Forum: Aware chief's proposal unlikely to change toxic climate in NS, if it exists

I am writing in response to the article, "Call to review NS to weed out toxic masculinity" (May 25).

Ms Corinna Lim, executive director of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), brought up the concept of "toxic masculinity" and how it is apparently harmful. Unfortunately, no definition of this concept was provided.

While acknowledging that national service (NS) is designed for and has been successful in toughening up the males of this nation (in preparation for war), Ms Lim pointed out that NS brings out the "more negative norms of masculinity", without further elaboration. Perhaps more clarity is in order.

Ms Lim suggested that NS be made gender-neutral. She further suggested that males and females be allowed to opt to serve in total defence areas such as the military, police, civil defence, community or healthcare.

On the face of it, this seems like a good solution. Any call for gender equality must also address the two-year lag that males currently face in their career due to NS.

It is not, however, clear how conscripting women into NS would solve the apparent issue of a toxic environment.

It is very likely that, if people are allowed to opt for military training, a large proportion would be males.

One needs only to look at every country in the world that does not require military conscription to see that the overwhelming majority of soldiers are male.

If, as Ms Lim suggests, military training is the source of "toxic masculinity", her proposed solution is unlikely to solve it.

Brent Lim Zi Jian