Lively debate on benefits for NSmen

Lively debate on benefits for NSmen
Aware executive director Corinna Lim said that the fundamental problem is the "unfairness of the gendered nature of national service", which is military-centred and imposed only on men. This burden then gives rise to a need to recognise or compensate men for the sacrifices they have made.

A women's rights group's disapproval of an upcoming government package to reward national servicemen (NSmen) with benefits relating to education, health care and housing has sparked off a lively debate.

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) said on Facebook on Thursday that it "disagrees strongly" with any link between support for fundamental needs and an individual's status as an NSman.

The group added that the "military may not be suitable for many people, regardless of their gender", and that military service should be not be held up as the "single gold standard of citizen belonging".

The Facebook posting has generated over 150 comments, and several bloggers have also taken issue with Aware's stance.

In an interview with My Paper yesterday, Aware executive director Corinna Lim said the fundamental problem is the "unfairness of the gendered nature of national service (NS)", which is military-centred and imposed only on men.

This burden then gives rise to a need to recognise or compensate men for the sacrifices they have made, said Ms Lim.

While noting that Aware supports the principle to recognise, support and reward those who serve NS, Ms Lim said that benefits should not be linked to access to basic necessities.

"The state has an equal duty to all members of society to enable access to health care, education and housing on the basis of need, not on the basis of the state's measure of their contributions," Ms Lim said.

Blogger Alvin Lim, who spoke up about Aware's position on his website Alvinology, said it was not clear if by giving NSmen these benefits, others would be worse off.

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