Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Solution to National Service in Singapore

Solution To Singapore National Service

As a passionate Singaporean who has 3 boys out of my 4 children, this topic was brought up when I was enjoying my coffee morning with a new neighbour from Turkey.

My neighbor is very new to Singapore and knew nothing about the education, national service and policies here. However it helped as we shared information revolving topics such as real estate, education, medical, grocery shopping, snakes and even monkeys sighted at the reservoirs among others. 

She shared with me a very interesting idea that Turkey adopted for their National service. I thought it made a lot of sense and wondered why Singapore had not adopted the same.

1. First, it allows national service to be deferred till after university education. 

2. Then, if you have studied medicine in the university, you could serve National Service as a doctor. If you still like it in the army after the two years, you could continue to work as a military doctor. The same applies if you are trained as an engineer and so forth in the university. You serve in the relevant military departments which requires your skills set.

3. Lastly, you get paid by the country while you serve as a NSman. How awesome can the idea get? 

The problem only arises if all the boys in Singapore switch to studying only those courses which provide an option to escape combat. I would not eliminate but to carry things to this extreme would be very pathetic. This article has a little insight of the challenges of launching "indication of vocation preference by full-time NS men when they enlist for NS". However, it did not touch on deferring NS till after university and matching the boys' skill sets as an option. 

According to Sibel, boys who see a doctor to escape combat or military training in Turkey are perceived to be "weaklings" or have a real problem physically or with their health. We probably want to promote the same message to the boys growing up around here. 

I emphasize to my boys since toddlers that they will grow up and serve the country one day. They need to recognize that this is good training and the country needs them. I am sure many mothers do so and the boys need to feel proud when they serve the country. My eldest changed his perception after watching the very funny movie of "Ah Boys to Men". It was a great show to depict the feelings of Singaporean citizens going to enter National Service. But he was so terrified of National Service after that. I spent some time explaining to him the background and that it was just a show. Now it is okay. Praise God!

Sibel also explained a little on Turkish wars, the reason why they were proud of boys in combat. I felt better after talking to her because I knew that we had few wars like Turkey.  

She also mentioned that for combat military training, it is 3 mths in Turkey before they enter their relevant fields. Singapore Defence Ministry or its steering committee could decide how long it should take to be sufficient.  

I want to just summarize the benefits in points so that it could be easily analysed by anyone who reads this post:

Benefits of allowing National Service after education:

1. Matching of the boys' relevant skills set which is useful to the army
2. Boys will still undergo physical training relevant to combat.
3. Boys can continue to serve after National Service if they like it.
4. Boys could feel proud to serve the country since they have been allowed to finish their university education. It must be easier to train a boy physically but not in specific areas which they have been trained in the university or colleges 
5. No waste or loss of time while the boys are serving the country. They are being paid by the country. 
6. No interruption to studies of the boys after college.
7. Alleviate complains by public over duration of national service 

Thanks for reading!

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