Singapore's Most Underrated Elite Force: The Gurkhas

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Fearless, highly skilled and so fit they’ll make you feel like a sack of potatoes. Presenting to you, the Gurkha Contingent aka Singapore’s very own elite force.

In 2015, a driver under the influence literally gatecrashed a high-security international event at Shangri-La hotel. The Gurkha marksman on duty stood his ground in front of the speeding vehicle and shot the driver right through his windscreen.

Apparently Gurkhas handle weapons better than how most mere mortals handle chopsticks. So you must be wondering: What else makes the Gurkhas the auto first choice bodyguards for foreign VIPs like Donald Trump?

We first have to go back in time to a dark part of Singapore’s history...

The date is 21st July 1964. The roads of Singapore are in chaos because of a racial riot that had just broken out. Tensions were so high that Malay and Chinese policemen closed one eye when they saw someone of their own race fighting other races.

Because of this, every patrol team had a Gurkha appointed as a neutral third-party to accompany one Chinese and one Malay policeman.

During a racial event that killed more than 20 people and injured more than 450 others, the Gurkhas helped to keep things in check.

Over the years, Gurkhas have earned so much street cred that even the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew trusted them to guard his house at Oxley Road.

If that’s not the highest stamp of approval, we don’t know what is. But after looking into how hard Gurkha hopefuls hustle during the selection process, it’s really no wonder they’re so well regarded.

Just imagine a bunch of 16 or 17-year-old kiddos climbing a 5km-high hill while carrying 25kg worth of rocks. And they need to do this all under 48 minutes. Meanwhile, here we are complaining about our NAPFA test.

Not only that, candidates also have to memorise Gurkha history and power through rounds of interviews. Out of everyone, only the most elite one percent survive the process to serve Singapore.

For some, becoming a Gurkha is not just for pride, but it’s also a ticket to a better life. Gurkhas earn as much as Singaporean policemen. And those with families can also send their children to local schools.

The dream of becoming a Gurkha is so popular that training centres are popping up left and right in Nepal to prep hopefuls. In 2020, even Nepalese women can be Gurkhas.

Currently, the estimated 2,000 Gurkhas and their families in Singapore are isolated at Mount Vernon Camp. They can’t invite their Singaporean friends over to dinner nor can single and ready to mingle Gurkha men marry Singaporean women.

Gurkhas follow all these strict rules in the name of protecting Singaporeans by remaining an impartial force - and they’ve been doing so ever since they were sent over from India by the British in 1949.

We should feel lucky to have these badass men from Nepal on our side. Other than Britain and India, Singapore is the only country in the world to have a regiment whose motto is “Better to die than to be a coward” protecting us.

Perhaps Singaporeans can learn a thing or two from the Gurkhas’ hardcore discpline and hustle. And once we do, maybe then we’ll complain less about our first world problems.