future of the SAF Day and NS in Singapore?
It’s my genuine hope that all of us Singaporeans continue to grow and evolve in service of our country as well as the community around us – and to every serviceman and woman who has served, and continues to serve our nation – here’s saying a very big, heartfelt thank you.
Featured image: Mike Tan