Government should consider greater flexibility for NS

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) should study how greater flexibility can be introduced into national service so that Singaporeans can fulfil this sacred obligation to the nation while minimising disruption to their academic and professional careers.

While studying at the University of Chicago, I saw how my South Korean schoolmates had the choice of completing their mandatory military service before, during or after their undergraduate studies.

If a nation that is technically still at war with its closest neighbour can allow its citizens to elect when to serve a stint in the military, Singapore can certainly explore whether we can do the same.

While this may introduce new logistical and administrative challenges for Mindef and the Singapore Armed Forces, the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs.

Athletes and musicians will be able to complete their training while they are at their peak and their resultant achievements may well bring glory to the nation.

As Singapore matures as a nation and its citizens are developing themselves in an increasing number of ways, we should consider how institutions such as NS can be adapted and improved to support the diverse personal pursuits of Singaporeans.

Chan Kai Yan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2018, with the headline 'Government should consider greater flexibility for NS'. Print Edition | Subscribe