Photo of NS recruit from Straits Times Mark Cheong

Following diminishing support for National Service (NS), the Singapore Armed Force (SAF) conducted a weapon presentation ceremony at Syonan Gallery as a propaganda to boost support for NS yesterday (Feb 15).

407 NS conscript recruits from the 2nd Battalion of the Singapore Infantry Regiment (2SIR) are ordered to shout “with my life, sir!” after presented with a SAR-21 assault rifle at the newly-built Syonan Gallery museum.

The weapon presentation ceremony was attended by propaganda minister, Yaacob Ibrahim, from the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI). Minister Yaacob told the NS recruits:

“You should always remember the soldiers of different nationalities and races who had fought together against the Japanese, and be inspired to a deeper sense of purpose and commitment to defending our nation.”

Singapore-born Singaporeans are conscripted to 2 years of military service, ruining their education and employment opportunities. The damage is further amplified by yearly reservist training that disrupts one’s career. During NS, recruits are taught falsified historical half-truths about the war and the founding of Singapore’s independence. NS recruits are taught to bear grudges against Singapore neighbours like Malaysia and Indonesia, and the British – especially blaming the latter for the fall of Singapore during WW2. Malaysia and Indonesia are simulated as enemies and recruits are taught a siege mentality, by drawing reference to Israel and its surrounding Muslim countries. Muslim Singaporeans are discriminated against in NS, and are not allowed to join the air force or navy.

Despite NS losing its relevance in today’s cosmopolitan Singapore where 45% of the workforce are foreigners, the ruling party government is insistent on keeping NS because it subjugates Singaporean males. Singaporean males are highly conforming and taught to fear the Singapore authority from their 2 years under military law. Singapore’s military law is highly political, and online comments by NS personnel are strictly monitored. Blogging is banned for full time NS men (NSFs), and the “offence” will land one jailed in the detention barrack.