SINGAPORE: Senior Minister of State for Defence Chan Chun Sing will lead a working group to see how servicemen’s abilities can be maximised in fulfilling their duties.
This group will also look into increasing support for National Service from various groups, such as families, employers, schools, permanent residents, new citizens and the broader community.
Another group, led by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Maliki Osman, will look at issues on recognition and benefits for National Service.
The committee’s goals are to strengthen Singapore, National Service, the Singapore Armed Forces, and to serve all Singaporeans.
It will comprise members with a good appreciation of National Service issues.
The committee’s work should be completed within a year.
Singapore’s Defence Ministry is also setting up a Directorate to review its various systems and safety processes.
Plans for a military—wide safety inspectorate were announced last year, but the government has since elevated its role to cover the entire Defence Ministry.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced the initiatives during the Committee of Supply debate for his ministry.
The Safety and Systems Review Directorate will provide extra eyes needed for Singapore’s Defence Ministry to strengthen its various systems in place. A director will be appointed to head this body.
Dr Ng said: "As a Directorate, it will report directly to the Permanent Secretary of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force. The Directorate will set up external review panels, which will submit recommendations to the Minister for Defence. The first external review panel will be on training safety."
This panel will have experts and professionals from outside the Singapore Armed Forces. It will be a permanent group, evaluating the robustness of the military’s safety standards.
The panel will give recommendations for developing a sustainable safety culture across the armed forces. It will also conduct comprehensive safety systems reviews, periodically.
In addition, more full—time Unit Safety Officers will be appointed to strengthen training safety supervision.
The officers can stop the training should safety processes not be satisfactory.
Colonel (NS) Mohamed Ismail, a member of the Army Safety Review Board, 12th Singapore Infantry Brigade, said: "Safety becomes paramount. At the same time, the outcome of the training must be achieved...
"There should not be a situation where people, as in the commanders, start to focus on ’I want to achieve this kind of percentage of passes’ and push the soldiers beyond (the limit), when he or she realises that there is a potential conflict, or safety is being breached."
The military is also looking at placing experienced family physicians in selected medical centres in the camps to give an added layer of expertise when treating soldiers.
Separately, Dr Ng said the government will also provide a 1:1 matching grant of up to S$2.5 million for contributions to the SAF Care which benefits severely disabled servicemen.
MINDEF also intends to obtain Institution of Public Character status for the Fund, which has already received S$1 million in contributions, mainly through the generosity of The Lee Foundation.
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