For anyone who has served in Pulau Tekong, or picked up someone from Tekong, or even just been in the general vicinity of Pasir Ris MRT on book out day, will understand full well just how packed, both in human and vehicular traffic, the place can be.
Most of us take it as an inevitable result of sending a boatload of 18-year-olds to an offshore island to serve the army.
A few however, don't.
As a letter sent to All Singapore Stuff from one Elaine showed.
The letter basically called out parents of those who are serving NS who pick up their children from White Sands after they book out:
"Why must parents every Friday night go drive and park around White Sands area causing massive jams there just to pick their own son? Are these boys paralysed? Or need to be spoon fed?"
Elaine then advised MINDEF to take action against these egregious parents by calling in "enforcement wardens".
And then rattling off a list of alternative transport options:
"There got no MRT and bus for them to take is it? No taxi or uber and grab for them is it?"
She rounded off her diatribe by sharing how even though she had a car, she never picked her sons up from White Sands. And that these spoiled NSFs were "enjoying their conveniences at the expense of innocent motorists".
Before ending with this:
"So these army boys are what? VIPs?"
The letter understandably angered a lot of people online, but perhaps the best, and most rational, response came from Facebook user Tavis Tan:
Which perfectly captures the hypocrisy of the importance Singaporeans place on National Service as opposed to how we treat NSFs and NSmen in everyday life.
Here is his response, if you can't view the above:
"'I want these parents and army boys to know what kind of confusion and delays they have caused, there are enjoying their conveniences at the expense of other innocent motorists!'
Sorry for being an inconvenience. Sorry for serving. Sorry for only being able to book out on Friday evenings. Sorry my parents care for me and yearn to see me and want to pick me up so I can get home as soon as possible after having already spent the entire week in camp. Lastly, I'm sorry my entire week in camp doesn't match up to the 15 mins you take to get out of traffic. Because your time is more important than all of the NSFs'.
We're privileged to live in a country that's safe and assuring. We're privileged to live in a country where education is advocated and ensured. We're privileged to live in a country where progress couldn't have been more rapid than ever.
Yet at times, this privilege blinds (us). This privilege isn't entitled. This freedom didn't come by chance - as we're so often told. The very nation that prides itself on growth and unity; this very nation that builds its democracy on justice and equality.
This society is the only society I know that picks at every possible moment to spite our boys [men] in uniform.
Our economy thrives knowing our interests are protected; our sovereignty is protected. Yet the very people who protects those things we enjoy are constantly in the fire.
Now, who's going to protect them when they're taking fire from the very people they're protecting it for?
'We sacrifice what we can sacrifice today so that we won't have to sacrifice what we cannot sacrifice tomorrow.'
Now, if you can't seem to let go of that 15 mins it takes for you to get out of traffic, what say the hour or two it'll take for those boys to get home if they all take the bus or train?
And before we know it, we'll be seeing another article about how our NSFs are taking up seats and space on public transportation, depriving the public of such said amenities.
What? Are they paralysed? They no legs ah? Cannot walk home ah?"
Here's an article you should check out:
Top photo from BMTC Facebook page