SINGAPORE - When national service was introduced in 1967, its primary purpose was to bolster the defence of Singapore.
Now, a new study has found that many view its main task as being to instil discipline and values into young men.
The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) quizzed 1,251 Singaporeans on what NS meant to them, asking them to grade eight different purposes on a scale of one (not important at all) to six (extremely important).
Instilling discipline and values (mean score 4.9) just edged out national defence (4.86), which the study's authors said showed that NS has become a "social edifice".
"Defence is not any less important," said IPS senior research fellow Leong Chan Hoong, who led the study. "But what used to be peripheral roles of NS are now recognised by many Singaporeans as a major contribution."
The IPS was commissioned to carry out the survey by the high- level panel, the Committee to Strengthen National Service. The survey was carried out between July and last month.
Ninety-eight per cent of respondents agreed that NS is necessary for the defence of the country. The strongest support for NS came from soldiers over 40 who have completed their 13-year training cycles.
Eight out of 10 younger NSmen, aged in their 20s and 30s, believe that women and first- generation permanent residents - who are not required to perform NS - should be allowed to do their part for the country's defence as volunteers.