Friday, March 26, 2010

Friend of the media

Today, I remember Colonel Bernard Tan Cheow Han, a friend of the media who left us suddenly on a Sunday morning four years ago.

From what I hear, COL Tan made a fine officer, family man and was the kind of person who nurtured life-long friendships.

His peer group officers, fellow warfighters and soldiers who served under his leadership fondly remember him till today. Not all military officers earn that sort of respect.

From what I experienced, he was a credit to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Who can forget his ready smile, affable nature and genuine warmth that did much to forge meaningful defence media relations?

During Operation Flying Eagle in January 2005, COL Tan was part of the SAF team that made a firsthand appreciation of conditions in-theatre.

Despite having many things to assess, he made time to pull me aside during the visit, asked how things were and if there were any issues I wanted to raise with him directly. There were none (actually there were, but I settled them at LTC level and below). Conditions were austere but we coped as best we could despite the steep learning curve for all those involved in the operation.

The Colonel’s care and concern for the Singaporean media embedded with the OFE Humanitarian Assistance Support Group did much to keep us focused on our sense of purpose and kept our morale high. Truth be told, I would have been happy to stay out there a lot longer, waking up every morning with a 141-metre long LST beneath my feet.

COL Tan did much to raise the operational readiness of the Army’s information officers and improve the Singapore Army’s attitude towards journalists. Their attitude was guided by the tagline, “Who else needs to know?”, rather than a secretive “need to know” mentality that had shackled defence information management for years.

Army personnel who continue his outreach honour his memory by ensuring the Singapore Army continues to grow its pool of friends and supporters.

COL Bernard Tan touched the L.I.V.Es of many and is missed by his family and all who knew him.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for remembering.

goat89 said...

RIP COL Bernard Tan.

Anonymous said...

RIP, COL Bernard Tan.

Mr. Boey, thank you for remembering.

Anonymous said...

More postings please!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...


I know and have spoken to some of the junior officers in OFE, some of whom were not very happy with the media presence and reporting(that typical "need to know" mentality that still permeates the echelons of the SAF)...

COL Tan's leadership with respect to media relations during OFE gave the SAF an almost unheard of visibility to the world and even to us Singaporeans. It was a tragedy that he was called back at such a young age, what else could he have accomplished during his career will never be known.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for remembering a true officer and a gentleman. A man who put others before himself. A loving husband and a caring father. God Bless his family.