SINGAPORE - Major (NS) Su Caizheng is an operationally-ready national serviceman who commands the 32 Rescue Unit, which goes into action during national emergencies like when a building collapses.
On Thursday (May 2), the 35-year-old took up a different challenge as an NSman from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) appointed as an honorary aide-de-camp (HADC) to the President.
"For my current national service appointment, we respond to emergencies, but HADCs are the faces of Singapore, especially when there are foreign delegates," said Maj (NS) Su, who is a regional health and safety manager for American Express International.
He was among 102 HADCs appointed by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Thursday, with 21 of them being new to the role.
They support the full-time aides-de-camp in organising and assisting at official events and functions, such as the Istana Open House when people can enter the grounds and visits by foreign dignitaries.
Drawn from the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, it is a role they assume on top of their professional work. They serve at least 60 hours a year in their first two years.
From the third year on, they serve a minimum of 48 hours each year.
At an appreciation dinner following the appointment ceremony, President Halimah thanked the HADCs for their service.
With the Istana marking its 150th anniversary this year, she said the corps can expect to be even busier.
"This strong spirit of volunteerism and camaraderie was especially evident this past year, as the Corps was involved in over 100 events," she added.
Major Muhammad Izzuddin Amirruddin, 31, another newcomer, said it was a privilege to be involved in President Halimah's community engagement efforts.
"The basic requirement of any HADC is to think quickly on your feet, and being trained as an officer gave me this plus the required critical thinking," he said.
The operations officer from the 9th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, is one of the few outside of the Commando formation to have completed the Ranger Course, regarded as the toughest small unit leadership course in the SAF.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (Volunteer) Paul Seah, who has served 14 years with the Volunteer Special Constabulary, said his interest in his new role was sparked after interacting with HADCs at an Istana Open House two years ago.
"They really impressed me with their professionalism, meticulousness, keen eye for detail, and I dare say they are the ambassadors of their respective services. This is something I hope to be able to learn from the more experienced HADCs," said the 34-year-old, who is subject head for student management at Maris Stella High School.
Correction note: The article has been edited for accuracy.