NSF in photo has been counselled: Mindef

A photo of a national serviceman making his maid carry his backpack is making the rounds online. (Photo from Facebook)A photo of a national serviceman making his maid carry his backpack is making the rounds online. (Photo from F …UPDATE

The full-time national serviceman (NSF) who was photographed with his maid carrying his backpack identified himself to his commander and has been counselled, said Singapore's Ministry of Defence on Monday.

A series of photographs of the NSF recently made its rounds on the Internet and generated much debate about whether Gen Y soldiers in Singapore were too "soft" and "spoilt".

The Straits Times' online portal Stomp said that Colonel Desmond Tan, Director of Mindef Public Affairs, said:

"The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has completed its investigation into the recent case of a serviceman who was photographed with his domestic helper carrying his field pack ("Deafening silence in army backpack saga'' by Mr Patrick Tan; Saturday).

"The serviceman concerned has identified himself to his Commander.

"He was a recruit undergoing the Physical Training Preparatory phase prior to the Basic Military Training phase.

"The recruit is remorseful for his actions and realises that it was wrong for him to have allowed this.

"He has been counselled and continues his training. The SAF has reminded all servicemen to be mindful of their conduct in public."

When news of the photograph broke on 28 March, the NSF's parents were livid, my paper reported. The NSF, who has at least one older sibling, did not know what to do and was afraid of the consequences if he was identified.

Tan said that the Singapore Armed Forces has issued a reminder to all servicemen to be mindful of their conduct in public.

The photos of the NSman, which had been taken off Facebook and posted on Stomp, featured a young man, fully decked out in army fatigues, with his maid trailing behind him carrying his large backpack.

The full pack the maid was carrying looks to be the newer type, which is bigger and has more compartments compared to older variations.

The contributor claimed that the photos had been taken in the area around Tanah Merah MRT.

Disgusted netizens began sharing the photos on social networking site Facebook and on online forums like hardwarezone.com.sg, triggering debate on whether the youth these days are too pampered.

Most were critical of the soldier, calling him "lazy" and "spoilt". Some even said he "tarnished the image of Singapore".

Others we more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, saying he could have been injured and needed help with his heavy backpack.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman earlier said, "The SAF takes a serious view of the conduct of its servicemen in public."

She added that the SAF is looking into the matter and will take appropriate action.

Ex-NS men and NSFs who spoke to Yahoo! Singapore held differing views on the matter.

25-year-old Kelvin Wong, who completed his army stint in 2006, said, "This photo is just ridiculous. It's hard to believe that a grown man who is supposed to be serving the nation is making his female domestic help carry his backpack."

"He's a disgrace to the army and makes Singaporean men look bad," he added.

23-year-old Karl Mak, who finished his stint in 2008, said, "He's probably a spoilt kid who had his bag carried by his maid since he was a child. I guess stuff like that is cultivated from a young age."

A former army officer who only wanted to be known as Jonathan, was more amused than disgusted.

The 28-year-old said, "When I first saw the photo, I thought it was  funny. I've never come across such a scenario before and I don't think it's at all representative of our generation. In the army, we trained recruits to take responsibility for themselves."

"Anyway, it's possible he had a shoulder injury and needed help with his bag. It's not a big deal and we shouldn't generalise this to the mentality of youths these days."

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