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Service before Self: SCDF NSmen with the Right Stuff
Shouldering the responsibilities of leadership comes naturally to two stalwart SCDF NSmen.

Home Team News SCDF NSmen 2020 01B
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

This year, the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) National Servicemen (NSmen) of the Year Award went to two veteran officers who embody the best of the Lifesaving Force – Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (NS) Jason Tan and First Warrant Officer (WO1) (NS) Charles Fakhri Baz. They share their stories with us. 

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PHOTO: Fazlee Rosli

LTC (NS) Jason Tan 
Commander, 41 Public Shelter and Resilience Unit, SCDF
LTC (NS) Jason Tan has been in the Public Service for over 20 years, having joined SCDF in 1998 as a regular senior officer. After a transfer of service in 2008, he served with the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Education on work related to emergency preparedness before joining the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2016.

Now a Senior Consultant with MHA’s Joint Operations Group, he shares that the skills he has built up during his National Service (NS) days has helped him in his current role. “My work allows me to tap on my expertise in emergency preparedness and crisis management, which I’ve built up over many years with various Ministries,” shared LTC (NS) Jason. “I feel it’s important to share my knowledge and experiences with like-minded individuals in service.” 

Many Roles
LTC (NS) Jason has served as the Commander of 41 Public Shelter and Resilience Unit for six years. The Public Shelter and Resilience Unit is an Operationally Ready National Service unit that comprises officers who take on additional roles as SGSecure mobilisers in their communities, and who are responsible for conducting public outreach initiatives and mobilising community partners. 

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Ready and prepared: LTC (NS) Jason is currently applying his expertise in matters related to emergency preparedness with MHA's Joint Operations Group. PHOTOS: Fazlee Rosli

As part of his duties, LTC (NS) Jason has helped coordinate events such as the NS Commander Get-Together in 2018 and the annual Total Defence Award Dinner. He was also the officer in-charge of the Shelter Open House in 2015 and 2020. “The Open House is an important platform for SCDF to showcase our Civil Defence shelter facilities, capabilities and readiness,” he explained. 

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Stepping up: LTC (NS) Jason Tan conducting a tour of Woodlands MRT Station during the 2015 Shelter Open House, with then-Minister for Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan (left) and SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap (second from left) in attendance. PHOTO: SCDF

Helping the Team Excel
A hands-on leader, LTC (NS) Jason seeks to help his officers develop their capabilities and sense of confidence, so that they can eventually take on their own leadership roles. This can span many different areas. “Some of my officers were initially uncomfortable with public speaking, for example,” he shared. “But they’ve been able to overcome this hurdle, thanks to the efforts and encouragement of more experienced team-mates. I’m proud of them all, as this is a demonstration of our excellent teamwork!” 

For LTC (NS) Jason, age is just a number. The 44-year-old makes it a point to run regularly with his officers during In-Camp Training sessions, and participates in the HomeTeamNS REAL Run every year. A recent slipped disc injury hasn’t dented his determination to maintain his fitness. “Don’t give up, but do listen to your body, and be prepared to adjust your diet and exercise regime,” he explained. 

Doing His Duty
According to LTC (NS) Jason, his NS days have helped to shape his values and commitment to service, and he’s thankful for being able to play his part. “Our NSmen perform roles that augment that of our regular officers and Full-time National Servicemen, during both peacetime and in an emergency,” he said. “While it can be tough to balance the demands of NS with work and family, I’ve received strong support from my family and colleagues. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today!”

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Lifesaving journey: From trainee to helping to lead a Rescue Battalion, WO1 (NS) Charles has come a long way with SCDF. PHOTOS: WO1 (NS) Charles Fakhri Baz

WO1 (NS) Charles Fakhri Baz
Company Sergeant Major, 21B Rescue Battalion, SCDF
Having grown up in Abu Dhabi, it’s no wonder that when WO1 (NS) Charles enlisted in December 2004, he found our uniquely Singaporean NS culture a shock. Still, he relished the chance to prove himself, giving his best as a lifesaver and embarking on what has become a memorable, lifelong journey of service.

A New Assignment
During his NSF days, WO1 (NS) Charles was serving at Paya Lebar Fire Station when he was given the assignment of being a translator for Qatari firefighters who were undergoing a training stint at the Civil Defence Academy.

“This was in March 2006, and I was at a demonstration session with then-SCDF Commissioner James Tan,” recalled WO1 (NS) Charles. “He received a call about the training stint and was wondering aloud where he could find an officer who knew Arabic. I raised my hand, told the Commissioner I could speak Arabic, and he made arrangements for me to be transferred to the Civil Defence Academy!”

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Partnerships abroad: As part of his duties, WO1 (NS) Charles travelled to Qatar in 2006 and was stationed at Aziziyah Fire Station in Doha. PHOTOS: WO1 (NS) Charles Fakhri Baz

Leading by Example
This experience showed WO1 (NS) Charles the value of drawing upon the strengths of his officers in order to achieve collective goals. In his current role as Company Sergeant Major of 21B Rescue Battalion, this is something that WO1 (NS) Charles continues to do. 

Even as he upholds discipline in the ranks, WO1 (NS) Charles maintains a good rapport with his officers, and is always ready to lend a listening ear. “Leadership is a two-way street because you’re only as good as the people under your supervision,” he explained. “At the same time, it’s also important for us to listen to their concerns and let them know they’re heard and cared for.”

The Best Years
A product engineer by vocation, WO1 (NS) Charles enjoys giving back to the community whenever he can. Since 2018, he has been an active member of the Community Emergency and Engagement Committee (C2E), and has been involved in several crisis response exercises. “I share my experiences during meetings with fellow C2E members, and contribute in any way I can,” he said. “It’s a step removed from my hands-on lifesaving duties, but I find it equally meaningful.”

It’s not uncommon to hear NSmen reminisce about the great times they had during NS, and this is a sentiment that WO1 (NS) Charles shares – “It was the time of my life,” he affirmed. “I learnt many important lifesaving skills that I’d never have acquired anywhere else, while gaining the confidence to apply these skills to really help people.”

LTC (NS) Jason Tan and WO1 (NS) Charles Fakhri Baz received the NSmen of the Year Award 2020 for their significant contributions and excellent performances during NS. 

Read: Service before Self: SCDF NSFs with the Right Stuff
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Fazlee Rosli
  2. 02 October 2020
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