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National Service In Singapore: How And Why You Should Unsubscribe From Pioneer Magazine

In Singapore, all National Servicemen Full-Time (NSFs) would be put on the subscription systems of Pioneer magazine at the beginning of their enlistment. If you asked your superiors or the administration why this is so, they might furnish you with these postulations:

– This automatic subscription is for the convenience of all servicemen.
– Pioneer magazine allows Singaporean males to keep in touch with developments within the Singapore Armed Force (SAF).
– The cost of your monthly copy of Pioneer is kindly subsidised.
– The Ministry of Defence is consistently gathering feedback to improve the publication.

Unfortunately, they are fallacious arguments. The main question is this: what are the rationales for making subscription to Pioneer magazine compulsory for all within the system (accompanied by the institution of a rigid opt-out mechanism)? Shouldn’t individuals have the prerogative to choose whether they would like to purchase a publication, and not be asked to be removed from the mailing list? What is the logic with the present mechanism? It makes good sense, on many dimensions, to make it a fair opt-in system.

What are the rationales for making subscription to Pioneer magazine compulsory for all within the system (accompanied by the institution of a rigid opt-out mechanism)?

I Don’t Want No Pioneer In My Mailbox

Some might contend that forty cents is quite a negligible sum, and that we’re making a mountain out of a molehill (when we could – I suppose – dedicate more time for actual policy considerations), but I reject these propositions. I would like to choose what ends up in my letterbox (as clichéd as it may sound, it is a matter of principle), and I think going for an opt-in system would generate more impetus for Pioneer to heighten its quality (at the present moment, the editorial team has no incentives to improve its articles or commentaries).

In my opinion, I see no real value in Pioneer magazine (other than, probably, using it to fold makeshift containers for leftover bones or scraps of food, or the occasional promotion of a good cause in Singapore). You know what will intrigue me though? If Pioneer – and its writers – acknowledges that our military is probably far from perfect, and therefore decides to incorporate constructive elements of policy discourse and discussion (here).

How Do You Unsubscribe?

If you are a NSmen: Write in to pnr_cir@starnet.gov.sg (which was given to me through an email correspondence with the MINDEF Feedback Unit) directly. For your convenience, you could use or adapt the following template in your email to the team.

Dear Sir / Madam,

Unsubscribing From Pioneer Magazine

1. I am Mr. XXX (S________), and I am writing in to express my desire to be kindly removed from the automated Pioneer subscription system.

2. I would also like the administration to reconsider the current mechanism of making subscription to Pioneer magazine compulsory for all NSFs at the beginning of their enlistment. It makes good sense, on many dimensions, to make it a fair opt-in system, rather than an opt-out one. Singaporean males would appreciate the liberty to choose whether they would like to receive the magazine, based on the quality of the publications.

3. [You can also choose to – at your own discretion – add in other concerns that you might have with the magazine, so that the relevant representatives would be able to process constructive feedback. For instance, some have environmental considerations (glossy pages wrapped in needless plastic wraps), others might be unconvinced by the repetitive content or uninspiring columns et cetera].

4. Thank you very much for taking time off to read this email.

Yours truly,
XXX (Mr.)

If you are a NSF: You can approach your Unit S1 or Manpower Officers to discontinue your subscription; if applicable, you could also consider using the aforementioned template to explain your reasons or justifications.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


13 thoughts on “National Service In Singapore: How And Why You Should Unsubscribe From Pioneer Magazine

  1. When it comes to objectivity and fairness, I dare say only 1 publication is worse than The Straits Times, and that is Pioneer. It reeks of biasness.

    My friend who was an NSF at MINDEF publications say the journalists at Pioneer damn good life. No need OT and when got overseas news all clamouring for the job, get overseas pay. Leeching off taxpayers’ money.

    Posted by ProudToBeSingaporean | June 1, 2012, 11:09 am
  2. Well well well, the thing about online postings is that anyone can make baseless and irresponsible remarks that constitute personal attack. Now, where is the evidence that the journalists are leeching off the taxpayers’ money?

    Posted by Christopher | June 2, 2012, 9:20 am
    • Ooo… you used the term ‘personal attack’, which really wasn’t my intention. I wasn’t referring to any individual in particular… Really makes me wonder if you’re 1 of the leeches… Hmm…

      Posted by ProudToBeSingaporean | June 3, 2012, 9:53 pm
  3. Hey there,

    I thought your post did not address the “why” one should unsubscribe the magazine. You are simply providing negative feedback on the subscription system which is based on a opt-in system. If you do not like the magazine, please go ahead. However, if you think the magazine is not worth subscribing, then please state the reasons rather than griping about why you were not given the choice upfront on subscription.

    Sometimes, the opt-in approach does provides some benefits as there would be a number of people who would never have the opportunity to come in contact with it. But the flip side is there would be others who would not appreciate it or worse, gripe about not given a choice. Reminds me of the Town Council magazines I get, or together with other government notices I get. The challenge, is the organisation is trying to push its messages to an audience and this is probably the most effective one way. The cost is, meeting up with detractors. But the benefits are, many more who are fine with it. So there you have it. I think the real question is, can it be free instead?

