Thursday, December 16, 2010

Germany to scrap conscription in mid-2011

Germany to scrap conscription in mid-2011

In its biggest military reform in over 50 years, Germany plans to end conscription next summer and trim down from 250,000 troops to a volunteer force of 185,000.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet agreed Wednesday on the plan to save money and better meet post-Cold War threats. The changes are the most significant since the German army, or Bundeswehr, was founded in 1955, after the country was completely disarmed following its defeat in World War II.

The plan envisions shelving national conscription in July and replacing it by a volunteer term of service. In the case of a national defense emergency, an automatic reactivation of conscription would take place.

Both Germany's Lower House and Upper House of Parliament still need to vote on the new rules, but it is widely expected to pass. No date has yet been set for the vote.

Germany's military was set up after World War II to deal with the massive European land battles that were seen as a very real possibility during the Cold War. But since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the country has been becoming increasingly active in peacekeeping and other missions abroad.

Defense Minister Karl zu Guttenberg has been pressing for the changes, noting that Germany's quarter-million strong military can only support foreign deployments of around 7,000.

The transformation included cuts to the Defense Ministry's bloated bureaucracy and is expected to save Germany euro8.3 billion ($NZ14.8 billion) overall.

The most important change will be that young German men will no longer face obligatory military service, which currently lasts six months. Instead, the military will be made up of a professional core of 170,000 people, with an additional 15,000 able to serve as short-term volunteers for between 12 to 23 months.

Germany now has 6,670 troops abroad - 4,596 serving in Afghanistan and 1,375 in Kosovo. Smaller contingents are deployed in Bosnia, in anti-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa and as part of UNIFIL, the international peacekeeping force, off the coast of Lebanon and elsewhere.

Under the current system, people could opt out of mandatory military service and instead serve in the country's civil service - that will end under the new plan.

To fill the void at hospitals, kindergartens and nursing homes, the government is hoping that up to 35,000 young men and women will instead sign up annually for a one-year-long volunteer service.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NSF's Death a misadventure

Another NSman dies while in service.
The accident remains a mystery as a check conducted found that the seals covering the buttons were intact, indicating that nobody had pressed them by accident."

Ghosts onboard???

NSF's Death a misadventure.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Germany to scrap conscription mid-2011

Germany to scrap conscription mid-2011

   German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a meeting of German insurance companies in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010. Slogan in the background reads "Security".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a meeting of German insurance companies in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010. Slogan in the background reads "Security".
Michael Sohn / AP Photo

The Associated Press

Germany's defense minister announced Monday the nation will end conscription in July 2011 and switch to a slimmed-down volunteer military service of some 185,000 troops focused on missions abroad.

The reforms are aimed at realigning the German army to better reflect the nation's post-Cold War needs, Karl zu Guttenberg told a military conference in Dresden. They are a major step for a country that has been reluctant to send its soldiers overseas, mindful of its role in instigating two world wars.

It is the first time Guttenberg has given a date to end conscription and a concrete number of troops. He said his ministry would be finalizing the details of the raft of cuts and changes that will accompany the restructuring in the coming weeks. Parliament is expected to pass the measures in December.

Despite now having 250,000 troops, only 7,000 are currently deployed at any one time, due mostly to the limited term most conscripts serve. Guttenberg underlined that the reforms were aimed at slimming the nation's military and helping it meet 21st-century needs.

The most important change will be that young German men will no longer be called up for obligatory military service. Instead volunteers will serve between 12 to 23 months volunteer term of service, with soldiers able to deploy abroad after six months of service. Guttenberg hopes that will allow at least 10,000 troops to be deployed abroad in the future.

"The measuring stick must be the missions," Guttenberg said. "That is the heart of the realigned army."

The minister also announced cuts to the Defense Ministry's bloated bureaucracy that will result in changes to the chain of command.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged military leaders in to take advantage of the changes "to make a military service so attractive" that it would be able to pull in sufficient numbers of young soldiers.

Merkel noted the changes were the most significant facing the military since the nation's reunification in 1990, but underlined that they are necessary.

Germany currently has some 7,070 troops abroad - 4,840 in Afghanistan and 1,470 in Kosovo. Smaller contingents are deployed in Bosnia, in anti-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa and as part of UNIFIL, the international peacekeeping force, off the coast of Lebanon and elsewhere.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NS - A little Doubt
A little doubt

With uncommitted foreigners making up 36% of the nation, Singaporean servicemen are asking: "Why are we serving to defend them?" By Seah Chiang Nee.
Nov 6, 2010

(Synopsis: More outspoken and articulate youths who are not afraid to speak their minds have begun questioning the way the government is running the nation state.)

A FAST-TRACK strategy to populate mass foreigners, including well-paid professionals who are here just to earn a living, is putting strain on its concept of a citizens’ army.

The sensitive topic has been swirling around for some time but only privately because no one wants to be accused of undermining the country’s defence.

Already, falling birth-rates had long been reducing the number of 18-year-old recruits since national service (NS) was launched in 1967.

Not helpful is the Government’s ambitious population expansion plan, which brought in two million foreigners since 1990, most of whom owe no loyalty to the country.

Today, the presence of 1.8 million foreigners, who make up 36% of the populace, augurs long-term ill for the NS spirit.

“What it means is that a smaller Singaporean army will have to defend a bigger population during conflict, including fighting for foreigners who actually compete with them for jobs,” said a retired officer.

The biggest bugbear is that – un­­like an estimated 20,000 locals every year – foreigners and permanent residents (PRs) need not do NS or report back for in-camp training for 10 years. Only children of PRs do.

Enlistment is not only obligatory, but in war Singapore’s reservists are activated to be a frontline army. Locals complain it is giving immigrants a big head-start when they compete for jobs.

Predictably, grumblings are loudest among NS youths, who ask, “Do we have to defend them?”

Last week, the controversy became public during a university dialogue session that Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong held with 1,000 university students.

Aerospace engineering undergraduate Lim Zi Rui, 23, who is still serving NS, spoke of how immigration and other changes were creating uncertainties among the young.

“When I was younger, I was very proud of being a Singaporean,” Lim told the Senior Minister, “but that was about five, ten years ago.

"With all these changes in policies and the influx of foreign talent, I really don’t know what I am defending any more.”

Many of the NS men he served with shared this view, he added.

The Nanyang Technology University (NTU) student asked Goh: “Why must I defend foreigners? I feel that there is a dilution of the Singapore spirit in youth. We don’t really feel comfortable in our country any more.”

Goh replied: “This is one early sign of danger. If this is happening, it is very serious.”

He wanted to know why the final year student felt disconnected.

The youth said he was still serving as an officer “and I definitely would love to defend Singapore. But I can tell you honestly that the sentiment on the ground is a bit different.

“My question (is), how are we going to help the younger generation feel a sense of belonging to Singapore? I don’t think it’s about integrating foreigners.”

(Second Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen quickly dismissed talk of a decline in morale, saying surveys showed 95% servicemen would step forward to defend the country when under threat.)

This latest exchange has revealed a chasm in thoughts and understanding between aging leaders and a segment of young citizens unhappy with the way the country is governed.

Compared with the hard-hitting Lee Kuan Yew past, recent university dialogues with current ministers had been more challenging, less compliant affairs.

Lee’s successors are increasingly facing more outspoken and articulate youths not afraid to speak their minds.

Early this year, Lee was himself on the receiving end. A 15-year-old schoolboy petitioned online to get Lee to apologise to Singaporeans for “disparaging” remarks made about them.

Kenneth Lim felt insulted when Lee accused Singaporeans of becoming “less hard-driving and hard-striving” because “the spurs are not stuck into the hide”.

More than 40% of Singaporean voters were born after independence in 1965. Increasingly they hold the key to the future.

In a TV forum in 2006, Minister Mentor Lee was asked some tough questions, something unthinkable from his peer generation.

“What we want is a choice,” said editor Mabel Lee, 28. “What we want is political vibrancy. What we want is a media that can reflect both the views of the opposition as well as of the ruling party fairly.

“What we want is to see that the opposition is being given a level playing field. What we want is fairness in the political sphere.”

Stung, Lee replied: “Let me tell you this. If what you say is a reflection of your generation, then I’m a bit sad.”

People over 55 who had known the hardships his country had overcome would never talk this way, he said, sounding like someone putting a grandchild in her place, a US journalist commented.

Both SM Goh and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lee’s 58-year-old son – who have to content with the free-spirited Internet – are generally more tolerant of public criticisms.

The Youth Wing of their People’s Action Party (PAP) has worked hard to engage the young, going online, and young MPs even danced the hip-hop in public.

But somehow, things have not really worked.

Hsien Loong announced that a new generation of PAP leaders should emerge in the forthcoming election widely expected within months.

“I am 58, and Singapore should not have a prime minister who is 70 years old or more than 70 years old,” he said.

“You have to be in sync with the new generation of people. You may be in touch but you are not of that generation.”

(This article was published in The Star, Malaysia)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NS $9000 handout – is it enough?

NS $9000 handout – is it enough?

I refer to the article “NS handout: The money is not the point” (ST Sep 1).

I agreed with the writer that there are many other ways to appreciate local citizens who have served their national service (NS) without resorting to giving out monetary incentives.

Of course, the $9,000 payout for those completing their national service will still be well received by many local citizens. It is a small token of appreciation to those who have sweat it out in the army camps for 24 months.

Many local men who served their national service did it out of a sense of pride and loyalty to their nation.

I remembered been sent off at the old CMPB in Tanglin Road as a 18-year-0ld almost 30 years ago when I was conscripted.

No one from my family came to see me off but I was proud to serve my nation as I trembed during the pledge at the flagging off ceremony.

I had a tough time during my BMT and sometimes wished that I had suddenly disappeared during training as I could not cope with the physical demand of the regimental regime.

I ate at the army’s cookhouse daily at my posting camp, more out of necessity than choice due to the pitiance allowance of $180 a month, and cried when it was my last day of service to the nation.

I enjoyed my days serving the nation though there were operational hiccups here and there.

Personally, I find that the compulsory national service period can be further shortened to eighteen months from the current two years. I know that the conscription period was already recently shortened from 2 1/2 years to 2 years for NS men holding the rank of corporal and above.

Many NS men I know merely pass their time in their units during the last six months of their service as they wait for their run-out-date (ROD) to arrive. Moreover, a technologically-advanced army like ours should be able to rely less on manpower and more on technology to function.

In fact, the government should slowly move away from compulsory conscription to an army that is run fully by professionals. Nowadays, wars are usually fought by machines managed by well-trained professionals.

With proper planning and budgetting, I am sure that this can be done in the near future. We are also probably one of the few countries in the world that still has compulsory conscription and a declining birthrate will make this difficult to implement.

A professional army means that people will be able to join the armed forces as salaried personnel and ensure that there will be continuity in the services.

Citizens can still go for army training but it will be more for basic defensive duties than anything else.

Currently, I believe many local citizens will agree with me that they have more issue with their reservist duties than the 2-year national service. It is disruptive to both their career and family to say the least.

More significantly, the current 13-year reservist cycle has deter many employers from employing our local executives. Many local employers will first ask: “Do you still have any reservist liablity?” before considering you for possible employment. Too many choices in the job market has clearly place the reservist-liable local executives at a clear disadvantage.

Inevitably, an employer will rather employ a foreigner using the Employment Pass work permit over our local executive if the pay scale is the same for both. The foreign executive can fully focus on his work without any reservist disruption unlike our local citizens who have to answer to our nation’s call annually.

The foreign executive is free of the inconvenience of having to report for reservist duties sometimes up to twice a year for 20 over days at a stretch. It is certainly disruptive to the work flow and operation if the executive is a key member of that company.

A reservist friend of mine, who is a high-flier in his office, has to keep deferring his reservist call-up as his boss didn’t want to release him. When he quitted and change to another company at the age of 40 years old, he was posted to the civil defence force to serve out his reservist liability.

I remembered having to go abroad to Taiwan thrice, over a 5-year period, for at least 20 days per reservist tour when I was performing my 13-year reservist cycle. It was very disruptive to my work and family though I knew that it was an operational need.

In fact, reservist liability is a major consideration for many small and medium size companies hiring key staff – especially if the headcount is relatively thin. Imagine, having two male executives out serving their reservist duties when the company only has a manpower strength of less than ten! It is thus not surprising to see SMEs hiring more foreigners over our local male executives.

Moreover, foreigners who take up citizenship here are free of any reservist liabilities and employers will have no hesitation hiring them over our locally-bred citizens.

The 13-year reservist liability can also be further reduced to a 7-year cycle with better manpower planning so that there is minimal disruption to the reservist’s work duties.

Let’s hope that over time our government is able to phase out compulsory army conscription so that there is a level playing field for both our locally-bred and converted citizens who are born abroad. If not, local citizens will continue to cry foul even with the current monetary incentive after completing their national service.

Gilbert Goh

PS: This letter mailed to the Straits Times forum on 2 Sep was not published.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Govt could look at rewarding ex-NSmen: SM Goh

Haha, ex-NSmen are now an after thought. See, complaining works!

Govt could look at rewarding ex-NSmen: SM Goh

Tue, Sep 07, 2010
my paper

By Kenny Chee

THE Government could, in some way, look into recognising the contributions of older Singaporeans who have completed their national-service cycle, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

As a possibility, he suggested helping those over 55 years old with their medical needs.

SM Goh had been speaking at a post-National Day Rally dialogue last evening with more than 200 grassroots leaders from Marine Parade GRC.

He also added that the Government would take note of suggestions to recognise the sacrifices of those who have completed their national-service cycle.

Last week, the Ministry of Defence announced details of the National Service Recognition Award with payouts of up to $9,000 and $10,500 to NSmen. The award is only for Singapore citizens and does not benefit those who have already completed their national-service cycle.

SM Goh and Marine Parade GRC MPs Lim Biow Chuan and Ong Seh Hong also took queries at the dialogue on concerns such as foreign workers, traffic congestion, carpark woes and public-housing rules.

SM Goh said that the problems Singapore faces today can be resolved, "provided we take a rational approach".

Monday, August 30, 2010

Citizen NSmen to get $9k award

Sun, Aug 29, 2010
my paper

Citizen NSmen to get $9k award

By Gwendolyn Ng

SINGAPORE citizens who have served their national service will each receive $9,000 through a new award to be given by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

The National Service Recognition Award (NSRA) will help to fund the cost of operationally ready national servicemen's (NSmen's) education and also help them buy a home. Commanders will receive a larger sum.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who announced the implementation of the award at the National Day Rally yesterday, said: "It is a significant tangible recognition of the sacrifices, efforts and contributions of our national servicemen. It's for Singapore citizens only."

This will be a token of appreciation for the time and effort citizens give to serve national service, he added.

Mr Lee said: "National service makes a heavy demand on male residents and, I should say, on their spouses and families, too."

He elaborated that male Singapore residents not only have to serve two years of full-time national service and many more years as an NSman, but also try to build their careers and raise their families.

The sum will be paid in tranches at significant milestones of an NSman's service.

It will be deposited into their Post-Secondary Education Accounts and Central Provident Fund accounts.

Mindef will announce details of the award soon.

The award is one of the measures Mr Lee highlighted in a bid to assure Singaporeans that citizens come first.

He added that permanent residents who have completed their national service will receive the award when they take up citizenship.

He was addressing the issue of competition from foreign talent, where he pointed out that it was "not practical to make foreign workers and adult immigrants do national service".

However, Mr Lee pointed out that many PRs and first-generation citizens also do their part by serving national service.

Other ways in which the Government recognises the contributions and sacrifices of NSmen is through providing them with Safra clubhouses, allowances, tax reliefs and top-ups in government bonuses.

The award is good news to 20-year-old NSman Benjamin Huang, who said: "It's good to know that the Government is appreciative of our efforts.

"This will definitely help me pay my school fees when I go to university next year."

Read also: PM Lee's $9000 "Carrot" is an insult!


MINDEF unveils details of NS recognition award

Will $9000 make NSmen STFU and vote PAP?

Welcome the new: frack the old nsmen!

NSmen 'benefited from the peace and prosperity they've helped create'

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

National Service: View from a foreign mum

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

National Service: View from a foreign mum

If you cut through the platitudes, Ms Aarti Giri's letter (The Straits Times 20 August 2010) emphasizes several issues that defence information managers should not lose sight of even after 43 years of National Service.

The first concerns the gulf in attitudes towards NS among Singaporeans. Another red flag is the perception that NS is a sacrifice capped at the duration of a full-time National Serviceman's service to Singapore.

As increasing numbers of foreign-born citizens approach conscription age, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) - which account for the bulk of defence manpower - have little time to lose in calibrating their messages properly.

Every family that sinks its roots in the Lion City brings essentially the same mindset, outlook, fears and prejudices towards NS that Singaporeans harboured when conscription began in 1967. This gulf in attitudes between New Citizens and long-time citizens (Old Singaporeans?) is not easy to bridge.

Dumb down defence information messages for New Citizens and the tone of the messaging could be seen as smug and patronising by older folk.

Calibrate it for Singaporeans who have embraced full-time NS and you risk losing the New Citizens who have yet to buy into the lofty ideals of nation-building and national security.

More worrying is the fallout MINDEF/SAF will be saddled with should a New Citizen NSF end up as a training fatality. Going by probability and the rules of chance, it is only a matter of time before a training accident/incident/glitch that involves a New Citizen NSF triggers the proverbial wake-up call.

When the clarion call is sounded, will New Citizens be rattled?

And how will New Citizens who hail from caste-based societies react when their sons are commanded by someone from outside their social circle? Will centuries-old prejudices undermine their commitment to defence?

Chinese parents in the 1960s knew of the old saying that good sons do not become soldiers, just as good iron is not used as nails. After years of public education more or less erased that point of view, in comes the influx of foreign talent. The wheel has turned full circle and defence information managers may find themselves back at the start line, educating and engaging New Citizens with zero exposure to the military.

This is why MINDEF needs a Public Affairs Directorate (PAFF) at the top of its game. In my opinion, the time for rebuilding will have to begin in earnest after the Director Public Affairs (Designate), Colonel Desmond Tan Kok Ming, formally assumes command of PAFF next month.

Ms Giri's letter is useful because it exposes how expatriates feel towards NS.

She wrote: "I have often come across expatriates discussing how they can help their children avoid NS. To me, it is only fair that if one wants to become a permanent resident or call Singapore home, one should willingly serve because that is what every Singapore male does."

For Singapore's sake, one hopes her point of view is not in the minority.

If Ms Giri keeps it up, her attitude and pro-NS letters may, someday, win her a Total Defence Award.

Be that as it may, even converts such as Ms Giri seem to cling on to fallacies about NS.

She noted that "sacrificing two years of a man's career is a small price to pay for Singapore's safety and security".

This statement ignores the sacrifices that Operationally-Ready NSmen make every time they are called up for NS. It is an obligation that stretches till 40 for other ranks and the age of 50 for officers and key appointment holders.

So New Citizens will need to know, appreciate and accept the stark reality that NS is really a life-long commitment.

NS in Singapore is not a limited tenure, 24-months stint in which citizen soldiers serve and forget.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free museum admission for NSmen: What good is that?

Free museum admission for NSmen: What good is that?

The government announced today that all NSmen will be granted free admission to NHB museums from August 1.

Minister Lui Tuck Yew said 'These visits will broaden your knowledge and enable you to share with friends and relatives why this country is special.'

Is this all the government can do to recognise our NSmen? Increasing an existing 50% discount to 100% free?

Yes, the announcement was concerning museum attendance and not NS benefits. But it shows what the government considers acceptable as benefits for NSmen/NSFs.

Back in August 2009, the RECORD committee set up to look into ways to recognise the effort of NSmen came up with lame suggestions like fitness corners, vouchers for the Singapore Discovery Centre (full of NE propaganda), clubhouses (with payable membership) and mementos (like the infamous NS watch).

Is that how we recognise the years of sacrifices, injuries and lost youth; with vouchers, free museum admission and fitness corners?

This is a government of the cheapest order.

Just look at how President Obama speaks to the wounded veterans of the various American-led wars (watch video below). Note that the US military is comprised entirely of those volunteering on their own free will. Yet, they are so well taken care of and highly recognised (personally and monetarily) and respected for their bravery and service to the nation.

The SAF is a forced-conscription military. Singaporean males cannot choose whether they want to give up two years of their prime youth and weeks of reservist duty. To add insult to injury, the government misuses the NSFs as free labour during NDP parades and shows.

With the influx of PRs and new citizens exempted from NS, the government will continue to face increasing anger and outrage from disaffected citizens used so callously in the name of national security.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Problems in deferment for NSMen

Problems in deferment for NSMen

Readers of TR,

I believe I am not the only person doing his best to balance between reservist, work, family and study life. The government encourages us to study and so I did a part-time degree in UniSim with government grant.

However I am experiencing such difficult and unreasonable situations with my reservist deferment unit. Ever since I started studying last year, I found out that I’m not eligible for deferment because it is not a local university like NTU/NUS/SMU. However, in order to be eligible for grant, it has to be a local university in which UniSim is recognised by the Government. But its not a university recognised by Mindef. I wonder why is there a difference in view between Mindef and the Government?

depressionMindef officers later called me to work out with my commander(CO), I believe them at first. On the first day, I was told by CO that I should planned out my study without affecting my NS work. He does not understand that studying part-time(night class) in Unisim also have to do the assignments and submit them. If I’m not able to leave for class, how am I able to study effectively and submit assignments which will affect my grades? He does not have an answer and was bent on NOT working with me.

On Mindef’s website, they mentioned that if you have ROMs/local wedding, you can get deferred. This year is a good year for me to get married. Therefore I applied for deferment. However, I get a different opinion once again from my Unit and Mindef views. The same commander and other officers rejected my marraige deferment this year. They said I have to work out with my commander again. I doubt that is going to happen.

For 2 straight years, I get caught in these kind of situations. I have not been following much on army news but I recall Mindef is transforming. However, all I see is that it is transforming into a more harsh, critical and less understanding organization and that the peoples’ best interests are not served.

So much of the talk about growing Singapore’s population.


Discourage Singaporean

Editor’s note: Letter was published verbatim.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Issue of NS for Singaporean Men Part II

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Issue of NS for Singaporean Men Part II
Well, I have to said that NS is good for Singapore, but there are many ways for PRs to "Siam" or dodge NS using many methods. I quote an Anonymous who commented:

" It's been like that for 40 years already. Just that the problem is much more acute now due to much harsher competition in the real world. 30 yrs ago, you can still fully pay your HDB flat within 10 years and raise a family of 2 kids even though you don't even have full 'O'-Level qualification. Today even if you have degree, you still need to stay with your parents until 33, 35 yr old in order to save up enough to pay the deposit for the govt pigeon-hole in the sky. If you don't have degree, be prepared to live like foreign workers and S-Pass workers in your own country.

This thing about male PRs has been on-going for over 20 years already. I have a neighbour where whole family took up PR almost 20 years ago. Both parents hold high-paying jobs in the finance sector, so S'pore govt probably begged them to take up PR. My neighbour also quietly told me that PR allowed him practically all the benefits of citizenship e.g. subsidised school fees for his 3 children, subsidised fees in govt hospitals, ability to buy resale HDB for investment etc.

The real kicker came when this neighbour's son completed 'A'-levels. Immediately the son gave up his PR, and was sent to US university to study. This boy and his family enjoyed all the privileges similar to citizen, and yet when it came time to reciprocate responsibility, they packed the son off overseas without any punishment or repercussion. The rest of the family -- father, mother and 2 grown-up daughters -- still keep their PRs as they have no NS-liability. That son worked 2 years in US after graduation, and recently came back to a high-paying job in S'pore as a foreign talent, earning over $150K a year at age 25. At 25 yr old, most of our local guys have only just graduated and have to fight tooth & nail with China and India "FTs" for $2K-$2.5K jobs."

Really irony isn't it? So we used to said in Camp "Squeeze balls"! But this thing not camp issues or instructors or officers make us Squeeze balls, but our PR loop holes :(

Thursday, June 3, 2010

And You Tell Me A Singapore Passport Is Priceless!

And You Tell Me A Singapore Passport Is Priceless!

So sorry to just jump up on all of you like that after close to a month of not posting and then diving deep into a chant-like rant. But really, the impetus for this post is this nagging frustration I have had over the past 10 years and a sudden desire to transcribe the abstract ideas into prose.

Well, it just happens that I am about to collect my new passport (it’s still a red one, unfortunately, if you happen to make some remote connection) tomorrow and have been flipping the pages of my old one. It is a respectable booklet which has served me well, in my honest opinion. It has identified me to numerous customs officers, gained me entry to many countries, and unbelievably survived 6 separate trips to the singapore immigrations and customs authority (aka passport office) for extensions to its validity.

“6 trips to the passport office in 10 years?!” you must be thinking now, “is this person a criminal or what?”

I’m sure that the common person’s experience with passports is a simple one: collect passport from passport office, use it till it expires in, perhaps, 10 years time, done deal. No, I apologise, not for me. My passport was issued in October 2000, and expired in July 2001. Yes, however impossible, that’s what’s written on its photo page.

Which is the reason why I always get one, if not two, stares from customs officers each time I travel. I do not blame them – just imagine if you were the officer at Washington Dulles who, in March 2010, was presented with this passport which has ‘expired’ for 9 years!

