Friday, April 22, 2005

All World Leaders Should Read This

10 Dos for Presidents and Heads of State who wish to come to Singapore on official state visits. (So as to make life easier for us, the poor sods who have to mount the welcome honour guard.)

1. Please give ample notice of your arrival. By protocol, a Head of State or President will have a 72-man Guard-of-Honour to welcome him. So, for 72 men, not including the parade markers, Colour Ensigns and Colour Escorts, to get their drill movements to coordinate well is not easy at all. So rehearsals are needed. So we need TIME.

2. Arrive at the time you indicated. Reasoning is very simple, arrive earlier than the time you said you'll arrive, and the Aide-De-Camp will be scrambling to get the parade formed up the moment the advance warning is relayed by the CISCO duty personnel at the Istana main gate. Arrive late, and you'll have about 80 men standing in the hot sun waiting for your grand arrival. And don't forget, protocol also dictates that the counterpart will receive the guest. So if a President visits, our very own Uncle S.R Nathan will be the one who receives him. It is not nice to make an old man wait in the sun for you. No matter how dua bai you are, have some courtesy and punctuality.

3. Come with a small entourage. The Istana is landscaped like a park, not some multi-storey carpark. There's no need to come with a procession of more than 10 vehicles, with your Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister, father, mother, wife, mistress, son, daughter, uncles, aunts or cousins tagging along. And really, there's no need for 5 vehicles to be filled with just personal bodyguards. Singapore's a very safe place, no one will actually attempt to assassinate you here. And if you're that dua bai to the extent that someone might actually assassinate you, Uncle Nathan will be the one visiting you, not the other way round.

4. Adopt a National Anthem that's short and sweet. Before visiting Singapore, kindly persuade your Parliament/Congress/Senate or whatever legislative council in your country to change the National Anthem to a piece that's less than 1 minute long. As protocol dictates(again), as the Presidential Salute is presented to the visiting President, the accompanying music will be of the guest country's National Anthem, followed by the host country's National Anthem. Readers out there, you have no idea how tiring it is to stand absolutely still in the Present Arms, or Hormat Senjata, for 4 mins (South African National Anthem, Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika), followed by another 1.5 mins as Majulah Singapura plays. Arms go numb, rifles start to wobble, and bayonets begin to rattle. How unprofessional-sounding.

5. Make your way to the dais fast. When you arrive, the Guard-of-Honour would probably have been waiting for more than 20 minutes in the sun. Refrain from making small talk with Uncle Nathan after you step out of the car. Just make your way to the dais for the Presidential Salute.

6. Make the inspection of the Guard-of-Honour a quick one. For a 72-man GOH, only the front rank (out of 3 ranks) will be inspected. That means a total of 24 men to walk past, plus the paying of compliments to the Regimental and State Colours. For that, it's only a quick salute (for military personnel) as you walk past the Colours, or a acknowledging nod (non-military personnel) as you shuffle past. And for goodness's sake, NEVER EVER stop to ask a guardsman questions, since you won't remember what you asked of him 5 minutes later. You know that, WE know that.

7. Don't act blur. After the inspection's completed allow yourself to be ushered back to the dais. After that, whatever the Parade Commander asks of you, just say yes. If you can't even say that in English, just nod. Please do not stand there and act blur. Logically the Parade Commander's asking for permission to carry on with the ceremony, and not, "how's the wife and kids?"

8. Just get on with it. After you give permission for the parade to proceed and the salute's presented, just acknowledge and allow yourself to be ushered away into the Istana main building. Please do not launch into a speech there and then thanking all and sundry about how honoured you are to be in Singapore and how impressed by the Guard-of-Honour that you just inspected blah blah blah (this happens, really). You ought to be anyway.

9. Disappear, fast. After you enter the foyer of the Istana main building and the 2 sentries present arms, kindly move quickly into the building and just disappear from our sight. As long as you're within view and earshot of the Guard-of-Honour, the parade cannot be dismissed. At that point of time, all we want is to fall out and get a well-deserved break. So just make yourself scarce.

10. Don't even visit at all. Enough said.

20 comments:

Edwin said...

muahahahaha, the last one is *evil*

The Panopticon said...

haha i was doing marshalling duty when the prince of brunei came down to my camp, and it was 12pm.....3 hours in the hot sun monkeying around in the commset, making weird theories of chameleons and aeroplanes...was damn shiong but quite fun also

lun said...

oh he came to ur camp when he visited earlier this year? he freaking took his time to inspect the honour guard man.

