I refer to the letter by Xiao Fuchen entitled “NS for adult new citizens not practical” (ST 11 Aug).
I agree with Xiao Fuchen from another angle. If this is made mandatory, very few foreigners will want to take up citizenship, precisely for the reason that it will disrupt their careers and earning power. This is a burden that is now being shouldered by male Singaporeans, who are not given any choice on this matter.
After 44 years of independence and prosperity, I hope that it is time to review the role of national service. Perhaps we should now have a professional army to defend our nation. Already, we are spending a large budget on the purchase of military hardware. The current budget could be re-allocated to allow payment of competitive salaries to career soldiers. Modern defence does not require a large number of infantry soldiers anyway.
If there is still the need to continue with a citizen army, I argue that the citizens serving full time National Service should be paid an adequate allowance, similar to what they would earn in the private sector. They should not be required to shoulder an unfair burden to defend the nation, when citizenships are offered to foreigners without a similar responsibility.
If this increases the defence budget, I suggest that the Government considers adopting the Swiss model which requires residents exempt from the compulsory military service to pay a 3% additional annual income tax, popularly known as the “defence tax”, until the age of 30.
Tan Kin Lian