Continuing on with the customs officer role play, you would then be told by none other than myself to “flip down a couple pages”. What you will subsequently see confirms your suspicions of my ‘criminal past’.

~~~flips 2 pages~~~
- 9 month extension in March 2001
- 2 year extension in May 2001
~~~flips another 2 pages~~~
- 2 year extension in October 2002
- 2 year extension in June 2004
- 2 year extension in November 2005
~~~flips another 2 pages~~~
- 3+ year extension in May 2007

By the time you actually flip to the correct “passport extension” stamp, you would not only be irritated, but also puzzled all the same. “Why was this young man given a restricted passport? What crime did he commit?”

Truth be told, I have never committed any crime. This passport pain in the butt is also not an isolated case. In fact, every Singaporean male of my era (they scrapped passport restrictions on NS-liable Singaporean males in 2006) has experienced it before.

The incredibly long afternoon queues at the passport office (which really were incredibly long) just before an overseas trip to extend our passports; the odd stares from customs officers in foreign lands; the hassle of not being totally sure of our passport’s expiry date each time we fill those customs forms out on claustrophobic airplane seats. That was the price we paid since age 11 for the paranoid and autocratic policies of our government.

Yes, when I was only 11 years old, my government was so afraid of my leaving the country to escape military conscription that they issued me a passport which was only valid for 9 months. It signals paranoia when the government of a country which is not at war forces all males into 2 year conscriptions. A panic attack occurs when such a government pre-empts AWOL attempts and implements unnecessarily strict passport restrictions on all 11 year old males.

I’m not here to effect any changes – those passport controls have been abolished since 2006. I, however inappropriate this may sound, am just here to rant. You may be a Singaporean female or non-Singaporean, and do not know how being issued a passport which is valid for 9 months feels like. Let me tell you straight in the face now: it sucks.

Many people have ridiculed my every attempt at bringing up the topic of migration. They typically centre on one main argument: that the red little booklet gains you visa-free access to a buffet selection of countries. They then tell anecdotes of non-singaporean friends having to go through the troublesome motions of applying for visas, and expect me to conclude that a singapore passport is best. Well, haven’t I been experiencing that all this while? If we summed up the total amount of time I spent queuing at the passport office for passport extensions, I think it would be enough time to apply for all the visas I would have ever needed in the past 10 years. And how about my 2 year conscription? 2 years is definitely enough time to apply for all the visas the world can offer you ten times over.

And now you tell me a singapore passport is priceless? So sorry, I must be blind!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Risking Life and Limb as a Conscript in the Lion City

The recent news of how not just one but two SAF servicemen (one a regular, the other a full-time NSF) were shot and injured by Thai farmer discharging his shotgun shows how one risks life and limb in mandatory conscription in the Singapore Armed Forces.

It was fortunate that no-one was killed but the regular serviceman now has a serious eye injury. The NSF is now living with pellets embedded in his skin possibly for life. How is he going to be compensated (if any) by the SAF for this accident?

Again it shows up how the scale of benefits and responsibilities is tilted against the Singaporean male citizen who has to serve full-time and reservist national service in the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Forces.

Our young male citizens are risking life and limb; protecting us with their lives and in return, they are amply rewarded with Safra/Home Team Club memberships (which they have to pay their own subscriptions) and get the few thousand tax relief (and not rebate!). Do you think that human life is worth a few hundred dollars in tax savings and the additional $50 or $100 top-ups from the Government that occurs on the occasional year?

Do you think this is a fair exchange given that female citizens do not serve the same responsibilities and neither do first generation male Permanent Residents, female PRs and foreigners who enjoy the economic benefits of working and living in Singapore but none of the requisite responsibilities imposed by this archaic and wasteful system of conscription?

Is duty, honour and country the only thing male citizens can cling to in understanding why there is an uneven playing field for competing for jobs in Singapore Inc?

Why are we still clinging on to an out-dated system of mandatory conscription when many developed countries have either shortened their NS liabilities (e.g. Taiwan, South Korea etc) and even our neighbours Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand depend mostly on regulars and supplemented with a small group of conscripts (Thailand by lottery) or volunteers (Malaysia)?

Don't give me the old propaganda/national education spiel about Singapore being too small to deploy a fully professional force type of argument. When your defence budget of about $13 billion annually is 2-3x your neighbour's, you can afford to plough some of that budget into funding a fully professional army. It should be noted that our Navy and Air Force is staffed mostly by regulars or professional soldiers.

Conscription is an anarchronism in today's world. It is less about mobilising the citizenry to military defence than a mechanism to enslave the young male citizens to a system of compliance, obedience and fear of authority.

Why else do we have a system when clearly there is sufficient money to fund a fully professional army that is more suited to fight the low intensity conflict that is characterised by the war on terrorism?

Majullah Singapura.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Issue of NS for Singaporean Men

Even today, things still have not changed for the better for NSmen. Are you going to wait some more?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Issue of NS for Singaporean Men
Some one wrote to Today paper Voices saying that part time students of UniSim cannot get deferment from ICT as the University is not recognised by Mindef. Mindef then adviced him to seek the NS unit CO's understand, but the CO told him that NS duties come first....

I was thinking is this the deal male citizens get when comes to NS? Doing a part time means juggling between work and study and needed alot of commitment. Unless someone's family is rich enough to sponsor himself for full-time local or even overseas university education, part-time university course is the only option.

However, we, the Singaporean men still lacks behind the PRs who need not serve NS.

My friend who was in the human resource company was telling me that there were PRs from Malaysia who was in Singapore since young and yet need not serve NS. I was told that one of the parent, usually the mothers are Singaporean. Their kids are just PR and they need not serve NS.

This period the Poly gradation ceremonies are just been over and the Singaporean males students are now in BMT while these PR males are out looking for jobs. They will have 2 years lead time over Singaporeans.

If they did not take up any grants from Singapore government, they can carry on the university education and the gaps between Singaporean and PRs become wider.

I am not saying NS is no good, but the PAP government should look into these PR loop holes and even the playing field.

However, the local political playing field is control by PAP alone and I am doubtful the PAP government is even bothered by this issue.

As some said, the NS and the SAF are here to protect the PR and the wealth associated with them....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shooting incident: Mindef should have told public

Shooting incident: Mindef should have told public

YESTERDAY'S report ('Another SAF soldier shot by Thai farmer too') made me feel greatly disappointed with the Ministry of Defence's public affairs division.

Mindef's failure to admit that not one, but two Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers were shot in Thailand, until a relative of the second injured soldier approached The Straits Times, has demonstrated the ministry's basic reluctance to tell the public the truth about military casualties.

The second case also was a matter of genuine public interest, especially since a full-time national serviceman was involved.

As citizen soldiers and taxpayers, we have a right to expect that Mindef will account for all military casualties - whether in training or actual operations -where there are no national security implications.