Agagooga said...

Why complain?

Isn't it an honour and a privilege to be able to represent Singapore and greet a Guest of Honour? Heh.

lun said...

Heh. It IS an honour to represent the State, but well, sometimes we wish the behind-the-scenes work could be made easier for us. 4 parades next week, 3 on the same day. woohoo.

Lance said...

how come teo chee hean and the prince of brunei look like they're made of wax in that photo? heh.

and MPs have a badge? the one those fellas in the GOH are wearing...

lun said...

most of the guys in my company have the badge. its the Silent Precision Drill Squad badge, or SPDS for short. not all MPs have it, but those who have it are all MPs. its a badge exclusive to us, like the MP No 3. we take much pride in that fact :)

kureshii said...

LOL...don't visit at all, or announce your visit 1 hour before you land here ;-)

I'm thanking my lucky stars I'm not an MP PC.

4 minutes of hormat is shitty, esp since the drill rifles are m16s and not ar15s (the ones without the forward assist button that always presses on the base of the index finger). In BMT my coy had the old AR15s, and I always lamented how they seemed to be lacking that one feature all the other m16s have. Not anymore.

kureshii said...

Oh yeah, the SPDS badge. kept seeming warrants wearing it but didn't know what it is (besides airborne, JCC and a couple other badges, i can't identify the rest). is it the one with the S-lookalike thingum on the front (please tell me what it is called)?

kureshii said...

lun, i really should meet up with you one of these days. so many things to ask.

incidentally, you happen to know any of these people? ng siu po, lin zhenqiang. young 2LTs from my cohort posted to SAFPu.

lun said...

ah yes that's the SPDS badge. the design's a WW2-era Mark IV rifle with a S-shaped twirl around it and a silver 5-pointed star in the centre.

and actually, we don't use drill arms for parades. we use our personal arms which are AR-15s, with firing pins removed, magazine bound tight with a rubber band around the hammer, and the white ceremonial sling.

2LT S P Ng's in my coy as a matter of fact, but he's PC2, whereas im in PL 1. and really, its not that bad being an MP officer, after all, u mount parades with the sword, no AR-15 for u ;)

Lance said...

while we're on the subject of didja-know-so-and-so...did you know a 2LT Giri? he ought to have just ORDed recently. he said he's in the subunit which does the changing of the guards thing at the istana.

kureshii said...

oh, so he's in your coy...he was terribly disappointed at not being parade commander for my cohort's parade...

holding the sword on parade isn't as fun as it's cracked up to be. you have to hold it with your fingers against the handle guard (what the hell do you call it? i'm terribly ill-informed for an officer), and if you do it too long you get cramps in your fingers.

lun said...

lance: i do know him. he's not exactly in the sub-coy that does the changing of the guards. for officers, they actually rotate among themselves every month. if i'm not wrong he was the TCO of the School of Provost. the guardsmen all come from my coy though.

kureshii: ah u may be surprised to know this, but i'm proficient in sword drill. i was a former officer in the NPCC, and i was taught sword drill as part of the "officer conversion course". hunus pedang and sarongkan pedang i learned it all. well that handle guard thingy is called the "hilt", and i understand how it feels to hold the sword for long haha. fingers turn bloody numb.

Agagooga said...

Better than a rifle

MaKan GuRu said...

if you think you have it bad, imagine the MFA people. i have a friend who is in the MFA protocol division, and she has told me that some dignitary visit are just stupid. Like she had to arrange for a dinner to be catered where the meal had to have no shell fish, no red meat, no eggs and low in carbs. she was like cursing and swearing man!

Lance said...

hmm...standing under the sun for an hour, in an uncomfortably stiff uniform carrying a rifle vs sitting down in airconditioning making a few phone calls...

you're right, the MFA people have it worse!

lun said...

lance: the guys in the istana platoon have it worse. every detail's for 2 hours, standing absolutely still. thank god i'm not in that platoon.

Edwin said...

yeah, still, but some of them still does some "not-so-obivious" swaying about, but nevertheless still noticable .. :D

lun said...

edwin: haha they can move lah, but tactically. my friend told me he looks at girls at the time on duty. they dun just move their eyes, they actually turn their whole head to look, but VERY slowly.

and while we're on the topic of istana gurads, i've got an announcement to make. THERE IS CHANGING OF GUARDS THIS SUNDAY AT 6PM! PLEASE COME AND WATCH!