Photo of NS recruit from Facebook

According to a government’s deputy public prosecutor during a court hearing yesterday (Jan 14), completing the government’s primary school education is equivalent to reaping benefits of Singapore citizenship. However, the 6-year primary school education is not free for citizens and that foreigners and permanent residents have equal access. Foreigners and permanent residents are however not required to serve National Service (NS).

The Singapore court was hearing a case where a dual Canadian and Singaporean citizenship man returned to Singapore and was detained for evading National Service. Although the man declared that he intended to renounce the Singapore citizenship and did not receive an identification NRIC number as he left the country before 12, the government’s Central Manpower Base (CMPB) demanded that he enlist for National Service first and serve two years before allowing him to renounce. The 28-year-old man was later charged for NS evasion and now facing a 5-months jail.

2 years National Service is mandated by Singapore law, but it is not applicable for new citizens and permanent residents. Singapore Ministers like Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Minister of State Janil Puthucheary did not serve NS, hence confirming that NS is not a requirement for lucrative political appointments. NS also plays a major inconvenience to Singaporean’s life, as employers discriminate against Singaporeans due to the disruptive yearly reservist training.

The citizenship case also brought light to questions what benefits are there to a Singapore citizenship. Housing prices are exorbitant requiring 25-year mortgage loans, employment have no priority in the city of foreigners, more than 20% of the local university places are reserved for foreign students and a Singapore citizenship holder are subjected to CPF taxes where they never get to withdraw their CPF.

The only respite is that refusing to serve National Service qualifies as asylum seeking overseas, albeit unofficially. One can also minimize the number of NS hours by declaring hard-to-prove medical conditions to get a 9-to-5 five-day work week vocation.