Why Chew Shou Zi Said in the Viral Hearing That He Served 2.5 Years of NS Instead of 2 Years


If you were anywhere on the internet the past week, you would have come across the viral clip of TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi at a Congress hearing.

In the clip, Chew was being grilled about his relations to the Chinese Communist Party, to which he responded multiple times by saying, “I’m Singaporean.”

Additionally, Chew mentioned that he had served 2.5 years of national service (NS).

Yes, you read that right — he didn’t just serve two years of NS; he served an additional half a year of it.

Here’s why.

Changes to Duration of Full-Time NS Over the Years 

See, back in the day, when NS was first introduced in 1967, officers had to serve NS full-time for three years and other ranks had to serve for two years.

Fast forward to 1971, the duration of full-time NS was changed to 2.5 years for servicemen holding the rank of Corporal and above. Only in 2005 was the duration of full-time NS reduced from 2.5 years to two years.

For those who aren’t clear on the ranks, all you need to know is that there are only three ranks below the rank of Corporal — Recruit, Private and Lance Corporal. Every other rank you hear of is above the rank of Corporal.

So, back to Chew — why did he have to serve 2.5 years of NS?

Well, let’s do some simple mathematics here, shall we?

Chew was born in 1983, so he did his NS in the early 2000s. That was before 2005 when full-time NS was reduced to two years.

That meant that he probably kena-ed the 2.5 years of service as he held a rank above the rank of Corporal.

Suay… If only he had done his NS a few years later, he wouldn’t have had to do that additional half a year.

Other Ways that Full-Time NS Duration is Reduced

So, we know that full-time NS duration is currently reduced to two years, but why do some of your male friends serve less than two years anyway?

It’s probably because they did pretty well at their Pre-Enlistee Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).

Before you enter NS, you’ll be medically graded based on your Physical Employment Standard (PES) — this is why you always hear the young men throwing around the terms “PES A”, “PES B”, etc.


We wonder what PES Chew Shou Zi was in.

Aside from your PES, your Pre-Enlistee IPPT will also determine the type and duration of the basic training you’ll have to undergo in NS.

Those medically graded PES A or B1 can reduce their two-year full-time NS duration by eight weeks if they attain 61 points or more at their Pre-Enlistee IPPT stations at least two weeks before the Physical Training Phrase (PTP) enlistment.

Think of it like this — if you’re slower, you probably have to OT to finish your work in the office. If you’re sharper and brighter, you can pang gang at 5 pm.

It’s the same for NS. If you’re sufficiently fit, you can reduce your full-time NS duration by eight weeks because you don’t need to attend the eight-week PTP. If you’ve been nua-ing at home and aren’t as fit, too bad; you’ll have to attend the eight-week PTP.


As for those in PES B, C or E, unfortunately, they do not qualify for the eight-week reduction in full-time NS duration.

So, before you chao keng, think lah — your two years in NS might be more “chill”, but you could be serving eight weeks less than your peers.

Perhaps you’ll think of an app that can beat TikTok in those eight weeks.

Does Your PES Make a Difference to the Number of Days of Your ORNS Training Cycle?

If you didn’t already know, even after the two-year full-time NS, NSmen must undergo a ten-year Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) training cycle — more commonly known as “reservist”.

During these ten years, an NSman may be called for up to 40 days’ worth of ORNS activities annually.

However, some have argued that if you’re a PES C or PES E warrior, you can reduce the number of days you’re called up for the ORNS training cycle — is this true?


All we can say is this: stop listening to your friends lah. There’s no clear answer to this.

One thing we have a clear answer to, however, is that Chew Shou Zi is a Singaporean.

You can find out more about Chew’s hearing here: