SINGAPORE: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the government is reviewing policies to help Singaporeans serving National Service feel more appreciated. He said it is important for citizens to feel they have benefited from the sacrifice of protecting the nation.
He was speaking to reporters during the Total Defence Day ceremony on Friday. Total Defence Day is commemorated on 15 February as it marks the day Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942.
The Total Defence campaign this year is "Will You Stand With Me?". It aims to encourage Singaporeans to be more civic minded.
Dr Ng stressed total defence is about building the Singaporean core. And as part of total defence, his ministry will examine ways to help Singaporeans feel the country is worth protecting.
Dr Ng also reiterated that foreigners who are not prepared to do National Service should not become permanent residents (PRs).
He said: "If you are not prepared to do national service, don’t become a PR. It’s a very clear message because in our system, if you don’t fulfil your NS liabilities, you just can’t pay a fine. The penalties are very severe and it’s way beyond monetary penalties."
He added that the penalties for PRs who do not fulfil their National Service obligations cannot be monetised.
Dr Ng was responding to MP for Bishan—Toa Payoh GRC Hri Kumar Nair’s proposal of imposing an annual national defence tax on permanent residents and foreigners.
He said: "We are really looking at what are some of our policies that we can help Singaporeans feel that when they do NS, they are being appreciated. Two, that there is some tangible benefits in terms of what they have benefiting.
"So, we are re—looking that, and we have heard Singaporeans loud and clear, and we want to respond to that in positive ways in the course of the next few months."
On Wednesday, Mr Nair had suggested that the "national defence duty" is to sharpen the distinction between Singaporeans and non—citizens.
Earlier, Dr Ng presented prizes to the winners of the annual animation competition.
The winner this year is from Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School.
Their animation portrays what Singaporeans are doing to face the challenges of a rapidly ageing population.
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