NS Rumblings on the Rise
By Seah Chiang Nee
17 March 2007
...... With Singaporeans facing growing competition from foreign workers, however, national service has become a strain when bosses pass them over in favour of permanent residents (PRs) because of their “cumbersome” reservist duties.
Singaporean employers who have gone through it are generally more ready to employ reservists, but foreign companies often feel no such responsibility.
They often turn away locals who are still doing reservist duty, preferring to hire foreigners or PRs, who are free of the obligation.
An average of 30,000 foreigners (2006: 57,000) and PRs are accepted every year, and they are not required to serve military service.
This anomaly is causing rumblings among NS men who feel – quite rightly – that the system reduces their ability to compete in the workplace.
Recently, a fresh Singaporean 26-year-old graduate related his interview at a foreign-owned fabrication plant here.
The first question the Taiwanese manager asked him was: “I see you are a Singaporean. Do you need to go back to serve NS every year?”
When he replied that he had to report back for in-camp training every year, the manager reacted negatively, observing that reservists who failed fitness tests would need to train until they passed.
He also mentioned frequent absence of employees who had to attend occasional military meetings, which disrupted workflow.
“If every Singaporean needs to do all this, then I’d rather not hire you all then. Every year you all have to take long periods of absence for NS and no work is done,” he added.
The Singaporean didn’t get the job.
“Singaporean males are going to suffer from this influx of foreign talents. We don’t have an even ground to compete on!” he complained.
The government appealed to employers not to discriminate against reservists, but it in many cases, it has fallen on deaf ears.
The logic of appeals borders on the absurd, remarked a blogger.
“Why should a business entity which has to earn a profit for shareholders support an obligation imposed on Singaporean males?”
Mar 18, 2007
One for Mr Wang's Files
Not much to say about this topic that I haven't already said before. I'm just preserving the excerpt below, from a STAR article, for my own records: