Why do SAF officers fly business class to exercises?

An army officer I knew from my national service days was travelling to Australia recently for a military exercise. From his social media account, I saw that he was travelling in business class on a commercial airline (Air New Zealand). Another friend, a junior NSF officer, also travelled in business class to an overseas military exercise some years ago.

Thus, it seems that commissioned officers, whether regulars or NSFs, get to enjoy the privilege of travelling in business class for overseas missions.

I am curious over the need for them to do so, although this may be acceptable if the entire flight is chartered by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) or if the officers fork out their own money for a seat upgrade.

Is it because officers need the privacy on board to work on sensitive documents? Some might argue that officers deserve to travel on business class because they serve the country. But if that is the basis, then all soldiers should travel on business class too since their contributions are not insignificant either.

I can accept it if the SAF has a legitimate reason behind such an arrangement, but without any justification, the public may construe this as an unnecessarily extravagant use of taxpayers’ resources. After all, a business class ticket is much more expensive than an economy class one.

 

Sean Lim

* Letter first appeared on ST Forum and is reproduced for discussion.

 

Editor’s note: MINDEF has provided an explaination which can be found here.

 

 

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30 Responses to “Why do SAF officers fly business class to exercises?”

  • Went to Japan:

    70% ok with it, what to do?

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  • PC Ong:

    Ok I admit first I was an officer in the army, so I will defend my fellow officers. It doesn’t mean I am self-serving. Firstly, it is not easy to make it to OCS. It is also not easy to pass out from OCS as the training is very rigorous. After completing OCS, we become platoon commanders, meaning we take responsibility for the lives of our men. We are also involved with our unit CO in the strategic planning of out-field exercises. Our responsibilities are huge. So flying on business class is just a little perk to motivate and reward us. Nothing wrong with this. And most important, our country can afford it, we are not Malaysia or Greece, this will not strain our national budget. And not say we fly 1st class (which is excessive). So please lah, accept the recognition our officers get and don’t be sour grapes.

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  • so wat else is new?:

    entitlement attitude.
    learnt from the top people.

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  • REGIME CHANGE is the solution:

    Another good reason for REGIME CHANGE.

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  • Asd:

    I think it is tax payer money give SIA then SIA give money to rich share holder lor then who the share holder ??

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  • John Lim:

    Do you object if a general travels by business class?

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  • NotMyProblem:

    If not how to justify for the huge defence budget?

    MOE cannot let go of $156, but MINDEF can spent on business class airfare!

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  • Harder Truths:

    Because First Classis already booked solid by the other non-military staff (and their familees) for the same ‘exercise’.

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  • MarBowling:

    Those jokers are on serious business assignment, so need to travel on business class!

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  • where money going to come from:

    PC Ong: And most important, our country can afford it, we are not Malaysia or Greece, this will not strain our national budget.

    Haven’t we heard that before? They always have the budget to spend on themselves. Those charged with the decision to spend tax payers money are also mostly military officers or ex-military officers too.

    Now, when it comes to spending on the under-privileged or those marginalized or discriminated by the PAP’s unfair and unjust policies, they always ask: where is the money going to come from?

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  • Dr. Chan:

    White horse, fake scholar, Paper Officers/Generals must fly first class. Singapore will not be able to attract best of best talents to become white horse, fake scholar, paper officers/generals in SAF if not given highest pay, best benefits.
    Although they don’t have even one day of real life combat experience, (only play virtual war shooting game), similar to the one I play on my playstation, still they must have best travel, accomodation (5 star hotel suite).
    Because they don’t know how to endure physical hardship or fight real war. They only can sit in air-con room, order and tekkan foot soldiers to do all the dirty work.
    Military air plane transport is not good enough for them. Not even economy class. 70% voters approved.

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  • A Nation Of Dumb Parrots:

    REGIME CHANGE is the solution:
    Another good reason for REGIME CHANGE.

    Dumbos within the tiny bubble perhaps don’t see that as cronyism and corruption of the ruling elites.
    A tiny country kidnapped by a handful of self entitled fake aristocrats.

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  • Are You An Ah Qua Officer ?:

    @PC Ong

    Good to hear that you were an officer in the SAF. I was also an officer trained by the Israelis military officers who had returner from the six day war with the Arabs.

    The Israelis taught us the reasons why we were chosen to be officers to lead the men. It was because we were better, tougher, faster etc and can take any forms of hardship compared to our men. That’s why in war we would be in front leading our men to fight. That was how they fought and won against the Arabs.

    If you want your soldiers to die for you, you have to show them that you care and look after them and is one of them. Why do you want to have special privilege and treatment. If you treat yourself as a special class human being, then in war you will be the first person that your men will shoot from behind.

    You have to show a good example by doing the same thing that your men do eg eat the same food as them etc..

