Mindef to stick with current deferment policy

Mindef to stick with current deferment policy
Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin

SINGAPORE- The Ministry of Defence will, for now, not change its stance of looking at each male athlete's national service deferment appeal on a case-by-case basis.

This is the view of Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, who has been present in Myanmar for the past few days in his capacity as member of the Singapore National Olympic Council executive committee.

He said: "Certainly, members of the public feel as well that more dispensation, more flexibility can be given, but national service (NS) is very much part of a landscape.

"NS is part of who we are in Singapore and as Singaporeans. It's an important institute from a security and defence standpoint."

Agreeing that the requirements of the nation's defence and those of sportsmen may sometimes pull in different directions, he added that the authorities face a constant challenge on how best to accommodate both.

For example, swimmer Joseph Schooling, who shone as the most bemedalled athlete at the Myanmar Games with five golds and one silver, was two months ago granted deferment until 2016.

Pointing out that those in the performing arts, similar to sports, also feel that their craft is akin to serving NS, the minister agreed that both could be seen as a form of NS and are therefore also commendable.

He said: "But from the perspective of meeting our security and defence needs, there's a certain approach that we take and we feel that that's the best way forward for us.

"I'm sure it will evolve with time but that's the way I would look at it, the whole issue of whether we are also serving our NS in different capacities.

"I'm sure they are and we do celebrate that."

Meanwhile, Mr Tan said that he had enjoyed his stay in Myanmar and was especially taken by the hospitality of the hosts.

"The big takeaway for me is the warmth of the people. The hospitality, the kindness of the people," he added.

"As with all Games, I'm sure our Games will be the same, it won't be perfect.

"There will be hiccups and stuff, it's how you deal with them. I have to give full credit to the Myanmar government and the people for really staging a great event."

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