Dumb Answer, Dumb AnswerBy todayinsingapore
When asked how the Government would deal with resentment over new citizens not having to do National Service (NS), Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan gave this non-answer: “I don’t want to get into the technical and operational and security reasons as to why we don’t enlist them for NS, but the point is that their children will do NS and that their children should be indistinguishable from our children in their accents, hopes, aspirations, obligations and duties to our nation.”
This must be the most blatant affront to the people’s expectation of an elected representative – he refuses outright to give a response to a tabled query from a fellow parliamentarian. Oh, we forget, not all parliamentarians are created equal, some are paid more than others. Consider the atrocious excuses he gave for not doing his homework:
Technical reason: Is there a constitutional amendment hidden somewhere we have yet to be enlightened of? That new citizens are exempt from NS in perpetuity? When a bright lawyer once argued successfully in court it was illegal to exact tolls to enter the Central Business District (CBD) since the motorist had already paid taxes for usage of public roads, they simply rewrote the law. That’s the way they take care of a “technicality”.
Operational reason: Are we running out of training grounds? Pilots now have a home in Idaho to wear Tom Cruise sunglasses and fly around in their spanking new F-15s. Even India is providing facilities for our young men to soldier in realistic terrain, unlike our geographically challenged Tekong camp. Too bad the R&R there pales in comparison to the Pei-Toh district of Taiwan.
Security reason: Lee Kuan Yew told Charlie Rose that we have Ukranians serving in NS. So why should we be afraid of a potential Major Nidal Malik Hasan hiding in the ranks? Is he eying Wong Kan Seng’s job (and pay scale)?
Balakrishnan boasts that, over time, “their children should be indistinguishable from our children in their accents, hopes, aspirations, obligations and duties to our nation”. He conveniently skips the missed unemployment opportunities for Singapore men because their career advancement is handicapped by the disruptive in-camp training demands. Meanwhile, their NS obligation-free contemporaries jet around in their high profiled international marketing trips, invaluable exposure that lands them juicy careers like heading a major local bank. Citizenship is not an issue.
Perhaps the Minister chose to be reticent on a hot topic because he doesn’t want to be reminded how he shot his own foot shortly before the Government approved bar-top dancing:
“If you want to dance on a bar top, some of us will fall off that bar top. Some people will die as a result of liberalising bar-top dancing. Not just because they’ve fallen off the bar top, but because it’s usually a young girl with a short skirt who’s dancing on it, who may attract some insults from some other men. The boyfriend starts fighting. Some people will die.
Blood will be shed for liberalising the policy.” (Straits Times, 3 Oct 2001)