12 August 2005

A Smaller Lack of Freedom

Here is the big news:
Aug 12, 2005
NS call-ups cut to 10 years
Better technology and bigger pool of 18 year olds over next decade are the reasons
By Goh Chin Lian

IN-CAMP training for operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) will be shortened from 13 years to 10, from next April.

This is the effect:
About 25,000 NSmen, including those in the police and civil defence forces will be affected by the new policy, which was announced by Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

With the change, most Singaporean men, after completing two years of compulsory national service, will finish their NSmen obligations before hitting the age of 35.

Here is the official reason:
The reduction is possible as the Singapore Armed Forces relies more on superior technology and less on having large numbers of people ....

One is the transformation now taking place in the SAF. With better-educated NSmen, it is becoming a 'third-generation' fighting force that is exploiting the full potential of the latest in weapons, equipment and training systems.

The other is the bigger pool of 18-year-olds expected in the next 10 years.
And now Mr Wang will share his insights.

Mr Wang actually -predicted- this reduction in NS liability, many years ago (around 1996 or 1997). Mr Wang correctly predicted that firstly, the length of full-time NS would be cut (this has happened - it was cut from 2.5 years to 2 years), and secondly, the length of NSmen liability would also be cut.

Superior technology, baby booms etc are not the primary reason. Mr Wang predicted that NS liability would be cut because the aging leaders of Singapore and the aging leaders of Malaysia would come to the point when they would have to step aside and make way for new blood.

A new era would arise whereby there would be fresh opportunities for the new leaders of the two nations to leave aside the old animosities and work towards improving relationships between the two nations.

And then the need for a powerful, effective Singapore Armed Forces would wane. The need would still exist, but it would be greatly reduced, and logically lead to Singapore devoting relatively fewer resources towards the military. In turn this would lead to the reduction of NS liability.

The flip angle is that all this shows that for all these past decades, the nation of Singapore has had to spend so much money on the military, and male Singaporeans have had to give up so much of their time for national service -

to a large extent, just because Singapore's old-guard leaders failed to build strong relationships of trust and friendship with Malaysia. Yes, a definite failure.

Of course, you'll never read that in the mainstream media.

"Wah, you Singaporean men are so lucky. I step down,
then you all no need to do NS already."


Huichieh said...

I wouldn't be so hard on the failure to build trust--it's not as if our northern neighbors (especially the old guard) have really been all that friendly. And it's not as if SG has not played the diplomacy card all along--along with all the constraints that will plague the diplomacy of a small country. In any case, the threat environment has changed somewhat with an increasing focus on international (Islamic) terrorism.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...