A campaign has been launched to urge Singaporeans to show their appreciation to all national servicemen for their contributions to the nation with a simple gesture national — a salute — as the Republic marks 50 years of National Service (NS50).
The public are encouraged to pay homage to the national servicemen they know or meet in their daily lives, and to post photos or videos of their salute on social media, along with their words of appreciation, with the hashtags #NS50salute and #safrasg.
Safra, which kicked off the We Salute Our NSmen campaign on Sunday (June 18) at the two-day Safra Jurong Open House, hopes to amass more than 50,000 salutes by the end of October. This is the latest in the slew of events lined up throughout the year to mark the NS jubilee.
Speaking to reporters after the campaign launch attended by more than 300 servicemen and their families on Sunday, Senior Minister of State (Defence) Mohamad Maliki Osman said the Republic can never take its peace and stability for granted.
Pointing to the present terror situation and the recent announcement of the first woman being detained under the Internal Security Act for radicalism, Dr Maliki, who is also Safra’s deputy president, said NS has played a critical role in protecting the country’s borders and keeping its streets safe.
“It’s timely for all of us to show that respect (and) recognition to all our servicemen by this very simple gesture of saluting them wherever they meet them,” he added.
To encourage participation, Safra will make available interactive digital photo kiosks at all its clubs and its key NS50 events until the end of October.
To lend their support, its partners, such as mall operators CapitaLand Malls Asia and Frasers Centrepoint Malls as well as Mediacorp, will place the photo kiosks at selected malls and bus stops islandwide, among other things.
Visuals posted to Instagram with the campaign’s hashtag and those taken at the photo kiosks will be featured on Safra’s NS50 webpage and screens across Safra clubs.
It is hoped that every Singaporean salutes “each and every” serviceman, so that “they can continue to do their part” and Singaporeans can “continue to enjoy the peace and stability… for many, many more years to come,” Dr Maliki said.
While the national servicemen interviewed by TODAY felt a salute was a good gesture to show recognition, they do not expect the movement to take off in a big way — at least not publicly.
Operationally ready national serviceman (NSman) Lance Sum, 34, said it might be “a bit awkward” to do it in public. Fellow NSman Jonathan Yap, 36, added that saluting national servicemen in public is still “not the norm” here.
Mr Yap, however, said posting videos to social media was “more workable” and would help to drum up awareness of NS’ importance. “There’s an effort being made… (but) generally, Singaporeans (prefer) more tangible benefits, say, vouchers,” added the life planner.
To engineer Tan Chee Sin, 42, salutes are not necessary. “It’s our duty, so I don’t really need a salute from the public,” he said.
Besides the launch of the campaign, the public were given a chance to pack items into field packs and try their hand at flight simulators at the two-day Safra Jurong Open House.