Sunday, July 22, 2012

Enemy in sight: Local film to show Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) battling the Enemy on home ground

For the price of a cinema ticket, you can discover how Singaporean film maker/comedian/cross-dresser Jack Neo addresses the age old question: "Who is our Enemy?"

His upcoming film, Ah Boys to Men, due to premiere on 8 November 2012, promises to pit local thespians and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) war machines in a "war scenario". It's a description that is likely fan the interests of Singapore watchers from Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur as they wait anxiously for how the Enemy will be depicted in this quasi-action flick.

The Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) e-zine, cyberPioneer, said:"While the film promises to entertain with a light comedic touch, Mr Neo revealed that there would also be plenty of exciting action scenes and use of CGI (computer-generated imagery). Expect to see real Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) hardware such as Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles in action during a war scenario where the Singapore heartlands are invaded by enemy forces.

"With support from the Ministry of Defence and SAF, the crew were also able to put several of the 'recruits' through a two-day training programme to familiarise them with the military lifestyle and latest equipment used."


It would be instructive for defence buffs and social commentators to see just how MINDEF/SAF calibrates the signature of the Enemy, because this is a description that officialdom has assiduously avoided in past years.

What we've seen thus far are intensive campaigns that tug at the heart strings of Singaporeans by asking them what they will defend and whom they hold dear. We have had the horror of the Japanese Occupation during the Second World War drummed into our psyche. Privations from shortages of water and food are sometimes replayed in school during Total Defence Day when school kids are deprived of nourishment during recess time. And the race riots.

What we've seen offialdom avoid is a clear and unambiguous description of the Enemy. Instead, the SAF's capability development has been described by the politically correct and non offensive sounding term "multi spectrum". The SAF's transformation is explained on the grounds of being capability-based and not threat-based. The two are different in philosophical orientation but may attain the same end result in terms of military hardware, if you pause to think about it.

We have been told that to name a likely or possible enemy is to make a definite one. So all these years, we have had to contend with the SAF shadow boxing during war games around the world with Enemy combatants from no one particular country or countries.

For those aware of the fragility of Singapore's geo strategic position, the difficulty of MINDEF policy officers and MFA wallas in describing what Singapore needs to guard against doesn't take much imagination.

It is clear that Jack Neo's film is receiving more than tacit support from MINDEF/SAF, which isn't a bad thing because if the film is going to be made anyway, then MINDEF/SAF might as well have cinemagoers impressed with the SAF with National Education (NE) messages discretely sewn into the dialogue/plot/background like product placements so common in blockbusters.

From a defence information management point of view, the portrayal of the Enemy is dicey on these counts:

First, the absence of official literarture on the Enemy may make the young or the impressionable or the sinister-minded use Jack Neo's film as the benchmark for which the Enemy is calibrated and described. If SAF war fighters are sent to fight aliens (Battleship, Battle: Los Angeles, Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Mars Attacks), then the years many of us have spent serving National Service (NS) might be seen as a farce.

If the Enemy comprises terrorists set loose in the heartlands, then would this not count as a job for the police or Special Forces rather than something for the full force potential of the SAF to tackle, swiftly and decisively?

If the Enemy consists of soldiers from Malaysia and/or Indonesia on the war path, we can expect our Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive Third Party Notes from the aggrieved party, not to mention lots of bad press from north and south.

Second, the impression that the SAF is trained, organised and equipped to fight a terrestrial Enemy on homeground is not only wrong, but dangerous as it may seed wrong impressions of the SAF. Heartlanders and ill-informed citizens of this island nation may harbour the impression that this is the kind of land war the SAF has in its drawer plans. And the question of how long Singapore's fighting forces can prevail if the Enemy is allowed to invade home ground may shake confidence among citizens and new Singaporeans.

Granted, this film is part comedy part action flick made in good fun. But it is perhaps more than coincidence that it will premiere in a year when Singaporeans mark 45 years of National Service.

For those of us who know how the system works, you can bet officialdom will milk maximum PR value from Mr Neo's venture by getting the good and the great to say what this film reminds us to defend and how valuable the SAF is to Singapore's defence and security and how we should never take peace and stability for granted.

We know all that. But tell us again, who is the Enemy?

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Anonymous said...

the "enemies" of SG know very well who they are; and of course, SG knows who the "enemies" are, too.

Anonymous said...

My guess is they'll steer clear of naming a specific country (not worth offending north or South right now). Maybe say a big group of armed robbers/pirates coming ashore from neighbouring country (like the real case in the 1990's).
In a Machiavellian (or Sun Tzu) sense, we can make the 'recruits' fight terrorists, making our potential enemies think SAF is now focused on terror threats and weak on conventional warfare, thereby making them underestimate our capabilities in the event of a real war (pray this doesn't happen).

Anonymous said...

so guys, another film about recuit or something better? please, don't always film the same thing like ending must got someone die of a hero or a heroic act ?! national service can be happier ?

Paul said...

