A "current NJC student" asks:
"if army were so bad as you have said, why would scholars willingly take up the scholarship?"
Ah. An opportunity to analyse the minds of SAF scholars. Where to begin, I wonder?
Here are some possibilities:
1) Prestige - scholarships are prestigious and SAFOS is one of the three most prestigious scholarships in Singapore
2) Insulation - Scholars, especially SAFOS ones, are insulated from all the low-level crap that the scum of the earth suffer, because of their rank (as officers) and exalted status as scholars. They are not subjected to the dehumanising treatment that mere scum of the earth (ie enlistees) go through. Instead of getting screwed, they get to screw other people (if they choose). Even BMT, the putative great leveller, is different from them, for all, or almost all potential SAF scholars enter what are known as "Scholar Companies", or even better, companies with White Horses in them.
As someone put it: "slaves and royalty stay in the same palace but lead vastly different lives"
3) Obliviousness - Some recipients of (local) study awards I spoke to in my tenure as a slave told me they regretted signing on. Maybe some - those who get scholarships before enslavement - don't know what they're getting into.
Friends of mine tell me of those who got SAF scholarships, some on the spur of the moment, who later regretted. For example, one is quoted as saying: "I really wanted to go overseas, didn't think I'd suffer so much afterwards"; to many Singaporean JC students, an overseas education is the Holy Grail, so in their quest to get it, they neglect the fact that on their return they'll have a 6 year bond to serve. Of the above, I am told that: "now all he wants to do is enjoy himself and die young"
4) Nature of the job - As a friend puts it: "these scholars want to look for something that needs no effort, pays a lot, and gives them the ability to fuck people around. what else do u need?" He adds: "usually cos they are enslaved, they are brainwashed, and usually stay till they die, mentally or physically"
Since it's highly unlikely that Singapore will ever go to war, you get to slack and won't actually have to engage in real combat. And since you get promoted quickly to command-level posts, you don't actually have to go outfield (and experience similar messy and gritty activities) that often.
5) Affection/suitability for Army Life - Strange but true. Some people actually like army life. But then, some people like BDSM also, so. *insert latin phrase that's not good to use too often, or it loses its impact*
Some people are also better suited for the job than others, so they are inclined to taking it.
6) Future job prospects - Apparently some scholars get to become Colonels at age 30. You can't beat the job security either - even incompetent regulars don't get fired, since there's next to no way to assess their job performance, let alone scholars. Also, the SAF has a great retirement plan. Even after retiring, you'll want for naught - they'll find a way to parachute you into a suitably comfortable, important and well-paying job (even if you're not suited for it). See: Our Scholars - Success Stories
7) They fit one or more of the other criteria - As I said, there are 4 types of people who sign on. Some scholars fit into one or more of those categories, namely: being sadistic, being greedy for the money (you get a $750,000 gratuity when you retire) and being incapable of finding jobs outside.
8) Brainwashing - Some are brainwashed. A friend tells of a time when there was a recruitment talk in OCS (Officer Cadet School) and "the whole LT signed on" because of brainwashing.
Some people are taken in by the rhetoric about Duty, Honour and Country, and the old lie - Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori - 'It is sweet and proper to die for one's country' (Horace, Odes, iii ii 13)
9) Since you have to be a slave anyway, some figure that they might as well get a free education, a well charted-out career path, relatively good pay (especially for the 2 years of compulsory slavery), an effective bond time of 4 years (formerly 3 1/2 years) and "respect". Oh, and some girls like men in uniform (I know at least two with an army uniform fetish)
As for why non-scholars sign on (or get Local Study Awards or the like):
10) Getting to be an officer - Some people sign on because that's the only way they'll get to be officers. I know this guy who, while a normal slave, was a PTI (Physical Training Instructor - think your PE teacher on steroids and with a bad attitude), but became an officer after signing on. From a cursory study of him, I conclude that he was sore at not becoming an officer and signed on to attain that status.
[Ed: The above has been modified since its original posting.]