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crazy rich Asian quiet neighbours to the south, Singapore, are known as one of the safest places in the world, that doesn’t mean that they’re pushovers when it comes to military strength. In fact, Singapore ranks as the top military power in Southeast Asia, and are often seen as having the most effective man-for-man armed force in Asia.
Because of their small size, Singapore was forced to invest heavily in their military, cos if not, sure kena buli la. While they only have 72,000 active personnel, they spend up to 3-4% (sometimes 5%) of their national GDP on their military alone (in comparison, Malaysia only spends about 1.13% on its military)! Singapore even develops, manufactures, and exports its own military equipment!
Obviously they rarely get to use these military superpowers (cos peaceful maa), but during a recent visit to the Singaporean National Army Training Facility on Pulau Tekong, we heard a rather entertaining story… starting way back in 2004, and starring some armed runaway robbers from Malaysia?!
*Cue Singaporeans going “you Malaysians again ah?!”*
Our story begins in Johor…
… where our three stooges (one Malaysian and two Indonesians), armed with a shotgun and two pistols, mugged a businessman at a market in Sedili, Kota Tinggi as he was stepping into his car, stealing RM600 in the process. Of course, RM600 is nowhere near enough to fund the #thuglyfe of Gudang Garam ciggies and aerodynamic kapchai bikes, so they then langgar-ed a tour boat operator, grabbing another RM10,000 before they ciao-ed the scene.
Our PDRM boyz-in-blue started to give chase, but, in a shrewd stroke of brilliance, the robbers had also managed to pinch a motorised sampan from said tour boat operator before gunning it towards Batam, Indonesia!
However, with the fuzz hot on their tail, they were forced to change course to Pulau Tekong in Singapore, where they docked their boat, split up, and went to hide in the jungle.
Sounds like the perfect Hollywood escape plan, right?
Little did they know that… Tekong is actually a Singapore Armed Forces base!
Yeahhh, what they apparently didn’t realise was that Pulau Tekong is actually the main army camp where Singapore trains its NS recruits.
So, when Malaysia buzzed Singapore to be on alert for three armed robbers, the SAF, understandably excited at finally being given something to do in peacetime besides smoke cigarettes and go on dates with their rifles, mobilised 400 soldiers (including Gurkhas) and 300 policemen armed with assault rifles, a dozen sniffer dogs, two attack helicopters, AND special forces equipped with night-vision goggles. To find three small-time muggers. THREE.
If that’s not kiasu, we don’t know what is.
But the happiest must’ve been the 5,000 or so NS trainees on the island, who were confined to their quarters for ‘indoor training’, since their instructors were called to help out too. In other words, cuti la beb.
Anyway, since Pulau Tekong is 90% jungle and swamps, it took them some time to track these jokers down. Things weren’t helpful when it started to rain in the late afternoon, but the soldiers carried on the search through the night thanks to their fancy night-vision goggles.
Even the Coast Guard got in on the act by cordoning off the island with their patrol craft, just in case the robbers attempted to… I dunno, swim away?
All in all, the SAF search team spent a whole 3 days to find the robbers
But find them they did, and it was clear that 2 of the 3 bozos were not the brightest bulbs in the box, as these two guys were caught by the Gurkha Contingent trying to make it back to their sampan. I mean, you don’t park your vehicle illegally in Singapore and expect it to still be there when you get back, right?
Buuuut, mad props to the other fella, who was found hiding in the bushes, cos apparently he survived by drinking rainwater and eating coconuts; proving once and for all that Singaporean food is indeed, edible.
Anyway, Singapore’s courts ended up giving robbers Do, Re, and Mi (not their actual names) the maximum sentence of 7 years in prison and 12 strokes of the rattan for illegal entry into Singapore, as well as carrying firearms. As their presiding judge said, these men were ‘no ordinary criminals’, and had ‘displayed an alarming bravado’.
Well, on the bright side, they did give your armed forces one hell of a training exercise.
Actually, Singapore’s armed forces quite ‘keng’, but always bored cos nothing to do
Having the flashiest equipment in the region doesn’t really count for anything if you don’t get to use them. And Singapore rarely gets to use them. Which is why they gotta stay sharp by mobilising their troops every now and then.
“… whether it’s for humanitarian action, low-intensity conflict or terrorism threat, or even in the unthinkable scenario of outright war, I think Singaporeans have that confidence that the army is ready, and NSmen are committed and ready to be equipped, to be able to fulfil their mission.” – Ng Eng Hen, Singapore Defence Minister
And, as demonstrated with events such as their swift capture of the three robbers as well as the runaway elephant crisis of 1990 (yeahhh, we give you weird problems to solve, Singapore, sorry about that), they can always be counted on to help us out in a tight fix.
So yeahhh Singapore, we know we make fun of your kiasu-ness and the fact that our food is better, but hey, at least we know we’ve got each other’s backs in case poop ever goes down!