9 Dec 2011 FRI
By: Ah Peng (Lion City, Asia)
Respect Must Be Earned. Not Through Self-promoting
I read ST Saturday’s news article report printed on the Straits Times about the new army tagline and really got confused.
I am a citizen and had served my National Service for my country. Over the years we have seen quite a few tagline changes in the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces), including the Army, specialist arms, etc. However, this is one campaign (of tagline change) that I feel so strongly that I should express my two-cents worth of comment. I am sure that I am not alone in having such a thought.
Throughout my education and life experience, I always have the notion that Respect is earned and not through self-promotion or proclaimed. Unless time has changed in which even a national institution needs marketing slogan to feel good about itself and, hope to use such a self-promoting tagline to rally better public support. If truly this magic word “Respected” is that powerful, then today we would find many prestigious institutions using it in their tagline, including Harvard University, Cambridge University, Singapore Post, etc. and the US Army…. it will be a long list. People would respect the US Navy SEALS, the Marines, British Royal Marine Commandos and even the military status of the ancient Ottoman Empire but don’t think these institutions go about self-proclaimed of “Respected”. Their actions prove it all.
There are many ways to project the SAF, through improved systems, training, public media reports, involvement with the society, overseas participation in peace keeping missions, etc. Yet, there is no need to be overly obsess about the word “Respected”. It is definitely NOT a magic word that could instantly turn the SAF into a “more respectable” force and national institution. We Singaporeans, are fully aware of the significant of the existence of SAF and the key role it plays in our nation building. Over the years SAF has transformed into a respectable and a serious force to be reckoned with and well-regarded in the region. So, nobody is saying the SAF is not quite respectable and need to promote it through marketing tagline. Worse still, that it uses such a tagline to solve a problem that never existed.
The reason seems to be that, “Update is part of new campaign focusing on troops involved in recent ops”. The general (Army Chief Ravinder Singh) said that the new tagline is “reflective of the army’s vision to be ready in peace… and decisive in war”. I fully agreed with what the general had said. But, why not just keeping the Ready & Decisive for the new tagline? Must we always need to have a three-wording tagline to be sophisticated? By adding the word “Respected” to its tagline, the SAF does not gain any mileage indeed. Anyone who think that by adding such a magic word (?) in logo or tagline would instill greater sense of motivation, pride, honour into its membership and the population must be very simple-minded. Such tagline (of overly self-promoting nature) used for some consumer products may gain for themselves short-term awareness but definitely it won’t work for a serious institution.
I remember someone said this before, “A military unit has to go through blood and thunder to be respected… and honoured”. The ultimate mission of SAF is to guard and protect our nation and its people. Respect will always be there, in the heart of all its citizens and even the international community, if the SAF continues to perform its roles as we all know, consistently and remains ready.