For MAJ Jamin Lau, the choice of a military career took root early. In his younger days, his strong sense of adventure led him to be part of the National Cadet Corps (land) in secondary school and the Outdoor Activities Club in junior college. He decided a career in the military would fulfill his love for adventure and at the same time, provide him the opportunity to do something meaningful for Singapore. He signed on with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) during his National Service (NS) and was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship to pursue his degree in Economics and Masters in Management and Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
His adventure in the RSN began shortly after he returned from his studies. He was a trainee officer back in 2011 when his ship received a “Mayday” call out at sea. When his ship arrived at the stipulated location, they realised that the distressed vessel had already sunk as a result of a collision with a larger vessel. “We quickly coordinated the rescue efforts for these sailors – no lives were lost that day. I am heartened to know that the efforts of my crew have made a difference to the well-being of these fellow seafarers,” he shares.
MAJ Lau went on to serve on board several different ships such as RSS Tenacious (Formidable class frigate), RSS Victory (Victory class missile corvette) and most recently, as Executive Officer of RSS Valiant (Victory class missile corvette). As the second-in-command of the ship, he saw himself as the link between the Commanding Officer (CO) and the crew, helping to communicate the CO’s vision and intentions clearly to them. In this role, he made the deliberate effort to motivate the crew, raise their morale, and enable them to feel a sense of accomplishment. “It is a heavy responsibility, which also brought about an immense source of satisfaction,” he says.
Charting The Future
Today, MAJ Lau is a Force Transformation Officer in the Joint Plans and Transformation Department, where he and his team conduct long-term planning of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and lead SAF-wide transformation and restructuring efforts. In particular, his portfolio deals with maritime issues, working closely with the RSN to understand its transformation efforts and assist to incorporate it into the wider SAF’s plans.
The challenges that confront MAJ Lau in his current appointment are vastly different from his earlier appointments. For instance, he highlights that the world is becoming increasingly resource-constrained. Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has slowed down as the economy matures, which translates into a less rosy defence budget and the SAF having to be more prudent and effective with every dollar invested.
“Our responsibility is to find ways to overcome these constraints –employing technology, refining processes and adopting new fighting concepts are some of these ways. The SAF must constantly reinvent itself to stay relevant, remain ahead of the curve and prepare for future challenges,” MAJ Lau shares.
“As a Force Transformation Officer, I am empowered to be bold in my thinking. We strive to challenge the norms and unshackle ourselves from old ways of doing things. In order to bring about transformation, we need to be visionaries,” he reflects.
MAJ Lau Jianmin Jamin
Recipient of the SAF Merit Scholarship
Force Transformation Officer, SAF Joint Plans and Transformation Department
Taking the Dive
Reflecting on his career, MAJ Lau relishes the opportunities he has had so far, which have provided him with a good dose of adventure and meaning in the work he does. “I must say I have not been disappointed,” he says.
For those aspiring to become a Naval Officer, he advises, “Officers are selected for their leadership, their ability to think critically and creatively, and learn and adapt quickly. But more importantly, an officer must have the right values; he must have integrity, he must be professional and he must be disciplined. Finally, he must be passionate about his work.” he shares.
“If you have a strong passion for the military, just dive into the deep end and give it a shot. I did precisely that and I haven’t regretted it since,” he concludes.