Over 700 receive Mindef/SAF National Day awards

Mr Chin Boon Cheng, chief cameraman with the Singapore Armed Forces Film Unit, has recorded deployments including disaster relief efforts in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. Lieutenant-Colonel Elizabeth Soh, branch head from General Staff (Training)
Mr Chin Boon Cheng, chief cameraman with the Singapore Armed Forces Film Unit, has recorded deployments including disaster relief efforts in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. PHOTO: MINDEF
Mr Chin Boon Cheng, chief cameraman with the Singapore Armed Forces Film Unit, has recorded deployments including disaster relief efforts in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. Lieutenant-Colonel Elizabeth Soh, branch head from General Staff (Training)
Lieutenant-Colonel Elizabeth Soh, branch head from General Staff (Training), is a Commendation Medal recipient.PHOTO: MINDEF

From behind his lens, chief cameraman with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Film Unit, Mr Chin Boon Cheng, has recorded deployments including disaster relief efforts in Indonesia following the deadly tsunami in 2004.

He was also there to witness multinational counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden and SAF peacekeeping operations in Timor Leste in the early 2000s.

Last Friday, Mr Chin was among those recognised for their "outstanding performances and dedication to duty and service" at the annual Ministry of Defence/ SAF National Day Awards Investiture.

He received the Long Service Medal from Permanent Secretary (Defence) Chan Yeng Kit in a Ministry of Defence ceremony.

A former regular with the elite commando formation, the 48-year-old first applied for the job after his physical employment standard was downgraded following a torn ligament injury.

He recalled that, during an interview for the job 23 years ago, he could not answer many questions on how to operate a camera but won over the interviewers from the film unit with his willing-ness to learn.

"I knew nuts about filming. Back then, I was quite young, and I got a bit frustrated (with the questions), so I stood up and told them, look, I only know a few things about the camera," he said, such as how to use the on/off switch and the record button.

"(But) as long as you give me an opportunity, I will do my best and learn," he added.

A total of 115 Commendation Medals, 142 Efficiency Medals and 504 Long Service Medals were awarded at the investiture.

Thirteen people received both the Commendation/Efficiency Medal and the Long Service Medal.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also gave out some of the awards.

Commendation Medal recipient, Lieutenant-Colonel Elizabeth Soh, 40, said her most fulfilling time in her 20-year service in the army was when she was commanding officer of the 3rd SAF Transport Battalion from 2014 to 2016.

Among other things, her contributions included helping in the effort to supply the entire armed forces with the current pixelised uniform, which was first introduced in 2012. The effort took her team about five years.

When she was commanding officer, Lt-Col Soh found it meaningful to lead men and help them find purpose in what they do, including national servicemen.

"As NSmen (operationally ready national servicemen), it's not easy to have to manage your career and return to serve in-camp training (ICT), so it's very rejuvenating for me to engage them because I know they are sacrificing to make time to serve ICT," added Lt-Col Soh, who is currently branch head from General Staff (Training).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2019, with the headline 'Over 700 receive Mindef/SAF National Day awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe