Thursday 12 June 2014

Government accepts recommendations to Strengthen NS

Green light for changes to national service
At least one proposal by panel will take effect from next month
By Lee Jian Xuan, The Straits Times, 11 Jun 2014

A RAFT of measures aimed at increasing perks and cutting red tape for national servicemen has been accepted by the Government, with one taking effect next month.

By July, they will no longer need to notify the Defence and Home Affairs ministries if they are going overseas for 14 days or less. Previously, they had to make the notification and provide a destination and contact number for any trip longer than 24 hours.

And by the year end, they will get more money credited into their Medisave accounts to defray medical costs. A total of $6,000 will be disbursed in three tranches during their NS training cycle.

This is on top of the $9,000 that the Government agreed to give servicemen in 2010 as a recognition award for their NS.

In another big change, polytechnic students will have a shorter wait before being drafted. From next year, they will be enlisted in May and August, a month earlier than before. Some 11,000 such students will benefit from this each year. The waiting time of up to four months after graduation has long been a bugbear for students.

These are some of the 30 recommendations by the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) that were given the green light yesterday.

Set up last May, the CSNS, comprising ministers and military top brass, canvassed views from more than 40,000 people via independent surveys, focus group discussions, town hall meetings and Web chats for over a year. It submitted its recommendations to the Government last week.

In accepting them, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "NS is essential for Singapore's progress and prosperity. It protects us from external threats, keeps our homes and families safe and builds lifelong memories and friendships. Our national servicemen serve with pride and honour, and have performed valuable service to Singapore. I express our deep appreciation to all our national servicemen."

He added that "these proposals will strengthen NS for future generations and ensure the defence, safety and security of Singapore".

The CSNS noted earlier that changes had to be made to cater to a new generation of servicemen who had no experience of Singapore's early struggles, and needed different forms of motivation.

Implementing the changes calls for $4.5 billion to be pumped into defence spending over the next decade. Half will go to benefits and schemes to recognise and support servicemen, and the rest to improving military training.

Other changes include setting up a volunteer corps in the Singapore Armed Forces that includes women and permanent residents. It could see its first intake by next year.

Committee member Allan Lim said it had taken a long-term view in its considerations, and that the benefits were fair. "We agreed it's better that we spend the money now, to ensure that our defence is strong in time to come," he said.

Parent Ivy Tan, 52, who works in finance, supports the changes but hopes that her son can benefit from a shorter wait between the completion of NS and the start of his university education - an area the committee is looking at.

Key Recommendations
By Lee Jian Xuan, The Straits Times, 11 Jun 2014

ALL the recommendations made by the Committee to Strengthen National Service have been accepted. Here are some key ones:

- The Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team will hire a total of 1,330 career soldiers as trainers for full-time national servicemen (NSFs).
- Four out of 10 NSFs will be selected as commanders, up from three out of 10 today.
- NSFs' skills and preferences will be considered when they are deployed.

- Women, new citizens and first-generation permanent residents can serve alongside national servicemen in the SAF Volunteer Corps.
They must do a four-week basic military course, and serve up to two weeks a year for a minimum of three years.

They can serve either as operations personnel protecting key installations or specialists using their professional expertise within the armed forces.

- NSmen will get $2,000 more disbursed at three milestones during their NS training cycle. The additional $6,000 will be credited into their Medisave accounts.
- Those who do well in their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) will get an extra $100 incentive.

- NSmen will get a whole year, up from nine months now, to train for and take their IPPT. If they fail, they will also get 12 months to attend remedial training, up from three now.
- NSmen need not register overseas travelling notifications for trips shorter than two weeks.
- Pre-enlistment waiting time cut to four months for 90 per cent of incoming recruits.

No comments:

Post a Comment