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.