Reactions: 'Are we moving in right direction?'
Reactions from NSmen were mixed, with several claiming online that the new system is a step back.
Netizen Amos Kee commented on Dr Ng’s Facebook post: “IPPT is supposed to keep the NSman physically and mentally fit, ready for defence when the need arises.
“But we are tweaking the system to help our unfit soldiers pass. Are we moving in the right direction?”
Cabby Chia Song Heng, 64, who was part of the pioneer generation of NSmen, told The New Paper: “In the past, we had to run three miles (4.83km) while carrying our old SAR 80 rifles.
“That was in the name of physical fitness. And we saw people faint.
“When I hear young people talking about the new system, I feel ashamed. It’s really a soft system.”
Full-time National Serviceman Nick Tan, 23, who has been getting gold in IPPT, said: “The new system makes it very easy for people to pass. I feel like the gold award is not as prestigious any more.”
He added that the new flexible scoring system also makes it possible for people to find a loophole, such as training only for the push-up and the sit-up stations as it is easier to gain points that way.
“With the points table like this, I don’t think I want to train as hard for my running,” he said.
But the reaction from many working NSmen TNP spoke to was largely positive.
A domestic service company’s chief executive officer, Mr Fitzkhoon Liang, 27, welcomed the new system.
“If the Government’s aim is to make me feel like I can now achieve more, then it’s definitely working. It sure feels like I can achieve something better than before,” he said.
Accountant Jeremy How, 26, has been failing his IPPT every year since his operational-ready date in 2008. He has been going for 20 sessions of compulsory remedial training (RT) every year. RT is meant for those who fail their IPPT.
Said Mr How: “I go for the RT sessions yearly because it always seems too difficult to pass in the first place. So this new system potentially makes it more convenient for me if I can finally pass.
“I also feel more motivated to start passing. It’s much better than not being able to pass one station, such as the standing broad jump, and in turn failing overall because of that.”
Nanyang Technological University undergrad Sebastian Markus Lioewanta, 26, said: “On one hand, the system runs the risk of people being complacent. But on the other hand, I look at my brother-in-law and some of my friends, and I think it’s good for them and their family.
“They don’t have enough time as it is and with RT, they hardly get to see their family. It gets to the point where some of them would rather get charged for not turning up for RT.”
I go for the RT sessions yearly because it always seems too difficult to pass in the first place. So this new system potentially makes it more convenient for me if I can finally pass. I also feel more motivated to start passing.
- Accountant Jeremy How, 26