5 pillars of Total Defence

He helped female colleague get NS leave

Mr Goh (left) convinced his company's HR department to grant Ms Giam (right) NS leave when she is called up, so she can return to her squadron for training without taking her annual leave.
Mr Goh (left) convinced his company's HR department to grant Ms Giam (right) NS leave when she is called up, so she can return to her squadron for training without taking her annual leave.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Total Defence campaign was started in 1984 to remind Singaporeans of the roles they play - individually and collectively - in building a strong nation and guarding against threats. Every year, Total Defence Day is observed on Feb 15 - the day Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, during World War II. The five pillars of Total Defence - military defence, civil defence, economic defence, social defence and psychological defence - form an enduring framework which emphasises that everyone can make a difference. The Straits Times looks at how Singaporeans are playing their part in Total Defence.

When he found out that a female employee - a former air force regular - was taking her annual leave in 2013 to return to her squadron for training, Mr Jayson Goh decided to give her a leg-up.

Mr Goh, the managing director of airport operations management at Changi Airport Group, convinced his company's human resources department to grant her national service (NS) leave when she is called up, similar to how male employees are given time off for in-camp training.

A change in HR policy was made in 2014 and, since then, senior associate Amanda Giam, 38, has been able to return to her unit, the 160 Squadron, without taking her own leave.

Ms Giam, who is a master sergeant (NS), left the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) in 2009. She was still keen to serve, and became the RSAF's first female volunteer in 2013.

Mr Goh said that Ms Giam should be given an equal opportunity to serve the nation, and his HR department was receptive to the suggestion.

"The role she is playing as a woman is no less than what a man would do. She went through all the training when she was a regular servicewoman," he added.

"If you believe that when people take their NS seriously, a lot of the skills they learn will develop them into a better individual, the kind of contributions they make at their organisations will be stronger."

Adrian Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'He helped female colleague get NS leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe