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Musings

Should New Citizens And Women Serve National Service?

The contention that NS obligations would potentially scare away new citizens is dangerously convenient and unfair for born-and-bred Singaporean males; progressively, it should be made clear that the Singapore citizenship comes with its costs and expectations.

National Service (NS) – with its multitude of personal benefits to servicemen and contributions to the country’s big-picture defence mechanisms – is a noble undertaking; however, given the responsibilities and comparative time expended, it comes as little surprise that feelings of being disadvantaged have gradually surfaced. Beyond the fact that servicemen lag woefully behind their female counterparts in their study and work endeavours – cognisant that a man’s commitment stretches to between ten and twenty years with the inclusion of reservist duties – many have lamented the heavy burden that NS has heaved upon them for the better part of their lives.

Taking into account the aforementioned, a question – to possibly level the playing field – emerges: should new citizens and women serve NS in customised vocations or postings?

Every Singaporean’s Obligation?

The contention that NS obligations would potentially scare away new citizens is dangerously convenient and unfair for born-and-bred Singaporean males; progressively, it should be made clear that the Singapore citizenship comes with its costs and expectations. The heralded concept of the “Total Defence” strategy makes it possible for these individuals to contribute to their society and neighbourhoods in an assortment of ways: for instance, grassroots initiatives would value-add the “Social Defence” component, while participation in community projects would aid in “Civil Defence”. Fulfilment of these productive duties can be made compulsory for them through the stipulation of specific hours over a sustainable period of time.

NS can, and should, evolve beyond the sole military function.

This is especially applicable for young professionals who have the abilities to contribute constructively beyond the economic sphere – an aspect that Singaporean males play a part in too – per se. Taking into consideration the social function of NS and its corresponding benefits in fostering national cohesion, the common experience can also mitigate feelings of possible xenophobia and uncertainties, heighten levels of mutual comprehension and encourage new citizens to develop a sense of rootedness.

This is especially applicable for young professionals who have the abilities to contribute constructively beyond the economic sphere – an aspect that Singaporean males play a part in too – per se.

Women: Negotiating Around The Status Quo?

Engaging women in the military raises a host of complicated ethical and moral issues; they are biologically and physiologically handicapped, and face contentious problems such as sexual harassment, possible pregnancy worries et cetera. There might not be immediate operational needs from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) at the moment, but the length and type of service can be appropriately adjusted to negotiate around limitations and various technicalities, to include administrative, nursing or clerical jobs.

There should be greater empathy and understanding for the sacrifices that servicemen make for the greater good of the country: they struggle to narrow the learning and knowledge gap in the colleges after years of dumbed-down regimentation, and continually seek to increase their financial stability at work. Levelling the playing field in the long-run should be contemplated as a workable option; otherwise, perpetuating sentiments of injustice would cruelly manifest and yield undesirable ramifications.

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About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Should New Citizens And Women Serve National Service?

  1. Uh, can I know what does the “biologically and physiologically handicapped” here means?

    Posted by Jezebella | October 11, 2011, 10:38 am
    • The observation was done on a comparative basis; that is, females are physically – because of biological (based on genes) and physiological (the way body parts and bodies are naturally designed) differences – weaker in comparison to their male counterparts.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | October 11, 2011, 2:31 pm
  2. I disagree. I think a large part of that comes from how we nurture our men and women.

    Men are nurtured and prepared to fit in the roles of protectors, soldiers, while women are nurtured and prepared for the roles of nurturers and homemakers, which gives the impression that women are physically weaker. It’s the same way in how women are taught to be afraid of bugs (e.g. they are icky, they are disgusting), while men are taught not to be afraid (e.g. scared of bugs, what a wimp!).

    But change the landscape to farming communities – women can be as strong, or stronger than men.

    Posted by Jezebella | October 12, 2011, 1:36 pm
  3. Wtf. I’m not being sexist here, but it’s bloody obvious that women are, in general, physically weaker than men. Take for example sports, the realm in which our physical & cognitive abilities are tested to the limits; women & men do not compete against each other. Instead, competitors are divided according to their gender.

    I bet you can’t even name me a single sport in which there is no gender division (i.e. absence of “male” & “female” categories), much less name me one in which women perform better than men.

    I don’t even know why I actually bordered to rebut your ridiculously naive argument…

    Posted by Joel | October 15, 2011, 3:20 pm
    • Really interesting. So ultimately what really should matter in deciding whether or not people should serve NS is how physically fit they are? In that case, I guess all physically weak guys should just stay home while my fit female friends and the fitter guys do NS. Makes sense huh?

      Posted by marasme | October 23, 2011, 4:58 am
  4. We should not be arguing here if our ladies should serve NS. Instead we should be discussing if our new male citizens and PRs should be serving NS!! Don’t divert attention from this sensitive topic. Should give them a chance to protect their investment here.

    Posted by KY | August 4, 2013, 8:39 am
    • They already do serve NS. Policy has been extended to the second generation members of families.

      Of course, unless you are speaking of individuals who obtain PR or citizenship after a particular age of enlistment.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | August 4, 2013, 8:45 am

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  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 10 Oct 2011 « The Singapore Daily - October 10, 2011

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