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Defence Minister Ng has Belittled the Sacrifice of Every NSman and Their Families

Dear friends,

Those who call Singapore home are obligated to defend our country.

National Service is the enshrinement of that obligation, and it is a commitment to Singapore that every Singaporean man has given on behalf of our families, who have to suffer our absence when duty calls

So why are foreigners who have taken root here and started families exempt from this duty?

To quote Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen’s ministerial statement on 2 August 2022:

“If a foreigner comes to Singapore and becomes a citizen as a mature adult, typically in his 30s or 40s, we exempt him from National Service because he did not enjoy any socio-economic benefits like young Singaporeans and also because he would be too old to enlist for full-time National Service.”

So now it is about dollars and cents?

Back in 2015, then-Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo said that the contributions of a NSman cannot be “measured in dollars and cents”, when it came to the issue of raising National Service allowances.

Then why does the government adopt such a monetary measurement when it comes to deciding on the qualifying criteria to serve National Service?

I hope that the Defence Minister has not forgotten that many Singaporean men in their 30s are still diligently and steadfastly performing their reservist duties in spite of any disruptions to their jobs and family life.

And that we are required to do so up until the age of 40 years old, or 50 years old for officers.

Even if male New Citizens are deemed “too old” to perform full-time National Service, surely they can be conscripted in different capacities in place of a flat-out two years?

If male foreigners still find it too “unattractive” to take up citizenship even with a lesser form of National Service, then they do not deserve to be called Singaporeans.

And I believe Singaporeans would not want them to be a part of our nation as well.

The SDA is of the opinion that Defence Minister Ng has belittled the sacrifice of every National Serviceman past and present, and the sacrifice of their families.

Sadly, this comes as Singapore celebrates 55 years of National Service.

If this is the type of leadership we have from the government of the day, then I worry for Singapore should we have to fight another war.

Desmond Lim
Singapore Democratic Alliance

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