Asia Singapore Navy celebrates its first diver of African descent, but others question if...

Navy celebrates its first diver of African descent, but others question if some are still unfairly discriminated in the Armed Forces

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On March 16, Law Society President Adrian Tan spoke about Hartley Muze, who he referred to as “a son of Singapore”. In his post, Tan pointed out that Muze “studied at Jurongville Secondary School. His basketball coach spoke Chinese, so Hartley had to learn it too. He speaks it, together with Swahili and English (in an unmistakable Singaporean accent). The Singlish phrases he uses most often are “Can lah, can” and “Okay lah.” His favourite foods are chicken rice and char kway teow. Like other Singaporean boys, Hartley enlisted in National Service.”

The Pioneer Magazine, the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) magazine, first featured Muze on February 12 in their Facebook. Muze, who graduated last month, is the first national serviceman of African descent to become a Singaporean frogman.

SG Muze, 25, was all set to join Singapore`s Naval Diving Unit, Pioneer magazine reported. He is the second of four children, and the first to do national service in Singapore. 3SG Muze, who hated running and swimming, said he found the training tough but enjoyable.

The magazine said: “He hated swimming and running, yet 3SG Hartley Muze is on his way to becoming the first African-Singaporean frogman in the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Naval Diving Unit.”



The post has over 500 shares, 2,800 likes and about 200 comments on Facebook. Most people who responded to the Pioneer magazine’s post, congratulated Muze for his accomplishment. Some however questioned if some Singaporeans are still excluded from certain vocations in the SAF because of their race.

Tan’s sharing of Muze’s accomplishments also drew several comments. One among the commenters is Dr Paul Tambyah. Tambyah said: “Would be nice if all Singaporeans had the same opportunities.” With his comment, he linked a Straits Times (ST) article titled ‘Malays deployed in the SAF as sailors: Ng Eng Hen’.

The 2015 article published by ST quoted the Defence Minister as saying that a person is deployed in a sensitive unit in the Singapore Armed Forces based on his ability and beliefs to ensure that he is not a security risk, not on his race. He added that the SAF has started to deploy Malay servicemen onboard ships as sailors who will go out to sea.

Responding to a question on a perceived bias against Malays in the SAF and why they have been excluded from the Navy until now, Dr Ng said it was a “practical issue” of having halal-certified kitchens onboard ships. “(This is) because in a confined space, it is hard to have a halal kitchen. If you spend months out at sea, it is difficult.”

But Dr Ng said provisions have been made for Malay Muslims who are willing to serve. “So we made and found some accommodation and started to have Malays in the navy as well, if the person is willing.”

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