A photograph of a maid carrying a soldier’s rucksack as she walked behind him has sparked outrage in Singapore and concern that recruits to its armed forces are a pampered lot.
The picture, published in the Singaporean media and on the Internet this week, showed the soldier in military fatigues and combat boots strolling on a footpath.
His female maid followed a step behind with the military--issued rucksack slung over her left shoulder.
Reactions to the photograph, which was first posted on Facebook, ranged from amusement to anger and claims that Singapore’s current generation of soldiers were “softies.”
“Behind every successful SAF [Singapore Armed Forces] soldier, there is a maid,” Chinteresting wrote, tongue in cheek, on Twitter.
“SAF should find the maid fast. Enlist her to the Army, she’s strong” tweeted Rod_Man14.
“If he can’t carry his own field pack, how to depend on this kind of soldier to defend Singapore,” Heavencry09 lamented on the chat forum of news portal xinmsn.
Singapore maintains a -conscript-based military. Every able-bodied male citizen and permanent resident 18 years old and above must undergo two years of military training.
News reports have published criticism that current training drills are not as tough as the training undergone by older generations because of complaints from parents.
Analysts, however, said the rucksack photograph was not a fair representation of today’s armed forces.
“This was one incident, I think the only conclusion we can generally make is that that soldier does indeed come across as soft and pampered,” said Bernard Loo, an expert on military affairs at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
However, he said it was unfair to generalize based on the picture, and that current servicemen were actually fitter than their predecessors.
“I think the statistics probably would tell us that by and large, the average national serviceman is physically fitter today than his counterparts were, say 15, 20 years ago,” Loo said on Wednesday.