Basic life, personal accident insurance coverage for all NSmen: Dr Ng

Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen speaking to the Singapore troops.
PHOTO: Berita Harian

SINGAPORE - In the lead up to the 50th anniversary of National Service (NS) next year, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) is planning a series of "NS50" activities this year to "show appreciation and recognise the contributions of national servicemen past and present, as well as the wider community".

This was said in an addendum to the President Tony Tan Keng Yam's opening address to Parliament on Friday, that was issued today by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen.

Dr Ng said the Committee to Strengthen NS (CSNS) will continue their implementation efforts by launching initiatives that support NSmen and celebrate key milestones in their lives.

Such efforts include basic life and personal accident insurance coverage for all NSmen, gifts to be given to active NSmen who are newly married or have babies, and gift vouchers for those who perform well during their NS training to enjoy with their families.

To encourage employers and businesses to step up support for their NSman employees, Mindef will also launch the "NS Mark", an accreditation scheme to recognise companies with supportive human resource practices.

Mindef has also invested significant effort into improving the NS experience. Over the past year, half of the 30 recommendations made by the CSNS were implemented.

Enlistment wait-time was reduced to allow more full-time NSmen (NSFs) to enter the workforce or further their studies earlier.

Career fairs were enhanced to include a wider range of companies and institutes of higher learning. NSFs who are interested in a science and engineering career in the SAF could consider the enhanced Science and Engineering Scholarships.

However, the operating environment for Mindef and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is changing rapidly.

"Technologies that used to be the domain of professional militaries are becoming cheaper and easier to obtain and used by less advanced militaries and non-state actors. As our economy and society rely more on technology that allows us to function with ease and efficiency, cyber criminals and attackers have more avenues to disrupt and destabilise Singapore", highlighted Dr Ng.

To guard against the wider range of threats, the SAF will develop new fighting concepts and pursue technological advancements in areas such as unmanned systems and robotics to make the SAF more potent and flexible.

Such technologies have the added benefit of greater precision while using less manpower, enabling the SAF to adapt to a shrinking workforce.

Mindef and the SAF will also develop new capabilities to defend against threats in the cyber domain.