'Consider carefully', says Mindef in response to new laundry and equipment service for NSmen

'Consider carefully', says Mindef in response to new laundry and equipment service for NSmen
TODAY file photo
Published: 10:47 PM, May 19, 2017

SINGAPORE — All Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen are responsible for the safekeeping and maintenance of their personal equipment, the Defence Ministry (Mindef) has said in response to a new concierge service that aims to handle those chores for operationally-ready National Servicemen.

In a statement on Friday (May 19), the SAF's chief supply officer Colonel Terry Tan said: “It is vital for all SAF servicemen to ensure that they are operationally ready. All SAF servicemen are responsible for the safekeeping and maintenance of their Personal Equipment (PE), and to ensure that they are able to report at the stated time to the stated location with their PE for in-camp training (ICT) or when mobilised.

"Operationally Ready NSmen should consider carefully whether any third-party service provider is consistently able to deliver the agreed services on time, so that their operational readiness is maintained."

Mindef's comments followed a recent report by TODAY on a new service called Halps, short for Helping Arms in ICT's Laundry, Packaging & Storage, that aims to clean, store and even deliver army equipment to the gates of army camps for NSmen due for ICTs.

The service was started by a group of seven operationally-ready NSmen, who came up with the idea while they were having their ICT in May.

Halps’ service will cover three areas: Laundry, where uniforms, and other equipment such as field packs will be collected and cleaned; storage, where items will be stored in a warehouse; and packaging, where servicemen’s items will be replenished, packed, and sent to the gates of the camp at the start of the next ICT.

“The responsibility that our clients entrust to us is a great one," Mr Weiss Ang, one of Halps’ founders, said in response to Col Tan’s comments on their service.

The 31-year-old added: "We also believe that what makes every business model robust is its operational capabilities to react to contingencies. Right now the team is still in the midst of finalising our operational model to determine what is the best way to address the concerns."

Halps said it has seen a spike in public interest since TODAY first reported about their services on May 14. They have since received close to 120 queries, up from 80 almost a week ago. 

Fees are tentatively pegged at around S$360 a year, though a one-off charge may be imposed for those who need the service during a mobilisation exercise. Discounts could be given for those who sign up in large numbers.

Halps is looking to finalise its pricing list by early next week, Mr Ang said on Friday.