By Nicholas Koo
To most, Brandon Tan is just a student. To some, the second-year student at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) is also a hall president.
But to Singapore, the 22-year-old is a crucial pillar of defence on our seas — this Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regular is a naval officer in the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
Regulars, as they are commonly known in Singapore, are in-service personnel employed by the SAF.
Tan said the lessons he learnt in the military — such as making the most out of every day and doing what is right, not what is popular — are applicable in school as well.
Tan has stepped up to take on numerous leadership positions, such as president of the Junior Common Room Committee (JCRC) in the Hall of Residence 8, and chief group leader for MAE’s freshmen orientation programme.
Tan said in both school and work, his purpose behind serving is the same.
“It’s about serving the greater good, and goes beyond doing things for oneself,” he said.
Fighting the same battle, but on different terrain, is army engineer Peh Mu Ru, a military expert in the SAF.
Peh, 24, picked up floorball during his course of study at the School of Materials Science and Engineering.
As he had no background in the sport, Peh trained hard to catch up with his peers who had years of experience.
Once a week, he would do shooting drills on his own at the Sports and Recreation Centre (SRC). He also made a point to practise stick work every day for 10 to 15 minutes.
With discipline — one of the armed forces’ eight core values — and some help from his friends, Peh eventually made the Singapore University Games (SUniG) team where he helped NTU clinch the championship for the second year running.
Though Peh will return to the force after graduating this year, he wants to continue playing floorball to keep fit.
Apart from floorball, another skill that requires discipline and grit is playing the guitar, according to Nanyang Business School first-year student Xavier Poon, a regular from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
During his national service, Poon saw how he could contribute to the defence of Singapore. He decided to sign on as an air warfare officer responsible for command, control and communications (C3).
In trying times, music brought Poon through his national service. He would often play the guitar with his buddy in Officer Cadet School.
The 21-year-old’s passion stuck and he now plays the electric guitar for a band in Pioneer Hall — a skill that he recently picked up, after switching from playing the classical guitar.
It has since evolved into an avenue for him to meet people and make music. He said:
“Instead of finding friends that play music, why not make friends through music?”