Matthias Chew

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another SAF soldier (NSman) shot by Thai farmer too

May 26, 2010

Another SAF soldier shot by Thai farmer too

By Jermyn Chow & Lester Kok

NOT one but two Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers were hurt while out on a night military exercise in Thailand in March.

A local farmer out hunting accidentally shot Private J. Pritheery Raj, a full-time national serviceman (NSF). Two shotgun pellets are still lodged in his cheekbones and his right shoulder.

The 19-year-old is now on medical leave.

News of this second shooting surfaced after a relative of Pte Raj called The Straits Times on reading its report that a villager had fired his shotgun at First Sergeant Woo Teng Hai. The regular commando is said to have been blinded in his right eye.

The Defence Ministry, which had confirmed the accidental shooting of 1st Sgt Woo on Monday, admitted yesterday that another soldier had also been hurt in the same incident.

It would not say how many other soldiers were with them at that time. All it would say was that these were the only two who were injured.

The Straits Times understands that another SAF officer was with Pte Raj and 1st Sgt Woo as they walked along a plantation in the Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, on March 13.

The SAF has been carrying out training on Thai soil since 1973.

The night mission was part of the 1st Commando Battalion’s annual proficiency test, which is conducted by the Army Training Evaluation Centre, or Atec, the unit that Pte Raj is serving in as a trooper.

The soldiers crouched on seeing flashlights about 20m away, and that was when the farmer fired.

Pellets hit Pte Raj’s face and shoulder, while it is understood that 1st Sgt Woo was shot in his right eye.

An army medic attended to them onsite before they were evacuated to a local hospital. Both servicemen were then flown back to Singapore and hospitalised.

Pte Raj’s mother, Madam Isaac Kanaeswary, said doctors here could not remove the pellets lodged in her son’s cheekbones and shoulder because they deemed the procedure too risky.

The NSF declined to comment on what happened but said he would be reporting for duty next week, after being on medical leave for two months.

Save for the occasional headaches, Pte Raj said he ‘feels fine’.

A shotgun is generally used to hunt animals or birds using pellets half the size of a pea. It could kill a person if fired at close range, within 30m.

Two months after the shooting incident, the SAF is still discussing with Madam Kanaeswary’s family Pte Raj’s role for the remaining year of his full-time national service.

The NSF’s superiors from Atec visited the family at their Thong Soon home near Upper Thomson last night. The mother of two said she wants everything to be over and for her son to complete his stint.

Military conscription to be abolished in 2015

Military conscription to be abolished in 2015

Military  conscription to be abolished in 2015Taiwan aims to abolish the compulsory military service system starting 2015.(CNA)

Beginning in 2015, the compulsory military service system that generations of Taiwanese males have had to undergo will be abolished, it has been announced.

In other words, males born after Jan.1, 1995 will not be required to undergo the one to two years of military service that has historically been required of all Taiwanese men. They will still need to receive four months of basic training, however.

Males born before Dec. 31, 1992 will still need to undergo military training. Even if these males do not perform their military services until after 2015, they will be required to perform one year of compulsory military service duties.

As to males born in between Jan.1, 1993 and Dec.31, 1994, their fate is still not entirely clear. The Ministry of National Defense has not announced if 1993 or 1994 will be the final dividing line separating those who do and do not have to perform compulsory military duties.

In regards to the uncertainty, Wang Chun-chiang, director-general of the Department of Manpower at the MND, explained July 14 that the issue has not been decided and is still under review.

But the MND will follow the requirements of the Legislative Yuan and make a decision at the very latest one year before the new system takes effect.

When the MND reaches a decision, it will submit it to the Executive Yuan. After the Executive Yuan approves of the decision, the MND will make a formal announcement on the matter, Wang said.

In terms of funding the new all-volunteer force, Lin Yu-pao, deputy minister of national defense, admitted that a volunteer force would be more costly than a conscription force. However, the extra costs are not as high as others have speculated, Lin said.

In order to fund the new forces, the MND does not rule out requesting additional funds from the Executive Yuan, said Jaw I-ming, director general of the MND's Comptroller Bureau.

In principle the MND hopes that its total budget will be less than 3 percent of the gross domestic product. If its budget exceeds 3 percent of the GDP, one acceptable solution would be to have personnel costs make up 45 percent of the entire military budget, up from 40 percent, Jaw said.

Enlisted men will serve a period of four years after the new system takes effect in 2015. After one year, enlistees can apply to become non-commissioned officers. The salary for an enlisted soldier would be roughly NT$35,000 (US$1,060) per month, about twice as high as the basic labor wage. (HZW)

Monday, May 24, 2010

France salutes end of military service

Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 15:48 GMT
France salutes end of military service
One of France's last  conscripts is decorated
The last 1,000 conscripts are leaving armed forces
Almost a century of French history has come to an end as the country's last conscripts completed their military service.

Around 1,000 young men were being demobbed after their 10-month stint in the armed forces.

The ending of military service marks France's move to a purely professional armed forces. Several other European countries, like Spain, Italy and Portugal, are also phasing it out.

I think that they could have made better use of us

Conscript Philippe Guiffault

Among those coming to an end of their enforced army life were the last 24 men to be conscripted into the 16th Rennes Artillery Unit, based in western France.

The conscripts had contrasting views on their time in the army.

At a ceremony to mark the occasion, Emmanuel Lepine told French La Chaine Info television that he had found it beneficial.

"You can integrate with everyone and different social classes. It's a good thing. Honestly, I think that it was a good experience for me," he said.

But Philippe Guiffault reflected a not uncommon view among conscripts that they could have made better use of their time.

Emmanuel Lepine found service beneficial
Emmanuel Lepine was happy in the ranks

"In light of the duties that we were given, I think that they could have made better use of us," he said.

National service was originally going to be ended next year, but 200,000 young men breathed a sigh of relief in June when it was announced that they would not be called up.

The French Government decided to withdraw the service earlier than planned because it said it had had major successes in recruiting professional soldiers.

However, military experts have said conscripts are expensive to call up and then feed, clothe, house and train, but are of little use in a modern fighting force.

Over the years increasing numbers of young men also refused to do military service and as conscientious objectors opted for a longer civilian service.

Century of service

The modern form of universal national service was introduced in France in 1905 when conscripts had to serve two years in the armed forces.

Philippe Guiffault said they could have done better things
Some conscripts said service was a waste of time

This increased to three years in World War I but was progressively reduced to 10 months and millions of young men were called up down the years.

France's armed forces are expected to comprise 92,500 professionals with another 27,000 participating as national service volunteers by the end of next year.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

29 Jun 01 | Europe
The death of conscription
03 Sep 99 | Europe
Italy to scrap conscription
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

Monday, May 3, 2010

NS in hospital or the police?

The way to go is for a smaller, specialised force and changed deployments

by Tang Li
AS A Singaporean who served National Service (NS) in a combat unit (23 SA, 1994-1997), I enjoyed Paul Gilfeather's commentary "A lesson from Singapore"(April 29). However, much as I appreciate his endorsement of our NS and my own experiences in it, I have to ask myself if NS - as we know it - is still as relevant to the current state of affairs.

