Goodies a token of recognition for priceless sacrifice: Mindef

Soldiers marching at the Singapore Armed Forces’ first integrated military parade held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform on April 12, 2014.
Soldiers marching at the Singapore Armed Forces’ first integrated military parade held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform on April 12, 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

More than one million men who have performed their national service (NS) and those who will do so this year will each get $100 in vouchers, which they can use at retail and food and beverage outlets.

The vouchers are part of a recognition package to mark 50 years of NS.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef), which announced the goodies yesterday, said the token of recognition can never repay servicemen for sacrifices made in serving the nation.

Mindef's director of manpower Lee Chung Wei said focusing on the dollar value of the vouchers and other initiatives rolled out this year to celebrate NS "cheapens" the institution. He said: "NS is priceless - you can't put a dollar value to it... If you focus on a dollar value, you are actually cheapening NS."

He was speaking to reporters at a media briefing last Thursday, ahead of yesterday's announcement.

The NS50 vouchers are funded by Mindef and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and not retailers and merchants, said Mindef.

Besides the Singapore Armed Forces, national servicemen are also enlisted into the Home Team, where they serve in the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Mr Lee said: "What we want to achieve this year is for the community to step forward to show their appreciation, through their own events."

Aug 1 to 10 has been designated NS50 Week, during which there will be activities like an NS50-themed picnic in partnership with Families for Life, a non-profit organisation that promotes resilient families.

 

The Singapore Discovery Centre will run bus tours to sites of NS significance, such as Pasir Laba Camp, where the first batch of officer cadets were commissioned. Organisations and businesses have also planned pledge ceremonies to publicly declare their support for NS.

Retailers that offer NSmen discounts and promotions as part of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day on July 1 will also extend them all the way until NS50 Week ends.

Colonel Clifford Keong, Mindef's head of the National Service Affairs Department, said he was heartened that many initiatives planned are ground-up efforts, with organisations coming forward with ideas. Col Keong said about 250 retailers participated in SAF Day last year, and he is confident more will join this time.

An NS50 portal (NS50.sg) will provide more details. It will also list the participating merchants where the $100 vouchers can be used.

Mr Lee said: "We should not take it lightly that we have achieved 50 years of NS. It is no easy feat and is something to be proud of.

"And it is not just Mindef, but every NSman, their families, their employers... It has required sacrifice and support from all these stakeholders."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Goodies a token of recognition for priceless sacrifice: Mindef'. Print Edition | Subscribe