Photo of NS enlistee from SAF Facebook

Following conscription system of South Korea, the Singapore army finally allowed its conscripts to “express interest” in vocations which they prefer. However, the army reserved the right to allocate vocation wherever they deem fit. It is also unknown if army conscripts can get to choose a 9-to-5 vocation, where they are allowed to serve National Service like a full time job instead of being forced to sleep in the barracks.

Administration positions in the army is largely sought after, as the work is office-bound and servicemen enjoy greater freedom as compared to those in combact. Every year, thousands of recruits feign illnesses and injuries to land themselves the “ideal vocation’, as the only entry requirement for these admin positions is a physical downgrade. A significant percentage of these 9-to-5 clerks work part-time to supplement their NS allowance of S$550. Another “high-demand” vocation is drivers, where a driving license can be obtained for free instead of having to spend over S$2,000 for private driving lessons. The lack of accountability and responsibilities in the Singapore army over recent NS deaths also deterred many recruits and their family members from the combact units.

Low birth rate and the increase in transnational mobility of citizens have caused the Singapore army to receive a record low in recruits. New citizens and Permanent Residents are excused from the conscription but their children will have to serve. However, a legal loophole in Singapore system allowed these children to avoid the bothersome conscription so long they do not hold Singapore citizenship.

National Service in Singapore has also been met with many resistance by local-born Singaporean males, where most of them are now calling for a reduction of NS to a year instead of two. Singaporeans with full time employment often lose employment opportunities as compared to foreigners because of National Service reservist training, which is 14 days a year. Singapore employers are largely unsupportive of National Service but most kept quiet because dissent doesn’t bode well with the authoritarian government.