Singapore’s NSmen often find themselves in the media limelight. Slammed for stinking up trains and and ‘hogging’ MRT seats, it seems our NS men take more flak than what seems fair.
A perennial favourite is of course, how domestic helpers carry their barang barang for them.
But what if relying ons someone else could actually boost the NSmen readiness? The Singapore HALPS team certainly thinks so. This concierge service was first announced a while ago, when they generated a buzz of social activity on Facebook.
And today, they have officially launched for business.
HALPS For NS Men
An abbreviation for “Helping Arms in Laundry, Packaging and Storage”, the startup is a service that cleans, stores and delivers equipment for In-Camp Trainings (ICT).
On a book-out day, the team will be there to collect and tag every piece of equipment. The equipment will be sent for cleaning and stored at a secure location, the warehouse has already been secured.
The next time NSmen require the equipment, such as during mobilisation exercises or ICTs, it’ll be delivered to them at camp so that they don’t have go home first.
As for how the 3rd parties work, the HALPS team was not able to confirm the details.
“But we would like to assure the public that they will not see military equipment hung out to dry on bamboo poles in flats.”
The team shares that at the moment, the service is only available for reservists as most full-time NSmen keep their equipment in camps.
This local startup is spearheaded by 7 mates, but only 6 have been confirmed for the team.
Known by their army nicknames, the team consists of ‘play-maker’ Weiss (who ensures everything run smoothly), Hay in communications, and ‘specky’ Leongish, the management consultant.
There is tech guy Dilbert (who acts like a nerd even though he isn’t one), CamelB in user experience design (the real nerd, even though he doesn’t look the part), and Ryan, the ‘get things done’ operations guy.
“We were trudging home from a high-key exercise with our dirty equipment one night,” Hayden shares.
“And without personal transportation, carrying your sandy, dirty and muddy equipment onto public transportation is not cool. Grab, Uber and taxi drivers kill us softly with their hostility and girls refuse to sit beside those from camps near varsities.”
“What if we could get someone to collect, clean, store our equipment and deliver it to us so that we could book out in style?”
But that someone could not be their mums, and so they decided to become that someone.
When the team first announced the concept, they received quite a bit of positive feedback. Reported by Channel NewsAsia, plenty of people were also indicating interest in their service.
Although they are a business, Hayden shares that they aren’t after profits.
“Our charges are an indication of operating costs, and any savings from group signups will be passed on. We are doing this for intangible reasons.”
With respect to possible loss of equipment, it was also shared that “HALPS is committed to providing a seamless service.”
“There will be proper operational procedures for the handing over of kits between NSmen and the team. The team will put in measures to ensure unforeseen problems are handled properly.”
As expected, the service also saw comments that were less encouraging. These screenshots merely provide a snippet of public opinion.
The response has been mixed, they admitted.
“This concept is a controversy. It’s either you are for it, or you think that this is a bad idea. We have not seen anyone who is sitting on the fence.
But the team believes that they can streamline, even enhance NSmen efficiency.
“Our SAF has evolved over the years, including many of the procedures,” Hayden shares.
“We used to pick up spent bullet cartridges one by one at the firing range, come sun or rain. Nowadays, soldiers shoot in air-conditioned ranges with automated cartridge retrieval. Does this change make them any less as soldiers?”
“If a soldier is out during a mobilisation exercise, it would be more effective if he could proceed to camp directly. Our team can enable his ‘transformation’ from civilian to soldier within minutes.”
As for worries concerning business during wartime, he continues that Singapore’s approach has always been deterrence first, defence second.
“HALPS will not be active during war, but we will continue to be up till the Zero hour. By then, we would have fulfilled our services of delivering the equipment, gearing up and being Operationally Ready.”
The HALPS Way
HALPS might not be the service for everyone, but the potential benefits it can bring to some are undeniable. And while I do understand where the complaints come from, it really boils down to one simple thing.
As one individual stated in the comments, if you don’t like it, “then you don’t sign up lor”.
Featured image credit: Mothership