Panel studying aspirations of national servicemen

FORUM

SINGAPORE - I agree with Mr Heng Aik Jin ("Good to widen pool of NS leaders"; July 14) that monetary compensation will never adequately reflect the complex relationship between Singapore and its citizen-soldiers, and that more can be done to recognise each national serviceman's contribution through "things that really matter".

As a member of the Committee to Strengthen National Service, I have been actively listening to the wide-ranging views from different segments of our society, and Mr Heng's view does resonate with many full-time and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) I have spoken with.

At a focus group discussion, participants said recognition and appreciation for NS have to come not just from the Government, but also from employers, families and the public.

And I agree that strong support for our national servicemen is part of what keeps them motivated to make personal sacrifices to serve and defend our nation.

Mr Heng's point about the aspirations of national servicemen is another area being looked into by the committee.

During my visits to various Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training facilities, I met recruits who expressed their wish to take on more responsibilities as commanders, so that they can serve to their fullest potential and contribute more to our defence.

There were also NSmen of varying ranks who felt that the skill sets they had acquired through further education or work could help them contribute more during their operationally ready NS. These aspirations will be taken into consideration by the committee and balanced with the SAF's operational needs.

As an NSman myself, I understand the concerns of the NS community and am deeply encouraged by every person who takes time to contribute to the Strengthening NS conversation. The committee will actively examine the feedback and suggestions received.

 -Allan Lim


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