May 12, 2007

See What I Mean?

The young man in the wheelchair is Lawrence Leow. He suffered a tragic incident during his NS training.

Lawrence is now paralysed and he can't talk either. His condition is probably permanent. The Ministry of Defence is "compensating" him with a grand total of $500 per month.

Lawrence, who communicates by using small finger movements to type out words on a digital pad or handphone, wrote: "The $500 is not even enough for me to hire a maid!".

This case illustrates
one of the points I made, back in September 2006. I wrote:
"Singapore forces its young men into military service, which in turn necessarily entails some degree of risk of death or injury. It is bizarre to me that the SAF has no standard insurance plan in place for NSFs. I think that it is only reasonable that the SAF buys life, disability and personal accident insurance for NSFs (at least for those in combat vocations, and for something significantly more than a few thousand dollars). In fact, the coverage should extend to active NSmen as well. As a fringe benefit, NSmen should have the option of continuing with the coverage (and paying for it themselves), when their NS liability is completed."
If you would like to help Lawrence in any way, please click here and contact his friend Edmund Ng.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

A conscript's life is cheap in Singapore.

It is a sad an undeniable fact.

Anonymous said...

ns is fucked

to hell w/ it

Anonymous said...

we have to buy the insurance ourselves with our already pathetic "allowance" from external companies. fair or unfair?

2 years of loss opportunities while foreign talents fill up the space, while our female counterparts gaining the time advantage.
fair or unfair?

$500 a month for a SINGAPOREAN WHO MET WITH AN INCIDENT DURING HIS COURSE OF NATIONAL SERVICE.

our lives are worth peanuts, er no sorry, nuts.

Mr Siu said...

God will punish those sicko PAP ministers who put on fake fronts during GE but is really rotten through and through. How can our own countrymen be exploited in such a way while the pap ministers carry the balls of all the supposed FT? So much for MM Lee's talk on serving the poor and less well-to-do in the society.

LuckySingaporean said...

In a country where you can find 80 year olds cleaning tables for $500, it is no big deal that Lawrence gets only $500.

That is all the help the PAP can afford to give. If they give any more, they will consider it fiscally imprudent.

Anonymous said...

The annual budget allocation for the Ministry of Defence have always been the highest> For NS men permanently disabled whilst at service< rightfully the State should be responsible for their medical cares for life as well as a reasonable monthly sum for his family to look after him> By reasonable< I mean at least a thousand two hundred dollars a month with our present living standard and be adjusted upwards as the standard goes further up! Anything less is sinful!

nec tamen criminosus said...

MINDEF is already saving a lot of money paying below market rates to our NSF, getting them to do the same jobs as regulars would.

Given the "low" accident/death rates of the SAF, I'm quite confident that the actuarial assumptions would not lead to exorbitant insurance premiums.

I'm sure all NSF personnel would welcome having a contribution to a Group Accident and Permanent Disability Plan.

My gut feel is that given the type of payouts projected, this plan is most likely to be profitable.

Since this is such a no-brainer, I wonder why this hasn't been done?

Given our talented ministers, I'm sure this has been considered (and rejected in the past). If this is so, I would like to hear what is the reason behind not doing it.

Anonymous said...

ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING.

Anonymous said...

Take yesterday's news for example, F1 gets front page news while the 2 NSF deaths in Taiwan gets relegated to 3rd page. Well of course the F1 is worth $100 over million says the backdoor minister' How much are 2 NSFs worth? You get the picture.

Yau-ming's blog!! said...

its plain wrong that sporeans who injure themselves in the line of duty go uncared for- 500 is rotten peanut husks.

kai said...

Had this guy gone on to university without incurring that disability, I'm sure he would have earned upwards of at least $2,000/mth. And that's just a conservative estimate.

But hey, it's THE PAP government, what do you expect? Handouts?

I wonder what would happen if Old Lee's grandsons were in the same situation. Probably a lot of officers will be sacked, and even Teo Chee Hean might have to step down.

kai said...

Had this guy gone on to university without incurring that disability, I'm sure he would have earned upwards of at least $2,000/mth. And that's just a conservative estimate.

But hey, it's THE PAP government, what do you expect? Handouts?