    Come on, will you die flying on economic class ? Nowadays our officers seems to be getting soft and pampered especially the Paper Generals. Like that how to win a War ?

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  • A Nation Of Dumb Parrots:

    John Lim:
    Do you object if a general travels by business class?

    Yes, even more so for paper generals.
    Never trust a soldier who travels first class or do not lead by example to fight.
    If you believe they can lead or protect then you must be dreaming.

    The little India is a litmus test, the paper mannequins tell all.

    What right have they earned? Zero.

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  • Evil, Greedy And Corrupt:

    ” PC Ong: And most important, our country can afford it, we are not Malaysia or Greece, this will not strain our national budget. ”

    Compare this with withholding PSLE certificate because poor student could not pay up school fee.

    Any thief could afford luxury with stolen money.

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  • jim:

    in reply to pc ong

    do you want your maid to carry your guns and backpack

    pap wants you to scratch her back and you in return scratch her back

    it is simple as that

    every job is the country is as important

    you are a soldier doesnt mean you carry a heavier responsiblity

    a rubbish collector is as important as saf ocs

    you have fight in any battle and yet you already claim credit

    your mentality sucks

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  • UniQ:

    PC Ong:
    Ok I admit first I was an officer in the army, so I will defend my fellow officers. It doesn’t mean I am self-serving. Firstly, it is not easy to make it to OCS. It is also not easy to pass out from OCS as the training is very rigorous. After completing OCS, we become platoon commanders, meaning we take responsibility for the lives of our men. We are also involved with our unit CO in the strategic planning of out-field exercises. Our responsibilities are huge. So flying on business class is just a little perk to motivate and reward us. Nothing wrong with this. And most important, our country can afford it, we are not Malaysia or Greece, this will not strain our national budget. And not say we fly 1st class (which is excessive). So please lah, accept the recognition our officers get and don’t be sour grapes.

    So you’re the only Officer here ??

    Consciously, its Taxpayers $$ no matter how difficult their time is, its still mandatory to each citizen, which some has not even sat on an aeroplane !!
    Thus, claiming such privilege has right down disgrace the Ranks and Uniform !!

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  • Hopeless lot:

    PC Ong:
    Ok I admit first I was an officer in the army, so I will defend my fellow officers. It doesn’t mean I am self-serving. Firstly, it is not easy to make it to OCS. It is also not easy to pass out from OCS as the training is very rigorous. After completing OCS, we become platoon commanders, meaning we take responsibility for the lives of our men. We are also involved with our unit CO in the strategic planning of out-field exercises. Our responsibilities are huge. So flying on business class is just a little perk to motivate and reward us. Nothing wrong with this. And most important, our country can afford it, we are not Malaysia or Greece, this will not strain our national budget. And not say we fly 1st class (which is excessive). So please lah, accept the recognition our officers get and don’t be sour grapes.

    Compare yourself to the first gen ministers who work for the country not expected to be given comfort at the expense of the country and citizens. Goh Keng Swee and Lim Kim San would consider fugality in spending naton’s monies. Not like you hopeless lot!

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  • N Chan:

    In my opinion officers regardless of rank should be made to fly economy class with their fellow men when going on overseas military exercises, even if they can afford to pay out of their own pocket for an upgrade. If they can’t bear with the discomfort of flying economy class how can they share with the sufferings of the men they lead? Only they should be allowed to fly on business class if there are no seats in economy class.

    Regarding Sean’s point on officers needing to do sensitive work, as far as I am aware, having did NS in a branch that handles sensitive materials, such materials are not to even be taken out of the office door, much less find its way on board a commercial plane, especially business class where you will find, especially so, more of the type of people interested in these documents – foreign government and intelligence officers/officials and/or corporate sector people with an interest in them. Lest we forget, China uses these corporate folks slush with cash to fly on business/first class as their agents as well.

    Anyway, with regards to PC Ong’s comment, I respect his contribution and service as an SAF officer but nonetheless, I’m sure he is aware that NDU, Guards and Commando folks go through tougher training than most of the SAF’s officer corps. I wonder if all of them from rank private up are allowed to fly business class too,for overseas ops, to motivate them, in view that their training is tougher than most, since he argues that officers have the right to fly business class, in part, because of the tough training they went through.

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  • Judy:

    It doesn’t matter how “long-standing practice” this is, but this is irresponsible way of spending taxpayers’ money. Even general should travel in economy class.

    It looked to me like mindef is trying hard to spend its huge budget so that it can ask for more the following year. Just by cutting down frivolous spending, we can achieve the same degree of protection for the country even when mindef budget is reduced. The money saved can be channelled to better use, like paying for fee-arrears for poor students who otherwise would have their original education certificate withheld.

