NSFs, regulars no longer need to surrender civilian ICs when enlisting

The military IC will still be issued to all SAF NSFs and regulars. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Full-time national servicemen (NSFs) and regulars will no longer need to surrender their civilian identity cards (ICs) when enlisting.

From Sunday (May 15), the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) will cease the requirement for NSFs and regulars in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to surrender their ICs for safekeeping for the duration of their service, it said on Monday (May 9).

Currently, upon enlistment in the SAF for national service, NSFs are required to exchange their civilian IC for a military IC, also known as the 11B. Those who choose to work as regulars are also subject to this requirement.

The requirement will also cease for Home Team NSFs, starting from the batch  enlisting on May 17 and 18. 

In a statement, Mindef said the military IC will still be issued to all SAF NSFs and regulars, “as it continues to serve as the primary document to identify themselves as SAF service personnel”.

“SAF personnel will hold both their NRICs and their military ICs going forward,” it added.

The civilian ICs of all serving NSFs and regulars will be returned in phases through their unit manpower officers.

The exercise will be completed by November.

Mindef said NSFs and regulars have been required to surrender their civilian ICs since the introduction of national service in 1967.

“As a new and independent nation without strong military traditions, SAF soldiers carried the military IC instead of a civilian one to remind them of their roles and responsibilities to defend Singapore,” the ministry said.

More than a million male Singaporeans and permanent residents have served their national service over the past 55 years. 

“Singaporeans have accepted national service as a necessary commitment by enlistees to build a strong national defence through the SAF,” said Mindef. 

“We have succeeded in building a military ethos that has been sustained across a few generations.”

The requirement for enlistees to surrender their NRICs was therefore no longer needed, the ministry noted. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will also end the requirement for Home Team NSFs to surrender their ICs for safekeeping.

The ministry already does not retain the civilian ICs of Home Team regulars. 

MHA told The Straits Times that those who are currently serving - about 7,000 NSFs - can expect to receive their ICs in phases over the next two months.

In its statement, Mindef said the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force will continue to issue the national service IC to their NSFs, as it remains the primary document for identifying their NSFs. 

Observers told ST that the move helps improve administrative efficiency but has little impact beyond that.

Mr Ian Li, an associate research fellow from the Military Studies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, also said national service has become an intrinsic part of Singapore’s social fabric. 

The removal of the requirement simply reflects a maturing of the close relationship that SAF already shares with the wider public, he added.

 

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