In February, Member for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Hri Kumar Nair proposed a National Defence Duty (tax) on PRs and foreigners.
It is indeed true that non-citizens also benefit from the security that is due in part to those who serve. In recent years, the government had worked on showing recognition to current and ex-servicemen, which I think is good and should continue. Afterall as pointed out by Mr Nair, guys who serve lose out to their female counterparts in many areas such as men entering the market later than their female peers.
The proposed National Service Trust is also not a bad idea because it will ensure that the money will be allocated to benefit the servicemen – by helping those in need, and possibly address some of the inequalities faced by servicemen compared to their female peers who do not serve.
I tend to view this proposal as not being “xenophobic” as some had labelled it to be or even “monetising” NS. I prefer to see it as a system of incentives/recognitions, and penalties in the area of NS. It is a fact that many 18 year old PRs choose the “escape clause” by giving up their residential status, whereas before they do so, they had enjoyed the benefits of stability of the country (which creates conducive environment for other things like economic development and growth). Some other people do receive subsidised education, and yet can skip NS if they choose not to reside here. Some may wonder how is it the case that these people can enjoy and benefit from the stability of Singapore, and yet without the need to cobtribute to it.
This is a rather new topic, and I believe not many MPs raise it before or garner much attention for it.
I like to applaud Mr Nair for having the passion to raise this topic. Even as NS concerns in part to the security of Singapore, certain (including other) issues pertaining to the welfare of servicemen, be it past, current, or future can always get an airing – as long as they do not compromise the security of Singapore. It should not be seen as a taboo subject.
I also applaud Members such as Indejit Singh, Lim Wee Kiat, and Baey Yam Keng who all shared their views on adding on the Mr Nair’s proposal.