Families matter as much as serving the nation - so operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) should get time off from their annual in-camp training to attend important family functions.
This call came from participants of an all-female focus-group discussion on how to strengthen the commitment to national service. The 22 women said men should be given flexibility to arrange their schedules so they can spend more time with loved ones. They want them to be released from training to attend occasions such as births, deaths and weddings.
Currently, NSmen do not get time off for such events unless they get special permission from superiors. Accounts and administrative executive Cecilia Ho, who has a 27-year-old son, said: "While we recognise that they have train to defend the country, they also have to play their family role and it will be good if they are present during important family events."
The topic of balancing NS commitment and family life was a major issue during the three-hour session at Safra Toa Payoh club on Friday. It was also attended by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, community members, mothers, teachers, and executives. Dr Khor, who sits on the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS), recognised that giving NSmen flexibility for family commitments is a good idea and said that it should be seriously considered as part of a "good human resource practice".