Singapore established NS in March 1967 because there was a need to build a credible defence force and deterrent as quickly as possible with limited resources. Thanks to more than 40 years of NS, Singapore can mobilise nearly half a million soldiers if the need arises. Foreign military experts have described the Singapore Armed Forces as capable of defending Singapore effectively.

However, while Singapore's defence policy has thus far proved to be the right one, one has to ask if the institution of NS is suitably geared to the wars of tomorrow?

There are fewer and fewer conflicts between nation states. More often conflicts are between nation states and international terrorist groups. The United States talks about war with Al Qaeda and not with Afghanistan. Israel fights the Hezbollah and Hamas rather than Syria. In South-east Asia, we are more likely to see a scenario where we work with our neighbours to defeat groups like Abu Sayyaf or Jemaah Islamiah.

Armed forces are moving away from being about delivering massive firepower on the battlefield to being about delivering "smart" firepower on specific targets. Special forces like the British Special Air Service or the US Navy Seals are growing in prominence.

Yes, it's important to still have the capability to fight a conventional war. Yes, NS is a credible deterrent. And, yes, NS is still important to Singapore society.

However, is our ability to mobilise as many troops as we can a little outdated? Should we instead focus more on training a smaller force of more specialised troops?

If the SAF were to become more specialised and require less manpower (bearing in mind that birth rates have fallen and cohorts are getting smaller), where could the remaining enlistees be sent to?

One possibility is the Ministry of Home Affairs: To work with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority or the police.

Given the growing likelihood that the enemy of the future will be a terrorist group, it is important that our NS personnel be trained in investigation and working with civilians.

Another area where more NS personnel could be deployed is in the Ministry of Health, where they could learn first aid skills and also help to ease manpower shortages at hospitals. In the event of a terrorist attack, shouldn't the majority of our population be able to deal with the wounded?

Our economy is moving away from labour-intensive manufacturing that competes on price to more-advanced, value-added services, where a premium is placed on brain power rather than manpower. To prepare Singaporeans to meet the needs of the economy, we are training our workers to work smart and be more productive.

Perhaps, NS should mirror the transformation in our economy - training Singaporeans who are prepared to "serve" smart.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Give up citizenship? Brothers must do NS first

Give up citizenship? Brothers must do NS first – Norwegian trio’s bids rejected (Alfresco forum)

Post 1

Give up citizenship? Brothers must do NS first Norwegian trio’s bids rejected.

Only those who haven’t enjoyed privileges of citizenship exempted, says Mindef

By Amelia Tan

THREE brothers, born to a Norwegian father and Singaporean mother, want to give up their Singapore citizenship.

But the Ministry of Defence has said no. Not until they do their national service.

The Bugge brothers – Thorbjoern, 33; Ingvar, 31; and Frode, 30 – left Singapore when each turned 18 and have tried and failed several times for over a decade to renounce their Singapore citizenships.

They want to renounce their citizenship so they will be free to visit their parents – Mr O.M. Bugge, 65, and his wife Margaret, 55 – who still live here.

They cannot return here because they have been classified as NS defaulters and risk arrest on arrival.

They were all born here and are considered Singapore citizens. But they also hold Norwegian citizenships, like their father.

They first left Singapore when they were five, three and two years old respectively, and lived in Norway for 10 years before returning here.

But each left Singapore after their O levels, and just before they could be called up for national service.

Mindef sent them NS enlistment letters, but in turn, each brother ignored the call-up. Instead, they enlisted in the Norwegian armed forces for a 19-month national service term.

All three decided to renounce their Singapore citizenship when they turned 21, but Mindef rejected their initial bids to do so.

They tried several more times over the years, writing to the ministry, then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong and the late former president Ong Teng Cheong to explain their case.

Their parents have also met staff from Mindef.

But all their attempts have failed.

When contacted, Mindef’s director of public affairs, Colonel Darius Lim, said: ‘Only persons who have emigrated at a very young age together with their families, and who have not enjoyed the privileges of Singapore citizenship, will be allowed to renounce their Singapore citizenships without serving national service.’

He said the three men are Singapore citizens and are required to fulfil their NS obligations. Their requests to renounce their Singapore citizenships can be considered only upon completion of full-time NS.

The brothers said they were disappointed by Mindef’s position.

When asked, they maintained that they did not leave Singapore to avoid NS. They preferred to be in Norway, they said, and their enlistment there showed they were not shirkers of NS, they said.

Mr Frode Bugge is a career soldier with the Norwegian army and has seen action in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Brother Thorbjoern is also a career soldier, while Ingvar is a postman.

For now, they will have to continue meeting their parents in Malaysia. Their mother spends six months in Norway each year.

Their father, a marine consultant, said he cannot afford to spend extended periods in Norway because his business is based in Singapore. He tries to visit his sons once a year.

He said: ‘My sons’ cases are about a choice of citizenship, and not a case of national service…They would like to get this matter cleared up and be able to travel to Singapore for a visit like any other Norwegian.’

He is hoping that the law will be changed.

‘My sons’ situations may seem unique now. But as more foreigners marry Singaporeans, there will be more of these cases,’ he added.

NS defaulters can be jailed up to three years and/or fined up to $10,000 if convicted.


Post 2
I am the Father of these three Norwegians who are the subject of much of this tread and would like to set a few facts straight.

They were born in Singapore in the middle of the “Two is Enough” or “Stop at two”-period (1975-78). As such they had to follow the Father’s citizenship and was included on my passport within weeks after birth to avoid being deported as “illegal aliens”, although the Singapore Constitution gave them the right to a Singapore Citizenship.

As they got older they got their own Norwegian Passports, which had to be endorsed with a “Dependent Pass” to allow them to remain in Singapore. A letter from the Norwegian Embassy here confirms the facts.I was running my own small P/L company in Singapore at the time and held an Employment Pass.

We left Singapore in 1980 and moved to Norway in order for the boys to learn how to be Norwegians. They arrived there at the tender age of 4 1/2, 3 and 2 years.
None of them spoke a word of Norwegian but, thrown into a Kindergarten with all Norwegian kids, they quickly learnt. Within 6 months you could not hear the difference between them and their playmates, but we kept them speaking English at home.

In 1990 we moved back to Singapore to give them a grounding in their other identity. They arrived here as Norwegian Citizen and received a Social Visit Pass in their Norwegian Passport, like any other visitor. This was renewed a few times as we applied for places in Government Schools for them. But that stranded as they were not Singapore Citizen and required Student Pass to be accepted. They actually lost a full year of schooling in the process.

One day an Immigration Officer asked; “why do you apply for Student Pass for your sons, they are entitled to dual citizenship until 21, which give them the right to stay and study in Singapore until they are 21″
A few minutes later they had a stamp in their Norwegian passport to the affect. Nothing said that they would expose themselves to NS liabilities, or be refused their right to choose.

We managed to enrolled two in a private, but government sponsored school here. (Seventh-day Adventist School) The oldest studied for his O-levels as a private candidate.

