What is National Service?

Many will simply brush it off as wasting two years in uniform. Many see it as a necessary chore. What does the govt think of the NS men, some digits to be used to fill the needs of the armed forces? Some cheap labour that the citizens must return to the state on demand? Something to be taken for granted from the people they called citizens? OCT Clifton Lam Jia Hao did not don the uniform to waste 2 years with the Air Force. He gave his life, his everything. His parents/family gave up their hopes, their future and their precious son. Fortunately they have two more sons. For many parents with a single child, in such a situation they will have to look towards the Medisave and CPF Life for their retirement support. And that's the end of their life journey. There is no one else to carry on, to inherit whatever material possessions and their memories of life. With the death of their sons, everything is no more. NS means a lot of sacrifices on the part of the citizens. This must not be taken for granted. The citizens have a bigger right and say of what this country should be and what this country meant to them. They must not be treated less well off than non citizens.


Anonymous said...

In NS, you buy your own insurance and this speaks how much the government is doing for you for service to the nation.

Anonymous said...

To add insult to injury, they are asking NS men to donate their annual premium rebates to the SAF benovalent fund. Imagine asking NS men to buy their own accident insurance while the government does nothing about covering them during NS, and asking them to give up the premium rebates to the SAF benovalent fund! It is just like 'Tua Pek Kong Temple' donating rice to the poor and the PAP gets the credit.

Anonymous said...

To Have to Serve and yet we are expecting not to be treate any less then any foreigner/PR is such a pathegic state of affairs isnt it?
Having to buy own insurance adds insult to injury.
How long must this go on before Equtiy is retored? The situation continues to be tipped in favour of the visiting arbitragers of our system instilled by no less then a government trying to cover their Failed Human Engineering in the 70's that resulted in a 'shortage' of labour (skilled & unskilled).
Who are we protecting when 60% of new jobs created go to foriegners !

Anonymous said...

there is nothing fortunate about his passing. Other than that, yes, i agree with what you say.

redbean said...

no i never meant that his passing was fortunate. i was referring to his parents having two more sons to fall back on. if he was the only son, you can imagine how bad it would be. it is like losing all their future. no more future.

ns is a big sacrifice by everyone singaporean and no one should belittle this contribution. the country owes every singaporean a debt through ns.

Anonymous said...

Yes their contribution is a great sacrifice in terms of 2 wasted years, a miserable allowance, and the opportunity cost of earning a living. But some people are claiming that becoming a minister is a greater sacrifice so they have to be highly compensated in order to undertake this mission. And they never have to loose their lives. Who is sacrificing more?

redbean said...

i think the ministers sacrificed more. they could earn several millions more by working in the private sector. now they earn less and more responsibilities.

given a choice they will all go to the private sector. singaporeans must appreciate their sacrifices.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> Many will simply brush it off as wasting two years in uniform. <

No. Pure and simple: Conscription is a form of Slavery.

The reason for this is because the state FORCES male youth to "serve" the country by "defending" it.

The irony is this: the country's freedom from invasion is defended by conscripts, but who defends the freedom of the conscripts?

Therefore it is your RIGHT not to do NS. Any parent worth his/her salt will do whatever it takes to aid the male child in DODGING NS, if he or any parent doesn't want the child to "serve".

One is not to be intimidated by the yammerings of politicians and civil servants who'll tell you it is your "duty" to "serve the nation".

Bullshit. Any form of "duty" should be given VOLUNTARILY, because if your are forced to "be dutiful" you are nothing more than a slave.


And bollocks to those who'd try to intimidate you. It takes COURAGE to stand up to the state, so you can respond (if you're even bothered to) to any accusations of "cowardice" by reminding your detractors that you are indeed showing REAL BRAVERY, and individual enterprise.

Anonymous said...

"Fortunately, they have two more sons".

As far as the family is concerned, whether they have two more or one hundred more sons, this unwarranted sudden death of a precious son is NEVER A FORTUNATE incident!

Matilah_Singapura said...

To bury (or cremate) a child is probably the most devastating thing unfortunate parents have to do.