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  • there becomes BIG PERK:

    //We are also involved with our unit CO in the strategic planning of out-field exercises. Our responsibilities are huge.//

    strategic planning ? so did this strategic planning learned translate into 6.9m or 10m open-leg policy by the white idiots (assuming many of whom are senior officers themselves) ? many from the 6.9m or 10m open-policy did not undergo strategic planning in OCS but they are imported by shiploads passionately known as FTs leh ? was KOCA a of product superb strategic planning also ?

    //So flying on business class is just a little perk to motivate and reward us.//

    little perk here and there becomes BIG PERK ?

    1st little perk – higher salary ?
    2nd little perk – better food and special treatment ?
    3rd little perk – trained to be leaders to indoctrinate the others to take commands from 151th standard kind of higher authority so that this daft mindset can be carried onto their adulthood ?

    //meaning we take responsibility for the lives of our men.//

    aiyoh ? don’t say lar, it brought back some memory to the many ‘abuses’ that went on ? well, you never win in an argument with your senior officers right as they have a positive connotative word for this, it is called to instill discipline ?

    luckily, now it is so much better as a lot of things have changed for the better treatment and welfare of the young ‘soldiers’ ?

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  • never voted pap:

    if they pay own S$m to upgrade the seat, ok.

    if they abuse taxpayer money then cannot lah must account.

    remember. these army regulars do not generate income for Sporeans. they exist to abuse cheap labourers NSF NSR for their ranks and so as good as non existent and Spore still gets along very, very fine.

    in other words, jiak liao bee so this seat upgrade using taxpayer money, if true, cannot lah.

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  • Flabbergasted:

    don’t sweat the small stuff!

    Focus on the bigger scandals!

    just like the PMD protests, why protest against the PMD ban, focus on why are you being reduced to delivering food?

    Focus on why they allow foreign shit with fake papers to steal your plush jobs, getting paid up to S$66k per month while you get S$6/- per delivery!

    why they are so ready to fork out S$10m immediately just to appease simple minded sinkies but not willing to do anything to even re-look at CECA?

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  • Gunner:

    Did he carry machine gun or grenade? Dangerous right?

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  • DLLM:

    @PC Ong:
    November 27, 2019 at 3:46 pm (Quote)
    Ok I admit first I was an officer in the army, ……..

    No wonder you like to carry LHL’s balls.

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  • BCG:

    They may be too fat to fly economy or with C130, or they may have the freaking feel of “entitlement” syndrome with tax payers’ $$$!!!

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  • according to army Lj response:

    according to army Lj in pap mouthpiece states times, the business class ticket is part of the package on chartering plane.

    1st, was that officer on charter plane ticket? how come other civilians in the same plane if the whole plane is on charter?

    this army Lj is perhaps lying?

    2nd, why business class, if truly plane on charter which is 100% in doubt, not given to the most deserving private? after all, privates on NSF waste the most of their youth time at the cheapest oppressive lowest allowance.

    no law says the over paid under performing office must have that free of charge business class seat which we doubt is given on charter basis.

    all in, unless more proof is provided, we declare as citizens of Singapore who have competed NSF NSR that this army Lj is perhaps lying in pap mouthpiece states times.

    yes, lying.

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  • when INDIAN is malay:

    when INSIDE 200m is not within 200m,

    when INDIAN is malay for the purpose of selecting a malay president,

    how to believe pap army when the spokeperson simply says charter plane ticket provides free upgrade to business class?

    as most Singaporeans with a brain are asking, how come plane on charter can have civilians on board?

    worst, how come the upgrade must be abused by higher rank which should in all fairness be given to the lowest paid lowest rank?

    pap mindset at work. S$m measures fake ability. so also uniform. therefore, to keep up facade, the highest rank at the most comfort.

    why not sell back the business class to airline for refund. after all, it is taxpayer money which any refund shall help in reducing need for GST rise from 7% to 9%.

    the current pap neh aks ng hen han must answer. it is not his own money. it is taxpayer money. so must answer, in detail.

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  • George:

    Khaw BW and Tan CJ do not care to justify themselves to Singaporeans, VOTE THEM OUT !

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  • ceca ah nehs and pinoys:

    George:
    Khaw BW and Tan CJ do not care to justify themselves to Singaporeans, VOTE THEM OUT !

    where got pap Lj or pap CB dare to open mouth.

    pap army officer on Air NZ. not SIA. so cannot cover up whether seat is free upgrade or paid for via taxpayer money.

    we used to sell to pap army. we like the business. the profit is like sell one item can rest for 3 years no need to work type. these pap army Ljs all talk like this,Don’t Talk To Me About Money, as if S$billions grow on trees.

    since they ffff care just give them what they want and charge them lah. all happy in the end. they get their balls stroked and we get our S$, all happy. at the expense of 70% sheep taxpayer.

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