Our defence budget 2012 increased from $11.755bil to $12.279bil. In short, it was reported that it's for "higher manpower cost and operational expenses".
What is most surprising is that there was nothing mentioned about paying our conscripts, the Singaporeans sons, better. The true blue Singaporeans who sacrificed their youthful capital, set aside their prime years protecting their country and shelved their educational and career pursuits; Their motto "I shall defend Singapore with my life".
The NS (Amendment) act was passed on 14 March 1967 and batches upon batches of service-proud Singaporeans have walked through the gates of MinDef, selflessly sacrificing for our country.
However, their pay, or should I call 'allowances', were (from Oct 2009, conscripts pay) ranges from S$420 - S$2,020 for recruits to the rank of Captain - http://en.wikipedia.org/
Boys from the age of 18 years old upwards are conscripted to serve and disrupted from their educational pursuits. There is no denial that these are the most productive and active years of youths and for foundation building - the key to future successes.
In today's context, where wars are fought using technology and lesser of foot soldiers, why wouldn't/shouldn't we contemplate
i) shortening NS stint further (Taiwan has done so)
ii) allow all, if not most, who are accepted for tertiary studies to be disrupted from NS and to serve only after they finish their studies (afterall, PRs have a choice whether to serve or not to serve and we are allowing deferment only) and
iii) pay higher allowances than the meagre S$420 - S$2,020; their "defense of Singapore with my life" cannot be any cheaper, imputed nor quantified.
iv) give free transportation to all NS conscripts
v) deployment of professional soldiers in lieu of NS conscripts
Our Singaporean sons are born and bred here and are ready to defend our Motherland, by choice and/or circumstances, unlike fresh immigrants/PRs. Their lives and commitment are no less precious and valued than the pursuit of equivalent-commercial dollars and compensation seeked by the public and private sectors, especially foreign grads seeking jobs here.
When a young life is lost during training or exercise (by accident), no amount of compensation is good enough to the aggrieved family, let alone paltry insurance covers.
Besides, our Singaporean sons are disadvantaged by the appearances of cheap foreign graduates flooding our country. For example, a Malaysian boy, who finishes his SPM and proceed to do a twinning degree to pursue LAW studies would graduate at age 21.
By the time our Singaporean son finishes his Law degree, and pupillage, he will be at least 25 years old or more, His Malaysian cohort who works here will already be a Senior with FOUR years experience!
Is our Singaporean sons adequately compensated for their sacrifices?
Shouldn't we seriously think Singaporean first; for Singaporean by Singaporean?
Let's give our Singaporeans sons a fair starting point and not to be penalized for their selfless sacrifices. if we cannot take care of ourself, who will?
Spare a thought for our Singaporean Sons.
written 18 Feb 12