    Your statement “at the present moment, the editorial team has no incentives to improve its articles or commentaries” sounds rather judgemental. Have you seen the changes Pioneer has gone through over the years? Do you not think they are aware of the detractors out there?

    My thoughts.

    Posted by Wei Yew | June 20, 2012, 2:47 pm
    • Straw man. My proposition is simply that it should be an opt-in system, so that individuals have the liberty to choose what they subscribe to, what they pay for, and what comes in their mailboxes. Stating my disagreement to the contents in Pioneer (for instance, reflecting only pro-establishment sentiments and not articulating genuine on-the-ground feedback about dissatisfaction) is – contrary to your opinion – not constructive, because different people would have dissimilar views.

      Why shouldn’t we have the right to choose? I concede that I may have been hasty in my generalisation of the editorial team, but you have not satisfactorily proven that an opt-in system is necessarily better. I can’t see how it can be a good thing if anyone is deprived of the right to choose. You postulating a hypothetical scenario in which subscription is free is feasible, but the status quo states otherwise.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | June 20, 2012, 4:12 pm
  4. Stick man. You have a right to choose. But your choice comes later and not upfront. Perhaps one should be informed of this choice upfront during enlistment so that one would exercise one’s choice and be happy about it. Why only start talking about it after you have completed NS? I wonder if the magazine is free, would we even be discussing about it? But you would probably stick to your principles and say, yes, I want to choose.

    Perhaps, some day, there will be strong enough sentiment to effect such a change. Else, unfortunately the system stays and we exercise our choice later. Perhaps you should conduct a survey on this and gather a petition. Meanwhile. there are other opt-out government-related processes out there, so beware.

    Posted by Wei Yew | June 20, 2012, 5:42 pm
    • Huh? Again you are avoiding the proposition here, and have failed to demonstrate why an opt-in system is more beneficial. Umm why talk about it now? Because I had no prior of knowledge of how to unsubscribe, until I had dropped the feedback unit an email some time ago.

      Making a hypothetical postulation about it being free does not help your case. The fact that other government agencies have compulsory publications changes nothing about our discussion here. The magazine comes at a cost, albeit subsidised. Why it remains compulsory, I cannot comprehend (which is why I speak against it). It’s also about providing more information, for serviceman to make their own decisions. You say do a survey; I say institute an opt-in system, and see how many will subscribe.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | June 20, 2012, 6:59 pm
      • The subscription to the magazine is not compulsory. You have a choice to unsubscribe from it. Your complaint stems from why you are not given the choice upfront. And as you have stated, 40cents is not the issue. I get your points. For detractors of the magazine, I understand why non-willing subscribers want an opt-out system.

        What I am mildly frustrated about, is your perspective. You have taken the detractors’ perspective and a freedom advocate. But do you really understand why the opt-out system exists in our society?

        Its a cost-benefit thing. If its an opt-in system, perhaps, some or rather few will subscribe. Many would never come across the material. But if its opt-out, many will come into contact with the material but few would want to unsubscribe. So if you are a government agency, what will you do? Sure, up the quality of the magazine, do road shows. But then again, what;s the cost-benefit?

        Posted by Wei Yew | June 26, 2012, 5:33 pm
      • Don’t be frustrated. We simply disagree on two points: first, how on to define “compulsion” (I posit that soldiers are not given a choice from the get-go, and information on how to unsubscribe are not made explicit); second, why the validity of the opt-out system. You contend that it is the preferred option for agencies because of the value of the material and the perceived convenience, but I think such a mentality is antiquated. Even if more individuals do “come into contact with the material”, what is the purpose; and if stated, do they correspond with on-the-ground realities? From anecdotal experiences, I’d venture to reckon that the perceptions of the publication are not exactly positive.

        Jin Yao

        Posted by guanyinmiao | June 26, 2012, 6:04 pm
  5. Hey moderator. Could you remove the post before this for me thanks (in case get into trouble). But yea. Just so you know, I feel strongly that you have made a very good point. Thanks.

    Posted by wow | April 9, 2013, 11:22 pm
  6. EMAIL To: pnr_cir@starnet.gov.sg
    Subject: Unsubscribe from Pioneer Magazine

    Dear Sir/Mdm,

    I would like to unsubscribe and stop receiving Pioneer magazine in my mailbox as I prefer reading the online version for environmental reasons.

    Name : XXX
    NRIC : XXX

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

    EMAIL To: armynews@starnet.gov.sg
    Subject: Unsubscribe from ARMYNEWS Magazine

    Dear Sir/Mdm,

    I would like to unsubscribe and stop receiving ARMYNEWS magazine in my mailbox as I prefer reading the online version for environmental reasons.

    Name : XXX
    NRIC : XXX

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

    Posted by Majulan CPL (NS) | February 23, 2014, 9:21 pm


  1. Pingback: How to cancel your Pioneer magazine subscription – ver 2.0 | A L V I N O L O G Y - March 14, 2013

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