Monday, March 16, 2015

SG50 Jubilee Weekend: No leave windfall for the SAF, Home Team and essential services

Now that Friday 7 August 2015 has been declared a Public Holiday in Singapore, chances are leave application systems in companies around the island will be bombarded with requests by staff eager to stretch a long weekend into a super long one.

Just four days of Annual Leave applied from Monday, 3 August, to Thursday, 6 August, would grant one leave of absence for 10 days away from the office.

But as staff call up their respective leave entitlements to punch in those hot dates, spare a thought for the thousands of others who will remain at their post.

That number is not small.

There's no holiday for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Home Team.

Essential transport services like buses and trains will have to be kept  running. Hospital staff will have their usual case load to attend to. It will also be business as usual at our ports and airports and border crossing points.

As for the list of museums, parks and recreational facilities which promise free entry to Singaporeans that Jubilee Weekend - staff at such premises cannot possibly grab the opportunity to go for a 10-day vacation.

Add to this the retail, food and beverage outlets, hotels, plus utilities (power, water, sanitation) and the number of staff who have to remain on duty swells into the tens of thousands.

For the SAF and Home Team, that Jubilee Weekend will be a security operation like no other. It is clearly a high signature event which has to be kept safe and incident-free as best we can. The Jubilee Weekend duty roster is likely to include the full panoply of SAF crisis management and response assets. This includes the usual suspects such as CBRE, SAF Medical Corps, Military Police Command, Island Defence Group and many others working behind-the-scenes to keep things in check. There will also be the complement of Alert Red Force units, including battalions staffed by Operationally-Ready National Servicemen, who will be on alert that weekend.

Apart from enhanced Island Defence operations, the SAF is integral to SG50 celebrations anchored upon the 9 August National Day Parade.

Word has it a flypast made up of some 50 fixed and rotary-wing machines, including a Singapore Airlines A380 airliner, is on the cards.

The Mobile Column is also expected to make a comeback after a five-year absence. This year's moving display of military might and Home Team assets is said to be the biggest ever. (Tank fans will have to wait possibly another year before the New Vehicle makes its appearance. Be patient,)

All that hardware will need scores of ground crew and maintenance personnel. These professionals will be tasked to ensure their charges are show ready on the big day (and during the Combined Rehearsals leading up to NDP50).

Add up the numbers and you'll realise the number of Singaporeans who cannot enjoy that Annual Leave windfall is not small.

The many happenings during the Jubilee Weekend will call upon a sizeable number of people who will not have any holiday to enjoy. They will remain at their post to do what has to be done.

And for that, Singaporeans should be grateful.

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