Yesterday morning after a meeting with friends, I decided to hitch a taxi ride back to office, rather than take the usual LRT.
Upon getting into the taxi, the driver smiled and said that I looked familiar to him. I then asked the driver how long has he been driving a taxi. He replied that he has been a taxi driver for more than 15 years. I quickly looked at his photo pasted in the taxi permit placed at the dashboard, and said that the person in the photo looked like someone I knew when I was working in the Defence Ministry. He smiled and said that the photo in the taxi permit was him, and he too was in Defence Ministry prior to leaving the service. I looked at the driver again, and said that the white scalp cap that he adorns, and the long moustache and unshaven beard, made him looked so different from the photo. And sure enough, the taxi driver was the Regimental Quartermaster Sargeant (RQMS) at the Defence Ministry, whom I had on many occasions met when I was in the ministry in the 80's.
Upon alighting from the taxi and having paid him an extra fare, I began to wonder why has he at the age of 67 still be driving a taxi. And with him being a former RQMS, with a good hands on working experience in managing logistics, he could have been suitably employed in the simple management of logistics in the private sector. And with extra training and exposure in the private sector logistics management, he could be a better employee than those without a previous working experience. He could also be managing his own company by doing simple trading and supplies to the various government departments. After all, his previous employment as the RQMS in the army, is basically that of managing the demand, receipt and distribution of daily supplies and equipments for the various armed forces departments in the ministry.
The experience of a taxi ride with this former soldier has made me to realised that soldiers upon leaving the service should not always end up being a taxi driver or a security guard, but that they can do better, provided that they are counseled and offered the correct courses and training, prior to leaving the military service. And in this regards, PERHEBAT will be the prime agency to ensure that officers and soldiers are offered the correct training and courses to enhance their inherent skills to make them 'marketable' in the private sector, or to be able to fend themselves in managing small businesses.
The armed forces personnels are trained in a number of skills and expertise, to be able to operate, maintain and repair machineries, electronics, avionics and many other assorted equipments. Besides these skills, even sea divers from the navy and special forces units can be usefully employed in the oil and gas industry, for instance. And those who are welders, and with enhanced training and certification, will be the most sought people in the oil and gas industry, that fetches them a fat salary.
There are today many such experienced personnel in the armed forces with the aforesaid skills and expertise. But where are they upon leaving the military service? This is an obvious waste of talented, skilled and highly disciplined armed forces personnel that can be usefully employed into the various private industries upon them leaving the military service. But why isn't the armed forces making a serious effort to harness these skills and expertise, and help channel them into the correct post military employment? In this regards, PERHEBAT and LTAT in particular, need to do some serious soul searching, to ensure that these armed forces personnel upon leaving are better employed and successful in their post military employment.
Taxi drivers and security guards should be made the last of all employable jobs for armed forces personnel upon leaving the service. And this will be the primary challenge for the armed forces to ensure that this does not happen any more. Will the armed forces take up this challenge?
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION