Recognise Gurkhas for commitment to S’pore

I WAS deeply touched by 72-year-old former Staff Sergeant Chandra Gurung’s deep affection and love for Singapore (“Legacy of peace forged by pioneer Gurkhas”; Aug 24).

He said, “If anything bad happens, I am ready to fight. I am ready to go back and die for Singapore”, even though he left Singapore 30 years ago.

Never were truer words spoken by a more loyal friend of Singapore. Compare such loyalty with Singaporeans who choose to migrate rather than serve national service.

The Gurkhas have been a regular fixture of Singapore’s security since 1949.

They guard highly sensitive installations, and served bravely during World War II, the Malayan Emergency and the racial riots in the 1950s and 1960s.

In recent times, they were involved in the United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Timor Leste in 2000. And in 2003, they were part of the Singapore contingent involved in training Iraqi security personnel.

In 2003, I visited Nepal for an International Labour Organisation (ILO) consulting project.

I met two ILO staff, women in their mid-20s, who spoke with a slight Singlish accent.

Both were born in Singapore and completed their O levels at Mount Vernon Secondary.

They and their families were sent back to Nepal once their fathers completed their service contracts.

They spoke of their happy childhood and school memories in Singapore, but did not mention the hardships their families experienced when they resettled in Nepal.

I learnt of their plight only from Singaporean friends based there, who spoke of these families’ re-entry problems. The boys, in particular, experienced greater social problems, and some became delinquents.

My wish for Singapore’s 50th birthday is that our various ministries and agencies will consider how we can recognise the Gurkha Contingent officers for their duty and commitment to Singapore.

Singapore needs more citizens and permanent residents, and the children of the Gurkha officers would be prime candidates.

Some were born here, many have studied in local schools, they know our cultures well, love Singapore and can assimilate easily.

I welcome more Singapore-born Gurkha national servicemen, nurses, social workers, teachers, engineers and hospitality staff.

Their fathers have given us a legacy of peace. Now it is our turn to give their children a legacy of hope.

Charles Quah

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