SAF, fix your IPPT system for those above 35

I’m sending this in as a letter to the press. As far as I can tell, I have not leaked any military secrets.

The Singapore Armed Forces often touts itself as a technologically advanced army, and it is in many ways. However, there is a pressing need to improve some basic IT services that affect many operationally ready servicemen before it can boast of being a “3G army”.

NSmen who are above 35 have to take a health screening test every year at an army medical center before they can be allowed to take the annual Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT). For the past two work years since I started taking the screening test, I have encountered a baffling issue that highlights the poor integration of data within the SAF.

Since 2011, I have attended my scheduled health screenings in September. However, the official personnel records are not updated with the screening test results even after five months. I have to call the NS hotline repeatedly in order to find out if my records have been updated.

To make matters worse, the SAF recently shortened the IPPT window to nine months each year instead of twelve months.

With over half of the window period made invalid by the lack of an updated health record, the NSman is then put under further pressure to clear his IPPT test in a compressed time frame.

This issue is not isolated, as I have checked with fellow NSmen and they have encountered the same scenario. With no systematic notification of the health screening test result, some NSmen actually miss their IPPT window and then have to go through the hassle of explaining to their respective unit why they should not be penalized.

It is clear that till today, there is no proper integration between the IPPT registration system and the health screening database. We will receive regular SMS alerts from MINDEF telling us to clear our IPPT even when the health screening results aren’t updated.

And after so many years, the NS portal website remains a messy “rojak” of critical services and marketing fluff which makes it difficult to navigate.

With the massive amount of the national budget that is poured into defence spending, the SAF needs to relook some fundamentals of how IT is implemented to drive better efficiency.

We NSmen sacrifice our work and family time to do our national duty and such broken IT services only lead to unnecessary frustration and inconvenience.

Ian Tan Yong Hoe

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