Issues relating to national service (NS) will now be better targeted and dealt with by industry experts under the recently announced changes to the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (Accord).
Speaking after the restructured Accord's first meeting yesterday, Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing said that the expansion of the council into three sub-groups will allow it to be more focused when working with different groups of the public to strengthen understanding of NS and Total Defence.
For instance, the Employer and Business Council will be looking into how the skills acquired by servicemen during NS may be transferred to the civilian workplace, said Mr Chan.
The two other councils are the Educational Institutions Council, and the Family and Community Council.
Accord was formed in 1984, with its members coming from different segments of society to provide feedback to the Defence Ministry and to generate support for and awareness of NS.
During yesterday's meeting, members discussed extending outreach to raise public awareness on the role of NS and the need for defence.
Ms Elim Chew, founder of fashion chain 77th Street, said that there is no "cookie-cutter" approach in how one can contribute to NS.
"We have to collaborate with the youth who are entering NS to utilise the skills they have and for them to see how they can benefit from it as well," said Ms Chew, who sits on the Educational Institutions Council.
The council also aims to explore ways to strengthen and recognise both the public and servicemen's support for NS and Total Defence, as well as develop new initiatives that address the needs of everyone involved in the country's defence.
Banyan Tree senior vice-president Claire Chiang, who co-chairs the Family and Community Council, says that national service is not simply about enlistment, but being of service to the country by understanding the "ethos" behind NS.
"The community needs opportunities to appreciate and understand how NS isn't about getting it over with to pass on to the next stage of life.
"A lot of families may take NS for granted, but they don't recognise the importance of the work national servicemen perform," said Ms Chiang.
This article was first published on Aug 26, 2014.
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