An army recruit who enlisted in April 2004, Mr Wu Weiquan was two months into national service (NS) when he heard the good news about the reduced duration.
Because he was already serving, he received a two-month deduction instead of the full six months.
But it was enough to let him finish NS as a signals third sergeant in August 2006 - just in time to start his studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS) that very month.
He even managed to attend the freshman orientation camp in July, as he had enough leave to be away from the army during that time.
"Without the reduction, I would have had to wait nearly a year before entering university. I suppose I could have taken a part-time job while waiting, but it wouldn't have been ideal," says Mr Wu, now 32, a video-game programmer.
But time was far from the biggest loss he would have suffered had he not entered university in 2006.
In his first month on campus, he took part in an introductory course on fencing, where he met a fourth-year life sciences student who eventually became his wife.
"If I had started my studies a year later, she would have graduated by then and I never would have met her," he says.
They started dating a month after they met, and got married in 2013. Now 31, Ms Constance Ho is a human resources manager.
"Looking back, everything fell into place and lined up very smoothly. Not only was the reduction a plus for my studies and my career, but also, it brought happiness into my life," says Mr Wu.
Chong Zi Liang