21 October 2013

National Service Not For Permanent Residents

Many Singapore citizens believe that permanent residents — not just second generation permanent residents but also younger first generation permanent residents — should be made to serve national service.

Should permanent residents serve NS?

The Case For NS For Permanent Residents
Permanent residents should help defend Singapore:

▪ They enjoy many of privileges, or privileges almost as good as those, usually reserved for citizens.
▪ They enjoy the peace and security provided by the SAF, and the large majority of the SAF's personnel are NSmen or NSF.
▪ The number of permanent residents has increased to the point where one in six residents as at June 2013 are permanent residents.
Permanent residents should be subjected to the same disadvantages that NSmen suffer:
▪ Their careers are delayed by at least two years, possibly longer if they are not called up sufficiently early for full-time NS to enable them to read an overseas university course of studies shortly after their ORD — a not insignificant opportunity cost — because of NS.
▪ They are liable to be called up for reservist in-camp training. Many employers, especially the smaller companies, do not like the disruption that this entails.
▪ They have to pass annual IPPT. Otherwise, they have to undergo remedial training.

NS forces permanent residents to relate and form bonds with citizens.

Permanent residency is a route to citizenship. Why should a naturalised citizen be exempted from NS because of his age, when he could have served his NS when he was a much younger permanent resident?

Singapore is not producing enough babies.

The Case Against NS For Permanent Residents
A permanent resident is not a citizen. Permanent residency simply allows a person to live in the country for an extended period of time, without having to obtain official permission to work here by way of employment passes, work permits etc.

Unlike citizenship, permanent residency may be revoked by the government at any time.

For most permanent residents, Singapore is just a second home, a place to make some money while the going is good, a nice and safe place to live in. Singapore may be almost home, but not quite home. Permanent residents are foreigners, nationals of another country. Their hearts are rooted to their countries, however much they may like to live Singapore.

Very few people, apart from mercenaries, are prepared to fight and possibly die for a country that is not their home. Many permanent residents will flee our shores at the first sign of trouble, and they can because, as nationals of other countries, they can go home. Even Singapore citizens who have the means and the opportunity to flee may flee, and it wouldn't be surprising that there probably are many who will.

We waste valuable resources providing permanent residents with military training.

The SAF may find that the permanent residents, who make up a not insignificant number of its fighting force, may flee just when they are needed, leaving personnel gaps.

If a foreign country wages war on Singapore and its citizens are permanent residents here, will they fight for or against Singapore? If they stay and fight for Singapore, can we trust them? If they flee, will they use the knowledge gained while serving in the SAF in peacetime to the detriment of the SAF and Singapore in a hostile environment?

It is futile and not in Singapore's interest to require permanent residents to serve in the SAF.

On balance, there is no compelling reason to conscript permanent residents, even second generation permanent residents.


1. The author is a Singapore-born citizen who has completed his national service and reservist training obligations.

1 comment:

  1. NS should be only for Citizens.
    NS training should be shortened to 1 year. Call-ups can be more during 2nd year.
    IPPT should be less stringent and RT should not be the only way to motivate ORD personnel. Think of a solution, don't look at me, I don't have million dollar salary.