Monday, August 31, 2009

NS Issue Revisited
NS Issue Revisited

Now that I have calmed down. I decided to revisit the NS issue and write a less emotional analysis of the compensation report.

To understand the issue of NS, we need to first examine the root cause of unhappiness over NS. There are three separate issues which are related but not technically the same. The first is the issue of forced conscription. The second issue is the issue of inequality of treatment. The third is the issue of compensation for service.

Conscription is akin to slavery not service. It is wrong to force a fellow human being to work against his will. Most people (in the street) would agree with this view of forced conscription. We know that from a survey on Tan Kin Lian's blog that given a choice, a staggering 81% of respondents would not do NS. Strangely, most of the remarks about NS on the online forums, do not talk much about the illegitimacy of forced servitude but more on the second issue- the inequality of treatment.

This has been a hot topic on the online forums. It used to be rantings about gender discrimination- how male citizens had to serve while female citizens did not. Over the past decade, the issue of inequality has taken over an added dimension- that of foreigners. Adding up the numbers, it seemed that only a minority of the people living in Singapore have to pay a price for living on the Island. Looking at the statistics, only 32.65% of the people are liable for National Service. (Calculated by assuming 32.65% female citizens, 34.7% foreigners[numbers from this post]) The inequality of treatment is the one which evokes the most emotional response. Because it is in human nature to compare ourselves with others. Skeptic suspects that if everyone on the Island suffered the same fate, the resentment towards NS would be reduced significantly.

Finally, there is the issue of compensation for those who serve NS. Given the fact that there is a huge opportunity cost towards earning money and career advancement, the allowance and compensation for NSF and NSmen is a joke.

Okay so let us see whether the compensation report can address these sources of resentment. The illegitimacy of forced servitude? No. The inequality of treatment to male citizens? No. The compensation for the lost of opportunity? It tries to but it is still inadequate.

That is why, Skeptic finds it strange that the PM in his NDP rally 'promised' a lot of goodies in the compensation report. That is the PAP for you. They have been Promising And Promising for the past decade. But the truth is they have failed to deliver the goods since the mid-nineties.

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