awol from ns, $5000 fine
painist melvyn tan defaulted and ran away from serving national service, and returned after 30 years. he was found guilty and fined $5000. compare this with what a nsman has to go through and sacrificed for his 2-2 1/2 years fulltime service and his reservist liabilities, and the income lost, what message are we telling the people? is there a miscarriage of justice and fair play? the nation demanded by law that all able men served national service. now running away from such a liability deserves only a $5000 fine. it is a precedence that will erode the discipline, value and perception of not serving ns. it is a very attractive price to pay. melvyn tan has achieved fame for singapore. is that a consideration? melvyn tan has suffered for 30 years for not being able to return home? did he really suffered for being away from singapore? we can admire his achievements. we need not lambast him for not doing his national service like all dutiful male citzens. we need not be unkind or rude to him. but he has to pay a price that must be equitable to the sacrifice of other nsmen. otherwise we are unfair to all nsmen, all the several generations of nsmen that have gone through the harsh training to defend the nation. it may not be feasible or practical to expect melvyn tan to go through the same process and regimentation like any young nsmen. rightfully he should be jailed for the maximum of 3 years. that is what the law provides and there is no reason to do otherwise. if he is to be let off lightly, an alternative way must be considered to be seen to be fair to the nation and all nsmen. he could serve time with the music and drama company, full time for at least two years. in this way we are not wasting his talent, but to give him a chance to repay his debt to the nation. we will also tell the future defaulters that no way anyone is going to escape from his responsibilities to the nation. a singaporean male must serve the nation like any other singaporean, with no discrimination of your birth, your race, language or religion, or your talent. for the latter, if the state chooses to use an individual's talent in another way, it is a considered decision of the state, not the choice of an individual.