Two Years of Eternity
With all the recent news regarding war and its tentacles, this series takes a refreshing look at what goes on behind the battlefield. This is an intimate look at my personal journey in the Singapore conscript system. A system that was viewed with suspicion by parents when it first started; it is now a national institution.
Already planning to document my life in the Army before I enlisted, I sought permission from various sources before finally getting only a week’s clearance after I emailed a member of parliament. Fed-up with the red tape, most of the images you see here were shot with cameras smuggled into camp. It was never easy. Imagine all the heart-thumping moments every time I sneaked in a camera through the gates and escaped the checks. The thought of squatting with other inmates in the detention barracks was never far from my mind.
This takes a look at the various stereotypical characters that one meets in the army. Even as the government always loves proclaiming that national service is a melting pot, a potpourri of backgrounds and race, we are still categorized.
From the uneducated beng(jocks) to the Junior College schoolboys, we are all stuck in the same predicament at an age where we change the most. These pictures capture them in the process of metamorphosis, the “in-between” of the clichéd boys to men.
Being posted into the dog unit for the rest of my ns life was the best thing that happened to me. Where the rules of the “zoological gaze” are inverted, canines and soldiers often share the same sleeping and peeing area while on duty and in camp. “Soldiers or Dogs” and “We are treated like dogs” are complaints often thrown around. Just like the canine which are bound to serve us by the leash for fear of pain, we were bound to serve and obey by military law by fear of imprisonment. The unit was an interesting place to observe man and beasts in the same predicament, bringing both almost to an equal.