A recent survey by the Singapore think tank, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), has revealed that Singaporeans’ support for the NS institution — in the form of undergoing and completing NS, or for the remainder of non-NS-liable residents, in the form of unequivocal acknowledgment of its centrality to the Singaporean identity— is an important characteristic of “being Singaporean.”
Under the Singapore Enlistment Act, all male Singapore permanent residents are liable for NS. First-generation adult PRs who are immediately contributing economically to Singapore upon the grant of PR status are generally exempted from NS by the discretionary grace of the Singapore Government. However, second-generation PRs i.e. their young children who become PRs through no merit of their own but merely by virtue of their parents’ contributions, and also because of these young persons’ future potential to contribute to Singapore, are required to serve NS upon reaching the age of 18.
In the IPS survey of 2,000 Singapore citizens, half of whom were local-born Singaporeans and half of them foreign-born (naturalised), IPS found that 69% of locals indicated that Singapore PRs should be made to undergo NS, whereas only 43% of the foreign-born citizens felt that PRs should be made to do so.
This comes on the back of research by MINDEF last November that one-third of NS-liable male PRs deliberately chose to give up their residency status in order to avoid serving the country. According to MINDEF, about 8,800 male PRs enlisted for and served NS over the last five years, while some 4,200 renounced their PR status instead.
Dr. Leong Chan-Hoong, the IPS research fellow who conducted the survey, explained that NS “embodies many of the shared principles Singaporeans deeply cherish”, therefore it is “an enduring source of resentment” among some citizens that the number of NS-deserters is growing.
Commenting on this rising trend of NS-deserters, MINDEF warned that NS-liable PRs who fail to enlist will be treated as defaulters. The Ministry also unequivocally added that PRs who renounce their residency status without serving NS will also face adverse consequences when subsequently applying to study or work in Singapore, or in their future applications to have their PR status reinstated.
In response to this, Singapore company formation specialist Rikvin advises that foreigners looking to set up their companies in Singapore, especially if they were bringing along their families, would be better-placed if they were to view Singapore as a potential home, rather than as a mere transit point. This means that, as contributors and beneficiaries of the economic stability and prosperity of Singapore, foreigners will be in better stead if they consider existing social values, mores and standards instead of discharging their responsibilities as an integral part of the greater Singapore society.