//
National Service Survey

The Full-Time National Serviceman: Concerns, Challenges And The Way Forward
A Discourse On National Service In Singapore

Contents Page
Introduction
Survey Methodology
Key Quantitative Findings
Key Qualitative Findings
Present Limitations

Since the inception of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), and the corresponding introduction of conscription in Singapore, National Servicemen Full-time (NSF) – tasked with important roles and responsibilities – have proven to be important components of the organisation. Therefore, cognisant of their personal sacrifices and assorted contributions in the spirit of national defence, it is therefore imperative for a multitude of communication or feedback methodologies to be consistently administered, so that engagement efforts can yield meaningful discourse or improvements.

Objectives

Keeping the aforementioned in mind, an online independent survey was designed with the following objectives.

– Emphasise the importance of engaging with our NSFs;

– Facilitate the Ministry of Defence’s (MINDEF) efforts to gather honest, unaltered perspectives from their NSFs;

– Allow NSF to be cognisant of their rights – without compromising their respective roles, responsibilities or revealing confidential information – to have their views heard and constructively discussed;

– Highlight key concerns suggested by NSFs, and thereafter explore relevant recommendations or solutions;

– Encourage MINDEF to expand the scope and relevance of such surveys, and also recognise the value of increased engagement with NSFs.

Methodology

Responses were gathered exclusively through Google Documents. The survey ran from September 29, 2011 to October 12, 2011. Throughout these two weeks, the survey attracted a total of 259 responses from NSFs in Singapore. While it was intended for the survey to cover both quantitative and qualitative (through the comments box) aspects equally, less-than-satisfactory design of the questions may have compromised the former. An evaluation of the survey methodology will be expounded in the Limitations section of this discourse-report.

Out of the 259 respondents, 150 are men, 81 Specialists (including trainees), and 28 are Officers (including trainees). In addition, 190 are combat-fit personnel, while 69 are not.

Key Quantitative Findings

The relatively low levels of pride could be attributed to the changing mindsets and perceptions held by NSFs, and the result of specific negative experiences during their time in service“. Read the post (here).

Key Quanlitative Findings

– Contemplating The Length Of Service (here).
– NSF Welfare And Benefits (here).
– Leadership Opportunities For Personnel (here).
– Poor Management Of NSFs (here).
– Questioning Effectiveness Of Existing Audit Or Performance Indicators (here).
– Training School Improvements

Present Limitations

Limitations

General Conduct

1. The questions were catered primarily for NSFs in the SAF; therefore, it might not have been entirely applicable for NSFs in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

2. Quantitative questions could have been structured more professionally; at the moment, highlights of the survey came from the spontaneous open-ended replies provided by the NSFs.

In addition, the comparatively small sample size might not be substantial enough for a comprehensive, quantitative reflection-analysis for the survey.

3. An additional profile question could have been added to differentiate between first-year and second-year NSFs.

4. Given that some of the anecdotal expositions are narrative in nature, the events and people alluded to might be anomalies, and unfair – or inaccurate – general representations (unless the perspectives are consistently echoed). A more in-depth approach with NSFs might yield better observations and results.

Specific Questions

1. The question, “what are some concerns that you would like MINDEF to look into”, provided respondents with a laundry list of factors, with no clear purpose. The responses could have been made more significant if respondents were asked to rank the concerns in order of priority.

2. The question, “are existing channels provided by your unit or MINDEF adequate for the articulation of feedback or comments”, might not have been specific or detailed enough. Insufficient explanations were provided on the definitions of what these “existing channels” might consist of.

Online Survey Bias

1. Results might have been affected by online survey bias. In particular, NSFs who deem that there is nothing wrong with the current system (those who are imbued with a greater sense of pride, or believe that existing feedback channels are adequate) would be less likely to participate in the survey.

Recommendations For Survey

1. With regard to the present survey, the SAF and MINDEF can consider expanding the scope of the outreach, after reviewing the existing questions. Questions can be worded more fluently, and the various quantitative aspects can be addressed.

2. Taking into consideration the usefulness of the qualitative responses, the organisations can analyse the validity of these concerns – especially the sentiments that have been repeatedly emphasised by soldiers from different backgrounds – and seek to refine their feedback channels. Poignant points must be given due attention and change should be ushered in if necessary.

Besides the implementation of changes wherever necessary, SAF and MINDEF can contemplate the employment of focus group discussions with NSFs to gather honest feedback about processes.

3. On a broader scale, with the available manpower and resources, SAF and MINDEF can track the progression of different Singaporean men – from varying backgrounds with dissimilar expectations – and get a sense of their perspectives before, during and after NS.

Conducted over a substantial period of time, the study will allow the respective administration to review frameworks more holistically, and address pertinent issues more convincingly.

Advertisements

Discussion

17 thoughts on “National Service Survey

  1. hey jinyao i think the link for poor management needs to be updated i was reading it and it returned a non-existent page ):

    Posted by Howard | March 27, 2012, 12:25 am
    • I made the decision to take it down actually. Some of the views resonated with many, but on hindsight the online platform might not be the best place for the discussion of the considerations. After reading through the opinions and thinking it through, I then made the aforementioned decision.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | March 27, 2012, 6:50 am
  2. Is there any reason why the “Poor Management of NSFs” article has been deleted? I felt it was the strongest article and conveys our feelings very well. Or perhaps it’s them that forced you to take it down?

    Posted by yilx | March 27, 2012, 9:16 am
    • There was no coercion involved, don’t worry.

      You are right to point out that it was the poignant piece; though in retrospect it was certainly not the most constructive (in terms of generating concrete feedback or recommendations). Many of the comments did reflect this concern, and it has been great hearing from multiple perspectives. However, for fear of wider implications that may be beyond my control – after conversing with a few individuals and thinking it through – I have made the article private.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | March 27, 2012, 10:27 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Increasing Channels For Feedback And Discourse (National Service Survey) « guanyinmiao's musings - February 15, 2012

  2. Pingback: Contemplating The Length Of Service (National Service Survey) « guanyinmiao's musings - February 17, 2012

  3. Pingback: The Biggest Problem That Frustrates Singapore’s NSFs « guanyinmiao's musings - February 22, 2012

  4. Pingback: NSF Welfare And Benefits (National Service Survey) « guanyinmiao's musings - February 24, 2012

  5. Pingback: Leadership Opportunities For NSFs (National Service Survey) « guanyinmiao's musings - March 14, 2012

  6. Pingback: Poor Management Of NSFs (National Service Survey) « guanyinmiao's musings - March 21, 2012

  7. Pingback: Existing Audit Or Performance Indicators (National Service Survey) « guanyinmiao's musings - March 26, 2012

  8. Pingback: National Service Survey: A Closure « guanyinmiao's musings - March 26, 2012

  9. Pingback: Deaths Of Singapore’s National Servicemen: Where Do We Go From Here? « guanyinmiao's musings - April 18, 2012

  10. Pingback: National Service In Singapore: How And Why You Should Unsubscribe From Pioneer Magazine « guanyinmiao's musings - June 1, 2012

  11. Pingback: Musings About Writing Online In Singapore « guanyinmiao's musings - September 5, 2012

  12. Pingback: A National Conversation For National Servicemen? « guanyinmiao's musings - September 24, 2012

  13. Pingback: Five Things I’ve Learnt From My Archives | guanyinmiao's musings - November 15, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow guanyinmiao's musings on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,255 other followers

Twitter

%d bloggers like this: