Advisory council to support NS sees 17 new appointments

Ms Samantha Ng spearheaded an initiative dubbed the NS55 Fitness Challenge to mark the 55th year of National Service. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - To mark 55 years of National Service, Ms Samantha Ng got 2,400 participants from all corners of society to walk more than 550 million steps in support of national servicemen.

Accomplished over May and June, it was more than 10 times the target set as part of NS55 Fitness Challenge, an initiative she led while serving on the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (Accord).

Accord was set up in 1984 to increase support for NS and Total Defence by involving the broader community.

Now, Ms Ng, 33, who is head of corporate communications at food delivery technology firm Foodpanda, is set to renew her term at Accord for a second two years ending 2024.

She is one of more than 50 members who start from Aug 25 on the main council and three sub-councils representing employers and businesses, families and the community, and educational institutions.

Among them are 17 new members welcomed into the fold on Saturday (July 23) at the Appreciation and Appointment Ceremony for Accord, during which Accord co-chairmen Heng Chee How and Zaqy Mohamad - who are both Senior Ministers of State for Defence - also expressed their appreciation to 36 current members who will be stepping down on Aug 24.

At the event at the Marina Bay floating platform, Mr Heng said Accord's three sub-councils had served with great dedication despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For instance, members of the sub-council for educational institutions piloted online NS information sharing sessions for students in polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education last year to help them better prepare for full-time NS.

This reached more than 1,150 participants, with more than nine in 10 reporting feeling better prepared for NS as a result, he said.

"None of (these initiatives) have happened automatically; all of these happened only because of the commitment of the members of the three councils - not only in coming up with the ideas, but also working very tightly together to see to the implementation to secure those results," said Mr Heng.

Meanwhile, Mr Zaqy - who is also Senior Minister of State for Manpower - said Accord is all the more relevant in a world that remains fraught with tension.

"In these times where national security becomes of utmost importance, especially the heightened sensitivities with what is going on in Europe with Ukraine, Russia, and the tensions in the South China Sea... this is where community comes together, Singapore comes together."

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