I am lucky that I come from a family with ok finances, and didn’t have to worry about putting food on the table, but several of my army mates aren’t so fortunate.
They come from poor families, and were working before they got called up for NS.
One of the Malay guys, let’s call him R, used to work at MacDonald’s as a counter staff.
He came from a single-parent family, and was working to support his mother and two younger siblings.
With National Service, his pay got cut by more than half, and that put a strain on the family finances.
R is just one of the examples of those whose lives have been affected by mandatory national defence scheme which the government has devised.
That’s why I was very upset to read the story on the SCDF NSman who killed himself because he couldn’t take the pressure of family and national duties, because I know people like these personally.
That’s why I was hoping some opposition team would raise the issue of what Josephine Teo said when she said that NSMan’s contributions cannot be measured in “dollars and cents”.
It cannot, yes, but every cent counts for some who are not part of Singapore’s natural aristocracy.
What adds insult to injury is the suggestion that NSmen be deployed for crowd control during MRT breakdowns.
Are you kidding?
Now we’ve really become GIs, or “General Issue”, which in Singapore terms just means “sai kang warriors”.
Come on, if we’re as important to the nation as the government makes us out to be, then pay us a decent wage.
It doesn’t have to be exorbitant, but enough to show that our contributions are valued.
This will also go a long way in helping those called up to feed their families.
The government is already saving much money on recruiting professional soldiers, can’t NSmen get just a little bit more for the 2 years plus that they give to the nation?
It’s hard to stomach that we’re put on a pedestal, and used as a “patriotism-rousing” tool during the National Day parade, only to receive a smaller allowance then cleaners (who as they deserve more than the pittance they are earning).
Entry-level army officers get closeto $4k, the junior officers get about $2k, and NSmen receive an allowance in the region of S$600…?
Again, it’s not about the money but the value placed on us.
The government must show us that it values us by making sure we and our families are taken care of during the time we serve the nation.
When I read about the hundreds of thousands of children of PRs who enjoyed Singapore’s benefits but left Singapore without doing National Service to no punishment except giving up their right to a permanent residency, I wonder what’s the value of our 2 years sacrifice.
Loyalty begets loyalty, and a simple token that you care is enough assurance to make us give up our lives for country.
Don’t treat us like dispensable slaves, here just to satisfy the needs of the aristocracy.
(Ed’s note: The Reform Party has proposed to trim the duration of NS and hire more professional soldiers)
Thank you General Issue for this letter.
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