It's bad enough that young people lose their lives by their own hands -- dangerous activities like drugs, unsafe road use, taking silly risks -- or by just bad luck -- accidents, aggresive incurable disease etc.

However to DIE because the child was FORCED into activities by institutions and parties he is forced to associate with, and obey without question reeks of injustice, immorality and plain and simple acts of cruelty toward human beings.

redbean said...

agree, the loss of this young man, or any young man to any family, is a very devastating blow and cannot be fortunate.

as for the view that matilah is pushing, do away ns, can we afford to? ns is the cheapest form of maintaining a standing armed forces to prevent ourselves from being colonised. and it is so easy if we do not have the soldiers to stand up to defend the country.

the sad thing is that we may be losing our country without knowing that it is happening, and losing it willingly.

Anonymous said...

Clifton Lam was a pilot trainee. He was a regular, 10 yrs contract. He aspires to be a millitary plt for the nxt 10+ yrs. He did not waste his 2yrs of NS.He was commissioned as 2LT aft his death. At least he died as a plt. RIP.

If you are using his death as a stand against conscription, be ashamed of yourself.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Well, I wasn't aware that he was a regular.

Nonetheless, I stand behind my opinion on conscription, and by the way, just to burst your attempt at a cheap-brownie-shot at me, there have been many NS men killed in training over the years. Then of course there is the issue of suicide.

I could admonish your for supporting a form of slavery (i.e. conscription), but I am not going to.

To redbean:

If no one will defend the country VOLUNTARILY (because they obviously don't care), then where is the morality in justifying FORCING people to defend the country they ought to be willing to defend in the first place?

Conscripts are hopeless in war. Most of them get killed because they are forced to into a stituation they'd rather not be in. The majority of professional soldiers agree: they'd rather not have conscript on the battlefield because of unpredictable behaviour amongst conscripts which could endanger the lives of others.

Just to counter any mention of Israel -- that situation is different. For one thing: IDENTITY. The identity of an Israeli is a complex and very strong factor. Being Israeli encompasses religion, politics, land-ownership, individual and territorial sovereignty etc. Singaporeans don't even come close because they are not under the same constant threat. BTW I still disagree with conscription even in the Israeli context.

redbean said...

clifton may not be a ns man. he started as one. but that is not the issue. the issue is that every ns man can die during his conscription. when he dies, he loses 60 years of his life to the state.

that is the ultimate sacrifice of all singaporean families. people lose sons, grandsons, brothers, husbands, nephews etc.

to matilah,

other than being sheeple, at this point, many singaporeans will still stand up to defend this piece of rock and have accepted ns as a part of their life. i hope we don't reach a state when the people start to question what are they defending and sacrificing for?

the nepalis threw out their king when they start to question why.

Matilah_Singapura said...


I used to be one of the S'poreans who would return (even at my own expense) to slaughter anyone who'd try to invade and conquer my country. I would still do so but not to defend the country or the govt but to do whatever it takes to protect my extended family.

The point I am making is that to FORCE people to do NS is unneccesary. There are people (men and women) who would defend their family and friends... and thei peaceful existence, voluntarily.

The wondeful thing about voluntary consent is that it usually comes with conviction -- the conviction that comes from making a choice out of self-interest, rather than being FORCED to choose under threat of punishment.

If people who work for the state and wield the power cannot see that, then my judgement of them is correct: they are out of touch with human nature, and humanity itself. The way they look on their fellow humans is as "things" (objects) that need to be "controlled" by some authority.

That kind of thinking condemns the nation to eventual and total DEATH.



redbean said...

matilah, i agree that the courage, commitment and will of a volunteered force is very powerful. but modern warfare is very sophisticated and people must be trained to use the complicated equipment and how to fight a war. this cannot be done overnight.

the best solution is a well paid citizen army, without compulsory conscription. if this is possible.

PanzerGrenadier said...

Dear redbean

I share your sentiments. Conscription in Singapore is more about social control than social cohesion.

Duty, honour and country. In the parlance of our hokkien peng forbears, "Can eat meh?" (ai sai jia meh?)

