|The 7th batch of Officer Cadet Trainees posing for a group shot. PHOTO: Joanne Yan|
“Many funny moments back then. When the commander shouted ‘Squad!’ we all squat down in the middle of the parade square,” said Supt(NS) Ow Kok Meng, remembering the good old National Service training days at Old Police Academy.
Catching up with the good old National Service days, 14 alumni from 1982’s 7th Police Officer Cadet Trainees (OCT) batch gathered for lunch to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the batch’s passing out at the Senior Police Officers’ Mess (SPOM) on 24 March 2012.
Having spent nine months training together from March-December 1982, it was not difficult for the buddies of the 7th batch of Police Officer Cadet Trainees to recount the hilarious moments and tough challenges they faced together.
This is the second reunion for the batch as they previously met in March 2007 at the Old Police Academy Swimming Pool for their silver jubilee.
Like young cadets once more, the men who were mostly in their late forties, exchanged friendly hugs and poked fun at one another.
“We ‘pranked’ a lot too, removed some springs from the mattress of one of the guys, so when he sat down, he fell right through the centre,” recounted ASP(NS) K Arul.
“Back then, the cupboards front and back look the same, so we flipped it around and drew on a keyhole. The poor guy couldn’t figure out why he can’t open his cupboard!” he laughed.
Comprising 96 officers, the 7th batch had seven Singapore Police Force (SPF) Overseas Scholars and the officers have moved on to become lawyers, teachers, actors and heads of government agencies.
The most prominent among them is Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs
He joined in on the celebrations as well.
|Officers from the 7th Police Officer Cadet Trainees (OCT) batch posing for a shot in their bunk. PHOTO: Supt(NS) Mohd Azman Bin Mohd Sidek |
“We came from different backgrounds, the seven to eight months was a wonderful bonding experience,” said the Minister of State fondly.
Supt(NS) Mohd Azman Bin Mohd Sidek recalled: “Masagos will be sitting on his bed, with the stack of police books about 2-2.5 feet high, all Penal Code, Instruction Manuals, Law books and he would be reading all day in the upper bunk beside me.”
Other prominent members of the batch include Mr Soh Wai Wah, Director of the Singapore Prisons Service, Mr Tan Puay Kern, Executive Director of the Security Department at Marina Bay Sands and Mr Leo Yip, Chairman of the Economic Development Board.
Another key part of their NS training days was their company commander and instructor, Inspector (APF) Sri Kanthan.
“He (Insp Sri Kanthan) was strict but in a fatherly way. He will explain why he had to scold us or told us to do things, will relate why it is important, a holistic way of educating us,” said Supt(NS) Mohd Azman, who is now the Vice Principal of Millennia Institute.
“He really helped us stretch our fitness capacity and performance. We were all fitness freaks. Most of us were clocking under eight minutes for our 2.4km run and Mr Kanthan would give us special permission to continue our training after 5pm,” he added.
Insp Kanthan also joined the batch mates for the reunion lunch.
The batch, comprising of outstanding athletes and national runners clinched many sporting awards.
“Azman beat the the Gurkhas in the 20km walk, and another week later, he beat the Gurkhas in cross country which has never happened before,” said Supt (NS) Ow, who is now a senior education officer with the Ministry of Education.
In the history of SPF, Supt(NS) Ow Kok Meng is the only athlete that has won the Police Sports Association Annual Cross-Country and Big Walk in the same year, 1984.
“For the Inter-Squad Cross-Country, we had eight out of the 10 finishers in the Academy and we also won the inter-squad boxing, they were real solid.”
The end of their full-time National Service period did not mean the end of friendship.
|The 7th batch of Officer Cadet Trainees taking a group photo in their uniforms. PHOTO: Supt(NS) Mohd Azman Bin Mohd Sidek |
These die-hard sportsmen got together and started the REAL (Regular Exercise Active Lifestyle) Run in 1997 for then Singapore Police Association for NSmen (SPANS) and now Home TeamNS.
Supt (NS) Ow, SUPT(NS) Mohd Azman and ASP(NS) K Arul conceptualised the annual run which has grown and now attracts more than 10,000 participants per year.
Supt(NS) Mohd Azman has been appointed as a member of HTNS for the last 15 years.
The trio still meet twice a month for runs.
It is clear from the 14, their National Service was priceless time of their life and even as the reunion lunch ended, they were already throwing up ideas for their next get together.
As 2012 is also the year Singapore National Service celebrates its 45th birthday, Home Team News asked them what it meant to them.
“Keeping the country safe and secure was important. Our contributions as NSFs, alongside the regulars and volunteers are a tripartite keeping this country safe for us to work, live and play,” said Mr Yap Shao Peng, Director of Licensing at the Media Development Authority.
“It was a key to economic stability as well.”
General Counsel of Petra Foods Limited, Mr Gerald Chew: “Whilst we were only NS men and our part in the entire scheme of things was very small, we learnt from the organization and each other and went through fun and hard times together, which is probably why many of us still keep in touch with each other.”
|The 7th batch of Officer Cadet Trainees gathering outside the Singapore Police Officers' Mess for their 30th anniversary reunion PHOTO: Joanne Yan|
For the Minister of State Mr Masagos, he had a special message for his son.
"To my son who is doing NS, we know you're suffering and perhaps you think that you have better things to do, but later on when you look back you will see the importance and the special things that National Service does to you,” he said.
“Firstly a sense of duty that you have discharged as a citizen and you also get to know people across a whole spectrum of life which you would not have met in your normal work or even your school. You see your children doing national service, in your head you know that someone's taking care of the country.”
Many of his squad mates nodded in agreement.
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|They are now lawyers, directors, heads of government agencies and one among them is a Minister of State. Buddies of the 7th batch of Police Officer Cadet Trainees from 1982 gathered to celebrate the good old times. Find out more. |