ST May 19, 2007
Early NS enlistment for some youth offenders
By Tracy Sua
SOME youths aged between 16 and 18 and likely to get into trouble with the law are being packed off to National Service a little earlier than usual.
Between 10 and 15 such boys have been referred by the year-old Community Court to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for enlistment.
Community Court Judge Bala Reddy said these boys are not in school or may have dropped out of school. They are also not working, so 'the problem arises because they have nothing to do and are just idling'.
Getting them enlisted earlier would therefore bring 'some form of discipline into their lives at an early stage', he added.
He shared this idea with a group of visiting judges at the Regional Judicial Symposium held here last month.
The Community Court, set up to deal with cases involving youth, the mentally disabled and family violence, among other issues of community interest, had approached the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) to ask that it consider its referrals for early enlistment.
Court spokesman Seeto Wei Peng told The Straits Times that youths who are required to be electronically tagged have the tag removed if they are enlisted early.
This is because being a military recruit already entails staying put in camp, at least in the initial stages, and having their movements restricted.
Offenders who have been ordered to stay in a hostel meant for youth probationers may also have their hostel term shortened in lieu of early enlistment.
Mindef's public affairs director Colonel Benedict Lim said that under the Enlistment Act, the majority of male Singaporeans and permanent residents are conscripted from age 18.
But the Voluntary Early Enlistment Scheme (Vees) will take in boys who are over 16, subject to their being medically and physically fit, and their parents' consent for early enlistment.
May 19, 2007
Bala's on a Roll
My ex-boss, Bala Reddy, is getting cleverer and cleverer. This is a good idea.