Good points David but aren't you also a bit disturbed that MINDEF chose to fund/support a Mandarin movie which be definition excludes a quarter of Singaporeans (unless you mean the second class version of reading subtitles!). Has an impact on CTD and also sends a message to those who claim that the SAF is not as integrated as it could be.....

Anonymous said...

everyone in S'pore knows that jack neo's english cannot swim. so, no choice but to use mandarin.

Anonymous said...

Hollywood movies like indepence day, transformers, battleships, etc has the tacit support from the US armed forces PR machinery to show case their weaponry and a little of the SOP. For instance for call for fire from the special forces on the ground in the transformer movie where we see the Command centre, the predator drones, the A-10 warthog and the C130 gunship all coordinated by the AEW in the air. No doubt its only fighting imaginary robot aliens ;-)

Same goes with the movie - Battleship. This time i believe the US Navy badly needed the public Hollywood spin LOL :-))

Favourable public opinion in turn affects congress funding for the 4 competing armed services ?

Anonymous said...

sigh, i think S, M and I prople can view it this way...

On the whole the 3 countries are cordial at the moment and forces are balanced and keeping the peace. But there is no guarantee that someday, M or I government can control their countries respective factions. There are so many variables that are not within our and their control.

We should be able to talk about this. Would be even better if can make a movie showing our forces working together to help each other overcome a common enemy faction/ party of a gov/military man gone rougue. Fiction ?

PakTorMan said...

The enemy is Republic of Pulau Tekong.

Unhappy Singaporeans who want to live simple and free island lifestyle, led by Mas Selamat (who escapes again from the toilet) decide to take over the island's armoury using 'haunted stories' and Bomoh black magic. They are helped by the citizens of Pulau Ubin who do not want their island turned into another HDB housing estate.

This triggers a pre-emptive move by Gahment to quash the cessationist (did I spell that right?) potential state of Aljunied and the Duchy of Hougang.

Call in the Terrex!

Code name operation "Pukol Habis".

Should be suitably light hearted enoough.;)

AlsoCan! said...

Make the enemy Mandarin speaking Brits in WW2 Kahki shorts (no chance against our pixelated camo)upset with our treatment of transgender/homosexuality issues(in Changi)and opium.

or better yet, maybe a renegade faction of the good old US of A Marine Corp who have confused us with China.

that should get the mandarin speaking heartlanders out for the movie.:D

JohorBoleh2020 said...

Eco Terrorist!

A group of goody two shoes ang mors armed to the teeth who do not like our clogging of the waterways around the Johor river killing off the supply of fish for the Dugongs.

Rumoured backer of the project a very rich man who goes by the code name Sultan.

Probably recruited some expert Brasilian Amazonian Indians to fight for the cause.

not to 'over escalate' the issue or put our NS boys in harms way (because of the letters from concern parents) MINDEF sends a band of hand picked regulars (SOF, NDU types) to sort it out not realising the punji traps and poison dart hell they are about to face.

Several degrees of seperation should make it politically less sensitive. Villains should be experts in using CB leaf for cover.

Anylobangalsocan1945 said...

A very large man slapping people to death with equally dead fish in Yishun is put down by the Police but turns out to be the wife of the ambassador of the Soviet Republic of Russiana (any resemblance to any countries or persons purely unintentional)

This triggers a massive island hopping campaign to punish Singapore starting with (of course) Pulau Tekong in part because the hovercraft carrying the Marines breaks down due to a collision with a Singapore Navy gun boat (captain's excuse, gun jam so no need to sign 1206)

The full might of the SAF5G is called into action to free the trapped recruits before they are (further) brain washed by the dastardly communist.

Because the leader of the Soviets is a cunning linguist who understands all Asian language except Southern Chinese dialects (in particular Hokkien...heng ah), only HOkkien soldiers are sent (Sorry speak mandarin campaign, another Gahment U turn)

KomBanWa said...

Forgot to add :

And since new generation soldier bloody hopeless cannot speak Hokkien properly, must recall Lao Peng starting with Jack Neo who is now a monk in the Shaolin Monastry (*Genting Highland chapter). Naturally, he will put his new found Iron Buddha Belly skills to good use in concert with upgrading with SAF commando course, and ubeatable combination.

* for people recovering from the habit of gambling in Singapore Casinos.

ChopGahjah said...

An army of circus elephants led by an evil ringmaster has taken over Pulau Tekong (again)

Because Kiasu...Singapore government will probably send Gurkhas. (HDB kids where got know about elephant what right?)

BUT the Gurkhas need transport an the only guy(s) they can find who can speak Mandarin laced Gurkhali AND drink the Gurkhas to the toilet is an old soldier Jack Neo) and his retrenched buddies (China peole take over job) who helped invent the Terrex (and every 155mm gun in our invetory as bestowed upon him by the divine wisdom of some Mexican Tequila drinking Rabbis)

He volunteers himself and his friends (all over 45) to take the Gurkhas valiantly forth in a specially customised Terrex networked to train every 155 system available to decimate the elephants with pint point accuracy (but they must first find the elephants using the Gurkah's keen sense of smell along with the trail of feces left by the rampaging "paki"derms*)

Explosive (IED trained) Elephants were from an Al Quaeda funded Pakistani circus train

Plus points : Should be a good sales pitch to India for our big guns and not run foul this time of any anti-corruption issues.

