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.

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