Tuesday, July 08, 2008

To Detect One's Mental Instability

Looking at Corporal Dave Teo Ming’s arrest and indictment after his stealing of a SAR-21 rifle out of Mandai Hill Camp, allegedly to kill the girlfriend who broke up with him and several others who had offended him and whom he deemed, unfit to live, as he wanted to take revenge against them.

In light of the recent deaths of the national servicemen in SAF because their health, heart problems were not detected by the normal, usual medical check-ups currently adopted by SAF Medical Corps, I wonder if Dave Teo’s anger problem and possible mental instability could have been detected if a detailed psychological test had been conducted on him.

And because of manpower shortage, standards of mental fitness are lowered to let more enlistees fill up positions which would otherwise have been vacant. If Dave Teo had been given a PES C2 or even PES E status because of his anger problem and mental instability, he could have been posted to a lowly position like clerk, storeman or driver, etc. In other words, a “safe” position where he would not have access to firearms. He would be excused from going for range-shooting, handling weapons.

Of course, such check-ups, when they are conducted with 100% thoroughness would be very costly. Just imagine how much the SAF would have to spend if it were to conduct medical check-ups that are 100% thorough on the would-be enlistees and regular check-ups on those those who are already enlisted.

Then there is the constraint of manpower shortage. It is for the precise reason that Singapore does not have enough manpower, that it has to make National Service mandatory. Because of manpower shortage, standards had to be lowered to accommodate certain NSMen who may not be as fit when measured against past strict fitness standards. Take for example a fighter pilot, in the past, one needs to have perfect eyesight before he is allowed to sign up to be trained as a fighter pilot. Now those who are slightly short-sighted are allowed to become fighter pilots as well.

I wonder how do fighter pilots who have slight myopia and have to wear contact lenses cope with dryness of their eyes in the air. Air is supposed to be drier up there in the sky. I suppose the cockpit has a humidifier to prevent the air inside from becoming too dry for the pilot, making his eyes uncomfortable. Struggling with the discomfort of dry eyes, can be potentially dangerous when a fighter pilot is on a military mission. Imagine having to blink your dry eyes repeatedly to lubricate them when you’re supposed to be concentrating on evading enemy fire and shooting down enemy planes. Potentially disastrous.


Blogger Happysurfer said...

I wonder if there is any test that is 100% accurate. I doubt. A colleague who was medically-declared to be in perfect health collapsed one morning and died of cardiac arrest. Everyone who knew him was shocked because at his age (pushing 50), he was very fit, doing taichi, no medical complaints, etc.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 12:06:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

You're right. Life is so unpredictable. Fit, healthy, strong men with no history of medical problems drop dead like flies. Perhaps someone wrote their names in a Death Note.

The bottomline is: The only certainty in life is uncertainty. We never know when we have to go meet our Maker. It can be tomorrow. Or it can be decades down the road.

I just feel that with tests that are more thorough, incidents of such sudden deaths can be reduced. It's a given that such deaths can never be completely eliminated. Given the tough nature of military training. But some trainees just drop dead during a walk which is supposed to be non-strenuous. Okay. Non-strenuous for most trainees but very strenuous for some trainees with undetected heart problems.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 12:18:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Singapore.Boy said...

The bottomline is: The only certainty in life is uncertainty.

I agree so much In physics, there is the heisenburg uncertainty rule where should velocity be determined, position is lost and vice versa.

If we know the physical health of an individual/perhaps we will lose the emotional aspect of a soldier?

It is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this
century, the silliest is quantum theory. Some say the the only
thing that quantum theory has going for it, in fact, is that it
is unquestionably correct.

- R. Feynman


Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 3:47:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Mockingbird said...

i think it's important for SAF to ascertain both a young man's physical and mental health 1st before determining his PES status and his subsequent posting & vocation(s). They need to know his family background too. An enlistee with a broken and troubled family background is more likely to be emotionally and mentally unstable. Such an enlistee is more likely to snap when he gets tekan by his instructors. Sadomasochistic instructors would more easily push such enlistees over the edge.

Friday, July 11, 2008 at 9:12:00 AM GMT+8  

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