Singapore People’s Party (SPP) politician and lawyer, Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss questioned the presence of Gurkhas in relation to PM Lee Hsien Loong’s statement, “We cannot outsource our security and defence to anyone else; we have to defend Singapore ourselves.”
On February 16 (Saturday), Ms. Chong-Aruldoss posted the following in her Facebook profile which garnered a lot of opposing yet informative insight from members of the public. She wrote:
“We cannot outsource our security and defence to anyone else; we have to defend Singapore ourselves.” – LHL
Why does the Singapore Government retain an army of Gurkha soldiers?
Being paid soldiers, aren’t they mercenaries?
Being mercenaries, aren’t they loyal only to their paymasters and have no love of Singaporeans?
What is the role of the Gurkha mercenaries in Singapore National Security?
Can Singaporeans do their job being done by the Gurkha mercenaries? If not, why not?
Whose interests do these hired hands / paid soldiers serve and protect?”
For definition purposes, a Gurkha is an elite soldier from Nepal recruited by different parties like the British Army, Nepalese Army, Indian Army, Ghurkha Contingent Singapore, UN’s peacekeeping force and other war zones around the world.
Ms. Chong-Aruldoss posed valid questions to which many netizens merely bashed the politician for. Some were telling her to study her history while others were commenting on her attention-seeking motives.
Thankfully, a certain Ms. Gurung replied with a more in-depth perspective on the questions being asked. She started by correcting the connotation that Gurkhas are “dogs that are loyal to their masters.” She said that they are human beings like everyone else and will not shoot outside protocol just because their masters tell them to do so.
She added that they do not work merely for monetary purposes and that being a Gurkha is an honour in Nepal. It is a tradition that not everyone can take part in as the requirements and training to become one are extremely difficult. Ms. Gurung explained that the task of the Gurkhas is to protect the country and even train Singaporean officers. “They don’t just protect the elites,” she added.
“As for their necessity, yes, Singapore does need the Gurkhas. Despite how Singapore prides itself for being a multicultural country, racial disparities still exist. This is one of the biggest reasons why the Gurkhas are needed. They act as a neutral force and remain impartial towards the four main races of Singapore. One may say that a racial riot has not happened in years but what if it does? No one can guarantee that it will never happen,” wrote Ms. Gurung.
When it comes to Gurkhas having a love for Singaporeans, she was sure of one thing and that “they definitely love Singapore and their job is to protect it.” Gurkhas arrive in Singapore when they are 18 years old and spend almost three decades working there, meaning they spend a significant portion of their lives in Singapore instead of in their country. Even their children are born and raised in Singapore already.
Read her full comment below:
Two days later, Ms. Chong-Aruldoss made a follow-up post to her recent one that sparked many criticisms. She explained that it was the statement of the Prime Minister that triggered the questions in her mind because amidst “Singaporeans defending Singapore,” the presence of the Gurkhas is retained. She wrote, “If the GC is here to serve our security, then LHL’s statement (that we cannot outsource national security) is an aspiration, not a reality.”
She went on to say that she did not doubt the competency, honour, and service of the Gurkha Contingent but thinks that it may be “outdated.”
“Some commentators are terribly upset with me, saying that I have insulted and dishonoured the sacrifices of the Gurkhas. Actually, I have absolutely no doubt in the competency, honour and service of the GC. But I do think we need to acknowledge that a contingent of citizens is very different from one which completely comprises non-citizens. We do ourselves no favours if we blunt the sharp difference between them.
Tell me it is untrue that the GC is a legacy from our colonial past, set up before Singapore’s Independence in 1965 and before National Service was instituted in 1967.
The GC was left behind by the British and the PAP Government decided to retain them.
Is the GC a sacred cow which no one, especially politicians, should be wondering – or even asking – why our Government still maintains the GC today after 50 years of Independence and 2 maybe 3 generations of National Service?” wrote Ms. Chong-Aruldoss.
She ended her post by asking if someone who “questions why things are the way they are necessarily an enemy of the state, an opponent of good order, an attention seeker, less patriotic, and not a lover of our country?” She added, “Or do we wonder and bother to ask because we love and care for our country, our people and our future?”
The Independent Singapore has reached out to Ms. Gurung for a personal statement regarding her in-depth knowledge of this topic because according to her comment, she is the child of a Gurkha. In fact, her family has a line of Gurkhas, from her great-great-grandfather to her father, although it was only her father who served at the GC. It was based on experience when she wrote, “I dare say a lot of Gurkhas love Singapore more than some Singaporeans.”
The initial post: