Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Untold Truths of National Service

We are loyal Singaporeans and we feel the need to serve the country and protect our homeland. By sharing the storeis I am not telling you to not serve our country but how we could improve the current situations.

Let me share with you these stories. It might just let you have a new perspective of the disadvantages Singaporeans face by serving their National Service, Reservist and In-Camp training in their day to day life.

Incident 1.

IT Analyst on contract was on 2 weeks reservist in an IT Firm. He was serving a 6 months contract. After returning from the in-camp training, he was told his contract will not be renewed. When asked why it wasn't renewed as he was hardworking and fulfilled all job tasks on time, his IT Manager who is a Chinese National told him that he would rather hire more China or Indian Nationals as they have no 'down time'. This is getting increasingly rampant in many organizations where Non-Singaporean hold Management positions.

Incident 2.

One of my students, J.L. is a male nurse. Like many Singaporeans, he likes to start his own family and own a flat. He realized he could not afford to do that due to his family commitments. He works from 8.30 to 4.30pm in a local hospital. To supplement his income, he decides to take on a second job as a security guard on 2-3 week nights, working from 6pm to 6am.

Like many Singaporeans, he served his two weeks reservist and one day after returning from his reservist, he was told not to come back for work. Hence, he had to source for another job.

Incident 3

Lawrence Leow was a bright young kid. He was very active in school and was pretty diligent in his studies. He was studying in Anderson Junior College. Disaster struck when he was serving his National Service.

Lawrence had suffered heat stroke during his National Service. What happened next was a shock to many of his friends and family. Due to the heat stroke suffered during National Service training, Lawrence was paralyzed in most of his body. He also suffered inflammation and infection in his wind pipe. That resulted in having an operation to have a opening at his throat.

Lawrence could not eat on his own and had limited mobility. He could only type using a small digital pad or sms to communicate his thoughts. He was in no position to take care of himself. As he can't speak, he could only capture your attention by breathing deeply. Yes, it does sound like Darth Vader breathing with intensity.

I was concerned over his situation so I asked him whether Mindef offered any kind of assistance or compensation to him. I was told they are only paying him $500 a month plus a CSC card. In Lawrence's own words via sms to me, "The $500 is not even enough for me to hire a maid!".

This is sad as it adds on to Lawrence's family burden. During the free internet marketing workshop at HWA, it was his grandfather that had been wheelchairing him all the way from Bukit Batok to the HWA office at Balester. How many more are in the same predicament of Lawrence Leow?

I am asking the following questions to the authorities.

1. At a time when Ministers are giving themselves pre-approved increments of millions of dollars, why is it that the SAF is only compensating peanuts to those who suffered disabilities a meagre $500 a month?

2. Are the National Serviceman promptly covered under the accidental insurance. Isn't NTUC Income the most competitive provider in the market? Are the payouts realistic enough. Should we be looking for better coverage by perhaps opening a tender for insurance and inviting all insurance companies to participate?

P.S. - Anybody who wish to help Lawrence in anyway could contact me. He's struggling even to pay for his internet access.

P.P.S. - For reporters who want to schedule a face to face interview for a more in-depth story, you are welcome to contact me.


Edmund Ng
CEO, President
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