Ex-national runner turned naval officer one of eight female commissioned officers at parade

Lieutenant Teh May Yong, 25, was commissioned as a naval officer on March 17, 2018.
Lieutenant Teh May Yong, 25, was commissioned as a naval officer on March 17, 2018.PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - A steady diet of war movies and television shows as a child sparked an interest in sea, ships and soldiering for Lieutenant Teh May Yong, 25, who gave in to the siren call of the sea by signing on as a naval officer with the Singapore Navy.

"It's an adventure," said LT Teh. "I don't know how to explain it, but I like everything about the navy.

"It's something like dancing - some people like ballet, some like hip-hop - and you cannot explain it, you just like something more than another," she added.

LT Teh was one of eight female graduates commissioned as full officers on Saturday (March 17) at the Safti Military Institute in Upper Jurong Road.

The former national runner from the Singapore Sports School traded her running shoes for polished black boots when she signed on as a regular with the navy last April.

She was also recognised as the best in physical training among 12 cadets from the navy, which she credits to her background as a national athlete.

Even though she had harboured ambitions of being a naval officer since she was in primary school, she also enjoyed competitive sports. Her interest in running led her to take up a podiatry degree from the La Trobe University in Australia.

However, she decided to take the plunge and join the navy full time during a medical internship.

"I liked podiatry, but I had a greater passion for the navy. I didn't see myself in podiatry long term, but I do want to retire as a naval officer," said LT Teh, who is a middle child with two brothers.

Coincidentally, her younger brother was posted to the navy for his national service, and served on board the RSS Endurance - which LT Teh was later posted to for a training stint.

"When I first got on the ship, everybody already knew who I was," said LT Teh, laughing.

The commissioning parade on Saturday marked the completion of 38 weeks of rigorous training at the Officer Cadet School (OCS).

The 160 graduands comprised 12 cadets from the navy and 48 from the air force, with the rest from the army.

Addressing the cadets on Saturday, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, who was the reviewing officer for the parade, said that they have to be aware of new and evolving threats, even in times of relative peace.

"Going forward, Singapore and the Singapore Armed Forces will need to continue to have forward-looking leaders in order to anticipate challenges and safeguard Singapore from diverse and complex threats," said Dr Yaacob.

He also welcomed three foreign officers - one each from the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the New Zealand Defence Force - on the parade ground.

"We have had more than 200 foreign officers graduate from OCS over the past 40 years," said Dr Yaacob. This reflects the longstanding defence relations and cooperation between Singapore and these countries, he added.

"As the world becomes more interconnected and interdependent, these bonds help us tackle the complex threats that affect many countries," he said.