SAF Chief Guards Officer quits over 'personal reasons'

Col Nelson Yau (R), Chief Guards Officer, with a guardsman (L) during an exercise.

SINGAPORE - Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Chief Guards Officer, Colonel Nelson Yau Thian Hock, has resigned from his post, leaving the Organising Committee of the National Day Parade (NDP) 2012 without a leader.

He made the abrupt announcement last Monday after calling for an emergency meeting, reported local newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

The Colonel, who is the Commander for the 21 Division, tendered his resignation due to 'personal reasons', said the Chinese daily.

The Ministry of Defence had confirmed his resignation, according to the report.

It is believed that this is the first time a senior army officer has stepped down as chairman of the NDP organising committee before the event.

The shocking announcement comes as a surprise to many as not only is it unfortunately timed when preparations for the parade are in full motion, Colonal Yau only took over as Chief Guards Officer and commander of the army's 21st Division in March last year.

However, it was reported by The Straits Times that Colonel Yao is not under investigations by the SAF for any misconduct on his part.

His replacement has not yet been named. But various reports suggests that Colonel Desmond Tan from the Public Affairs Department is the top candidate for the job.

Yau's sudden resignation after holding his post for only one year came as a shock to many, as he was seen as a bright spark with good career prospects ahead.

It is understood that senior SAF officers must give at least three months' notice before tendering their resignation.

Last March, Col Yau took over leadership of the 21 division and was awarded the National Day Public Administration (Silver) (Military) medal.

He was also appointed to helm the National Day Committee responsible for the preparations of the annual parade.

The task of chairing the planning committee is seen as an important one, especially when Singapore is celebrating her 47th anniversary this year. There are high hopes for the celebrations this year, said Shin Min evening daily.

According to Lianhe Zaobao, Col Yau had been actively planning for NDP since last year.

A SAF officer who did not want to be named described Col Yau as a smart and approachable leader.

His departure from the National Day Committee might have "some impact" on the celebrations, said the source.

If Yau had stayed on with SAF, it is believed that he will likely get promoted to Brigadier General this year.

maryanns@sph.com.sg and abrahamr@sph.com.sg

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