Singapore Media Watch

Monday, November 20, 2006

Your views: NS stint may hinder job prospects for S'poreans

I understand the frustration of the letter writer, Sylvester Lim Teck Hee, in today's Straits Times, "NS stint may hinder job prospects for S'poreans" (ST, 20 Nov). I
can fully empathise with him as I have relatives and friends or their sons facing similar predicament.

Increasingly, citizens are facing stiff competition for jobs locally with globalization but
ironically, they are disadvantaged if they are males with reservist obligations.

Correct me if I am wrong, but if they happen to work overseas, they will not be subject
to the yearly in-camp training. However, in their country of birth, instead of "home ground" advantage (in soccer lingo), they are instead disadvantaged when compared to foreigners/PRs without such yearly reservist obligations that are becoming "disruptive" in the eyes of employers, like Mr Sylvester Lim himself.

First, these male citizens will "lose" 2 years of their most productive lives undergoing national service (NS), but that's not all as highlighted by Mr Lim's letter.

Is it any wonder then why nearly all of these NS-eligible males are against serving NS (with the possible exceptions of "white horses"?). The letter writer highlights one aspect of NSmen's obligations many overlook: the years of reservist training after their 2-year full-time NS obligations.

Many Singaporean males will face the same problems Mr Lim highlights - foreginers/PRs have the edge when compared to the reservist-obliged: no disruption/loss of productivity, lower pay, etc.., resourcefulness and hard work being equal. Any practical businessman/employer will have no problem whom to employ, Mr Lim notwithstanding.

Perhaps we can look at some of the other countries\' NS models we can adapt? I know of young Frenchmen doing their so-called "national service" by being posted here as trainees in the French bank Societe Generale\'s ("SG") branch here. I am not sure what salaries/packages they were entitled but one thing I am sure is that they did not get the miserly S$300 per month salary as a recruit in the Singapore Armed Forces, whether he is a graduate or not.

At least, these French national servicemen ended up with some very valuable experience while doing their NS. What about our very own NSmen? They are more like slaves, or maids in present Singapore who earn more than these NSmen, if you ask my opinion.

At least these maids can pick up some valuable experience or savings when they finish their 2-year contract and put them to good use when they return to their homeland. NSmen? Nothing to crow about but what's worse, more "slavery" years doing reservist training.

Not only do they not earn valuable experience relevant to the working world, their reservist obligations are actually hampering their careers!! It is high time the government reviews Singapore's NS Act to ensure it keeps up with the times.

Possible considerations include:

1. Shorten the 2-year full time NS?

2. Shorten the reservist cycle?

3. Or even a professional army? I am sure there is no shortage of takers from China and or India with promise of PRs /citizenship, even if the pay is low by Singapore's standards but high or acceptable for them? Or even our own citizens if the pay is commensurate with the private sector?

4. Revise salaries to be commensurate with the private sector (eg Poly grads to be paid salaries their female cohorts earn?) with "additional" budget from the increased salaries to be partly funded by a progressive "security tax" where the rich and better off residents pay higher tax since they have vested interest that Singapore remains safe and secure, such security provided by our NSmen? (Credit to suggestions taken from Mr Wang and other forummers in Sammyboy Coffee Shop Talk).

Alternatively, a combination of the above may result in shorter NS cycles for the citizens (perhaps the 6 months for basic training like Malaysia's model) or whatever.



  • what else can we do? go be an FT in some other country loh.

    By Blogger Monarchist, at 5:38 PM  

  • I see only Solution 1 is possible, the others involve shelving out or spending more money so that's a no no for the mister balance-the-budget up there.

    Likewise reservist cycles should and WILL be shortened since it makes sense weighing the cost of "defence needs" vs real monetary costs shleved out to reservists and also social costs. The PAP govt will face a backlash like a tidal wave as more foreigners arrives and Sporean men's competitiveness in the work place is eroded.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:31 PM  

  • Military Service is strongly necessary. however, i share your view that it should be shortened. in most of the foreign countries with mandatory military service, their requirement is around 5 to 16 months, which i think is more than enough. national service consist of around 3 months of training, then the servicemen is given the rank of private and 'waste' the remaining 1 and half year. i think this article should be posted to the MPs and hope they will take your suggestion into consideration

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:17 PM  

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