Down side. there are none. It's a winner.

Anonymous said...

there you have it ! LOL

ManFromUncleChua said...

Bare chested Amazons from a disaffected tribe in inland Borneo decide to take over our training camp in Temburong, unhappy with our Rangers overstepping their rights to rich Durian hunting grounds.

Sultan of Brunei wisely declares this a Singapore sovereign matter so no Gurkhas. Sorry wrong number.

Send in the Terrex and 5G SAF along with a team of sexual harrassment (who is doing the harrassing)experts from the SDU with Jack Neo as the leader.

By chance, the datardly harlots have been through a Mandarin language course thanks to unsuccessful Chinese T shirt salesmen.

The misunderstanding is resolved.

To win without fighting, that is motto of the 5GSAF.

To make love not war. That is the message of the 5GSDU.

AhBuayLiao said...

Sentosa is taken over by a horde of NeonThong clad Tankini wearing French menwho are parachuted in by the OCCUPY movement in the interest of taking over the Casino

(Other operation by Sling Bikinied and overweight Italian damsels not quite so successful)

SDU Special Forces called into action but they fail to work their charm this tim on the surly Frenchie beach bums.

No choice. Unleashe the full might of the networked 6G SAF full 'spectrum' force before the Galic tanning enthusiast can unleash their evil wikileak plan to destabilise our bread and butter pudding.

Retired sarong wearing Army Staff Sergeant Jack Neo now working as a high ranking barrista is our inside man on blakang mati (no pun)if only he didn't find french so hard to pronounce.

Introducing Terrex limited edition with language conversion add on and Serge Gainsbourg Psychop module.

Where got problem?

Anonymous said...

Not paying for this shit. Waiting for this to hit youtube or a torrent just to see the war machines.

My advice is that anything from Jack Neo is not worth your money.

After all, how many Nots and Not IIs has he produced?

Anonymous said...

David, just pointing out that you need not name a foe to increase C2D. All you have to do is portray a cruel enemy, replete with grisly torture, in your movies and history books. People's ignorance will do the rest because the simplistic message is reinforced whenever they briefly think about it. The seeds of this mentality will grow well enough for the rest of their lives.

Your message does not even need to be accurate. When Japan invaded us, which nation provided the most fucking useless troops most prone to retreat and later collaboration?

Check the current sec sch history books- you used to, but you won't find the answer inside any more. And we damn well know why.

Anonymous said...

Everybody knows that the enemy is within. Even if spend 20% of GDP on defence is useless.

David Boey said...

Hi everyone,
It will be interesting to watch whether this is a movie where Mr Neo gets full artistic freedom, or whether MINDEF/SAF's support results in a screenplay designed by committee.

Movie plots can be simple yet engaging. The movie L'Assaut (The Assault) about the French GIGN centered on one hostage rescue mission. The award winning No Man's Land had three main actors stuck in a trench in Bosnia.

I actually think Ops Crimson Angel would make a more compelling movie delivered in 90 mins on non-stop action. It was a successful military op that showed inter-Service cooperation and none of our immediate neighbours would come off badly. Spliced with actual footage, it could result in a touching storyline based on real life events.

re: Movie scenarios. You fellas can be quite hilarious sometimes :)

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

Lets not be cynical who the enemy is. SAF can just simple show a red force...leave it to the audience to guess who the red force is. Russia? China? Or others...that is a common scenerio played out numerously by TRADOC.

Anonymous said...

Do we need to be so naive?
The possible enemy is ALL of those.

1. North and south
2. Resource hungry countries with bulging military muscle. (USA / India / China)
3. Terrorists
4. None of the above (a fictional enemy designed as a bogeyman for political expedience)

Haha! It is more likely we will come to economic ruin rather than military defeat.

ikhwan said...

check out what this vacuous, 3rd-rate blog with a rather pronounced crypto-islamofascist bent has to say...

tsk tsk... empty vessels DO seem to make the most noise, do they not?

Anonymous said...

The 3rd rate blog you called has an impressive following of readers and an Alexa rating of 300,000+. Why don't you go to his site and rebut him instead of making noise like an empty vessel yourself over here?

Anonymous said...

I met an ex-govt man who spoke with a measure of credibility. He assured me the enemy of greatest concern after Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1G SAF period was Vietnam. Vietnam's million man army was apparently deemed capable of launching from occupied Cambodia through Thailand and Malaysia to get us, and sustaining its forces all the way. Of course it would beg the question why.

Anonymous said...

Lol ikhwan, you surely are one big empty vessel..thanks to you, i got the chance to read a splendid article!

Even Mas Selamat you guys cannot handle properly, still want to point north and south as enemies.