I've written about the unequal tilting of the playing field of being a male citizen in my blog http://military-life.blogspot.com

Majullah Singapura.

redbean said...

hi panzergrenadiar,

welcome to the blog. you have a niche blog on ns. i have just skimmed through and will spend sometime reading them later.

as i have replied to matilah, a modern army is all about technology, sophisticated weapons, systems and organisation. this will not come about over night and would not be cheap. fighting modern warfare requires a lot of well trained and well equipped soldiers.

we cannot afford a regular standing army of reasonable strength without burning our limited resources. unless there is a better way to organise our defence capability, ns is what we have.

the issues is not ns per se but like you pointed out, what is ns turning into. and the next is how to repay the contributions of ns men. and the last thing to expect is for ns contribution to be taken for granted and put at a great disadvantage as a citizen vis a vis a NON CITIZEN. PRs are not citizens. period.

the people deserve the govt it voted to power. i want to add that the people are not dumb and when the govt is not looking after the interests of the people, they will be booted out. it is only a matter of time.

the judge to decide whether the govt is looking after the interests of the people must be the people, not the govt. the govt can claim anything, but it is the people who will have the last say.

Matilah_Singapura said...

I will agree that modern warfare is uses sophisticated technology. But then again, in every age the military has had the best the technology of the day available to them.

And, yes, standing armies don't "occur" overnight.

I have raised the issue before on whether standing armies are nececesary -- I don't believe they are needed in every country. A well armed local militia might be more effective and cheaper. There is no ABSOLUTE case for a standing army (or navy or airforce).

However the idea of standing armies and the sophistication of military technology aside the point you are missing redbean is that young Singapore males are FORCED by the ABSOLUTE POWERS of The State into conscription.

There is never a justifiable moral reason for FORCING any person (non-criminal) to do something against their will.

It is my hope that more parents and young men will rise up against conscription and outrightly REFUSE to serve under threat of punishment.

You have but one life. I am quite certain that there is NO "afterlife". So this is IT. are you going to allow the likes of Lee Kuan Yew & Co to bullshit you in believing that FORCING PEOPLE is the only way to achieve an objective?

I hope not. I hope you are smarter than that and that your moral compass is working better than The State -- which bows to pragmatism -- THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS.

redbean said...


the disorganised masses will always be controlled by the organised mafia, whether they be from the inside or the outside.

the saddest part of asian and african history was when as a people they were disorganised. and they were helpless when confronted by organised gangs from europe. that's when they were colonised. the whole of africa, middle east, india, china, and southeast asia with very little exceptions, not due to their disorganised strength.

the day when singapore is unarmed and disorganised, the day we will be colonised or taken over. there is no magnanimity from the conqueror. the japanese used to tell the chinese right in the face in the days of gunboat diplomacy, that china deserved to be invaded and conquered because it was simply disorganised and weak.

can there be another model of military organisation that can replace the present one and equally efficient?

conscription is a lesser evil. without ns, our lives could be worst under an external master.

what is a well equipped armed militia? you really know what you are talking about on modern armies? the land, air and sea forces and how to bring the three together to fight a war? just communication and logistics will be enough to cripple the war machine.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Well, I'm just going to have to disagree with you redbean.

To other readers: Spread the word and make up your own mind about National Service.

Be reminded that it is not "immoral" if you refuse to "serve" -- regardless of what shit and lies the over-paid govt fat cats tell you.

Parents: be advised that it is a good idea to get your male children OUT of S'pore before they are called up.

And pay no attention to people like redbean who just talk without any substance, and try to add red-herrings like "the complexity of a modern military" which has no bearing whatsoever on the IMMORALITY of conscription.

When in doubt, just stick ridgidly to the facts. And the fundamental fact is that young men are FORCED to enlist under threat of punishment.

No one disagrees that self-defense -- on every level - from individual to nation -- is a neccessity of modern existence. However, the idea of FORCING young men to PROTECT the nation is an idea that MUST GO AWAY.

In fact, the idea of FORCING people to do things against their (free) will ought to disappear from our modern, supposedly civilised life.

No human being, or institution like The State, which is created by human beings, has the RIGHT (no exceptions) to force -- physically or by way of laws -- another human being to do anything. No human is "above" another in this way. Absolutely no one.

So consider your life very carefully: do you own your own life, or not?