A Captain of Passion and Purpose

Scholarship Guide SAF Scholar MAJ Jaime Liew
MAJ Jaime Liew

When it came to deciding a career path for herself, MAJ Jaime Liew wanted a job that would challenge her intellectually and engage her emotionally. When she attended a scholarship tea session after her A-Level examination, she was attracted by what the Singapore Arm Forces (SAF) could offer.

Share with us the story behind your decision to join the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

When I went for a tea session organised for the “SAF Merit Scholarship for Women”, a female naval officer said to us, “This is my ship. There are eighty people on it, and I trust every single one of them with my life.” I was sold, enough to spend the next four months of my life convincing my family and friends that I was serious about this career.

So has this career been truly challenging and fulfilling at the same time?

How can it not be? Every single day brings fresh challenges, most of them terrifically frustrating to deal with, and every one of them requires great depth of character and resourcefulness to surmount. Your reward comes when your crew looks up and smiles at you in a demonstration of camaraderie. Your best moment is usually when they come to you with more problems, because that means you’ve earned their trust.

“Your reward comes when your crew looks up and smiles at you in a demonstration of camaraderie.”

Share with us more about your appointments in the SAF.

Previously, I was a watch-keeper, leading the ship’s bridge team to ensure that our patrols at sea were safe and effective. Every hour that we spent out there was a statement that in our waters, we are sovereign.

Today, my role in the Joint Manpower Department entails a dramatically different set of challenges. My team and I work to ensure that the SAF of today is well-engaged and productive, and that the SAF of tomorrow will be well-resourced and ready to take on future operations.

The mere management of tens of thousands of people (including full-time National Servicemen) and catering to their vastly diverse needs is a staggering responsibility. It requires a whole new level of commitment, expertise, and empathy. Ultimately I hope to do what I can to embody and promote the right values in the SAF. This means to promote character over competency and focus on protecting fellow Singaporeans rather than self-vested interests.

What are some career opportunities scholars can look forward to in the SAF?

The SAF is one of those rare organisations that exposes its people to the mechanisms of policymaking at a relatively junior level.

Your advice to students considering a scholarship with the SAF?

There will always be doubts, regardless of what path you eventually decide to take. The question to ask yourself is, will you regret it if you don’t try? If the answer is yes, then give it a chance.

2011 SAF Merit Scholarship Recipient
Staff Officer, Joint Manpower Department