Now we made a big mistake. They were offered Pink ICs, which we accepted on the understanding that they would be able to choose which citizenship to hold and which to renounce at 21 per Singapore Constitution and Citizenship Laws. Little did we know that this would be interpreted as an acceptance of NS liability later.

As the first son finished his O-levels, he left to further his study in Norway as a Photo Journalist.
While he was there the first letter from MINDEF rolled in. I replied that he was a Norwegian Citizen and was studying in Norway and to please defer him from NS registration until he returned to Singapore, which was granted.

At the time it was not clear to me which citizenship he, or his brothers, would chose at 21 as they had been groomed to make up their own mind when the time came.

On completion of the one-year course he enrolled in the Norwegian Army to do his National Service. Shortly after we were informed that he had volunteered for service in the Norwegian peace keeping contingent in Bosnia. He has later served in Lebanon, Kosovo and Afghanistan and is due to go back to Afghanistan to train the Afghan Army soon.

His youngest brother has followed in his footsteps and are due back in Afghanistan for the fourth time. He has also been in Kosovo twice earlier.

It therefore became quite clear that he had made up his mind which citizenship he wanted to retain and which to renounce. As he became 21, he sent in an application to renounce his right to Singapore Citizenship, which was promptly refused by MINDEF. He has not been back in Singapore since and he will be 33 in a few days time (9. Sept)

The other brothers also left on completion of O-levels and returned to Norway, as none of them found Singapore to their liking at the time. After all they had grown up with wide open spaces, mountains and the sea, and found Singapore to be too restricted to their liking.

As the youngest brother turned 30 earlier this year, they all sent in an application to renounce their right to Singapore Citizenship again, with the same result.
MINDEF insisted that they were defaulters from NS and should return to Singapore “to face the music”.

I have had numerous meetings with the person in charge of such cases at CMPB, sent letters to the Minister of Defence through our MP at the time and later through a Lawyer. I have also sent letter to the Registrar of Citizen, the Prime Minister (then Goh Chok Tong) and the President (the late Ong Teng Chong) but all letters were replied by the same person at CPMB, with the stock reply, NO.

This is NOT first and foremost a question of NS and where, or whether, it should be served. It is a question of the right of a person born with two citizenships to have the right to choose which to keep and which to renounce at the age of 21.
Once he/she have made their choice they will have to comply with whatever obligations that goes with it, whether military service or others.
To deny anybody this right is against UN Charter of Human Rights, and against the Singapore Constitution.

As it stands, our three sons are unable to visit family in Singapore without risking 3 years jail and S$ 10,000 fine, although they have complied with the law and renounced one of their two citizenships as required, and served National Service in the country to which they belong.

This may not affect all that many yet, but with the number of mixed marriages in Singapore today it will be more and more of a problem.

I have spent most of my life here and has a very clear understanding of the need for a strong defence, but to force foreign nationals to serve in SAF does NOT improve military readiness or moral.

We allowed the interview in Straits Times in the hope that we could get a discussion going on this subject, but the article published was angle in such a way the it appeared that our sons had left Singapore “just before they could be called up for NS” and joined the Norwegian Army to obtain Norwegian Citizenship.
Nothing could be further from the truth, which raises a question about the agenda of the Journalist, and her Editor.

Proud Father.


Post 3

I thought in view of the interest expressed, it might be pertinent to put couple of things together for those who are planning to migrate and seek a new life. You will never find anything with clarity with the autocratic PAP and I do not want to see the Elites benefiting and the rest making the wrong decision.

This thread is not about migrating. This is for those who have made the decision and looking for help with some aspects. Others are welcome to throw in their view and experiences

Do note that things change over time.

NS Obligations

Those with boy migrating and who leave these shores before their boys reach the age of 11 yrs are not obliged to do NS but have to follow the necessary procedures to get exemption. Passports expire at the age of 11 and that should be an indicator.

Once you have left, do not renew the passport, apply for NRIC etc as one is deemed to enjoyed the privileges of citizenship and NS become mandatory.

At age 13, apply to CMPB for exit visa stating that your family has migrated and the kids is enrolled in a school in the new country. No bond is required. CMPB uses an outsourced agency to handle call centre matters and they have no clue about migrant cases. Go directly to CMPB.

At age 16.5, you need to register for NS ( an interesting term as you are actually seeking deferment). You can do it by post to CMPB again citing that you have migrated, acquired new citizenship and the kids is schooling. You will be given deferment until the age of 21 where the kid must decide if they want to hold on their Singapore citizenship. If they do, than NS must be served. If not, exmeption for ever.

All Singaporeans, male and female cannot renounce their citizenship until age 21, and if they have acquired new citizenship, they will be dual citizens.

In the meantime, one can travel in and out of Singapore without bond and using the passport of their new country.

Those who left after 11 years, unfortunately are obliged to serve.

Note: If your child’s Singapore passport expires at the age of 11 and the family is not eligible for new citizenship, the kid will not be able to travel. Do resist the pain of not visiting Singapore unless you want him to serve NS. Do not let friends and extended family members make decisions for your kids.

Whatever it is, do be careful so that your kid can travel in and out of Singapore when he grows up and not be banned.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why SAF Officers have fast track promotions
By BL on 12 Mar 2007 1:15 PM

The headline "US soldier takes potshots at SAF" by Loh Chee Kong (Today, 12 March 2007) examines several themes in an research journal article "The Roar of the Lion City: Ethnicity, Gender and Culture in the Singapore Armed Forces" (Armed Forces & Society, 2007, 33:265-285) and the rebuttals from MINDEF in response to several issues raised in the article. The piece was written by Sean P. Walsh, a graduate from United States Military Academy currently assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

In the article, Walsh explored several themes such as ethnic diversity, professionalism & civil military relations of officers and role of women in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). While most of his sources are cited as private interviews, it is difficult to ascertain the quality of the interviews, given that we only know that one of the interviewees is a United States army officer stationed in Singapore.

One issue of interest revolves around the fast track promotion and professionalism of SAF scholars. Walsh asserted that some SAF officers see that their military careers as "a stepping stone to other careers in politics, business, or the civil service" and inferred that there is a lack of professionalism at the institutional level.

We offer a hypothesis to show why the policy makers in SAF have decided to adopt such a policy of fast track promotion of military officers, particularly the overseas SAF scholars. The basic reason is to prevent military officers from consolidating too much power such that a military coup is possible in Singapore. In fact, by adopting such a policy, it reinforces the culture of the military being integrated with the civilian government. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew once mentioned the possibility of a military coup if a freak election result happens, "Without the elected president and if there is a freak result, within two or three years, the army would have to come in and stop it." (Reuters, 16 Sep 06). That adds to another dimension in asking the question, "Is a military coup possible in Singapore given that there exist such a mechanism to stop the military officers in acquiring too much power?" (see this article Apr├Ęs nous, les militaires by Alex Au). Of course, that is an extremely complex question which we can leave it to another day.