I wonder what would happen if Old Lee's grandsons were in the same situation. Probably a lot of officers will be sacked, and even Teo Chee Hean might have to step down.

Old Reservist said...

During NS, when you are fit, you are the decisive force. When you become disabled, you are a burden to the state.

Life is indeed hard, either way.

After hearing what Teo CH said about being "realistic", National Service has become a department of Singapore Inc. It is a sad day for those who have served or serving NS.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Minister of Defence! You have a case to answer here.

Anonymous said...

as i mentioned earlier, they let external companies to plan the group insurance.

it's just that WE, the NSFs have to pay the premiums, not them the almighty u noe who.

LuckySingaporean said...

All of YOU!,

$500 is a reasonable amount if taken in the context of Singapore.

Every year several hundred babies are born in Singapore without congenital health issues. Many parents are saddled with $50K-$100K medical bills which they have to foot because there is no insurance for these babies. Not only that very often one of the parents have to quit their jobs to care for the child. There is no help needs expensive follow up treatment etc. Go talk to parents with children with celebral palsy, autism, congenital heart problems and find out the challenges they have to face.

This is a country that spends $10.6B on defense more than all its neighbors combined but have its poor and old dig the trash for aluminium cans to make ends meet. When the 80 yr old cleaner comes to your table to clean it at the hawker centre. Remember she is paid about $500.

This is a country that spends millions on scholarship that it gives to students in Vietnam, China and India. We have to compete, we have to attract talent ..we are told.

The reality is this, we are not living in the nation of Singapore, we are livin in Singapore Inc. Our Prime Minister is the CEO and the finance minister is the CFO....our GDP is their profit/revenue. Welfare is a dirty word because welfare brings no fiancial returns. Helping needy Singaporeans who provide no economic return makes no sense to our esteemed PAP govt as they put us on the trajectory to top first world country.

During my NS, one of my friend got injured. His was a spinal injury. He couldn't turn his neck and 10 years later he had difficulty walking due to the injury. He has received next to nothing from this govt that reward itself millions for their painful sacrifices. For my friend it is real physical pain for the past few years.

Anonymous said...

Do not know how much NS men killed while in operation are compensated but feel anything less than five hundred thousand dollars is insufficient! There seems a need for transparency with regards to compensation and liability of the Singapore Armed Forces as almost all Singaporeans have to serve NS! Hopefully when they next sit for Parliamentary Debate< this issue will be fully look into!

Anonymous said...

mindefmofos

Anonymous said...

U need to get the media attention esp overseas ones...

sg media kena controlled de.

haiz poor boy.


DUN approach MPs. they are generally useless.

lau min-tsek said...

It is not just NS.

NS/SAF isn't the only one that offers poor compensation to injuries, death or permenant disabilities.

Quite some time back in the news, there was a student from a poor background who was injured representing his school in a sport competition(I think it was football). The school resisted paying for his full medical bills (they paid a small part of it initailly) as it was quite substantial and the principle claimed he has no funds for it and the family was reluctant to seek legal redress (you know lah, poor family, don't want trouble esp fighting the big system). The family was too poor to pay for the full medical bills themselves. The matter dragged on for a long time. I do not know what happened later and the matter should be settled by now.

There was also some accidents involving the fire brigade where our firemen where injured and at least one death that I recall when the Singapore built fire vehicles (the ones that look like a buggy without a roof) had a few accidents (vehicle overturning) due to some flaw in the design (improper balancing of the vehicle as I recall). From what I know, they did receive compensation but it was very little. Someone in the fire brigade should be able to better comment on this.

I think this problem is not just NS. It is the way the civil service -- from NS, to fire service, to education system -- treats people under their care. The system only provides minimum care for you.

I am also unsure if this treatment is uniform throughout the civil service. I have difficulty accepting that the same things would happen to senior leadership figures in the civil service. But then, this last point is purely speculative.

This system, of course, saves the government tons of money in insurance and compensation packages.

The Oriental Express said...

Gosh! This is terrrible!

Why must the government encourage families to have more children? Yet, so little is done to provide fully for the well being of our NS youths?!!

Each time I hear of someone suffering as a result of heat stroke, I think of my poor chow chow, Xiaobai who died from a heat stroke. It was my first time putting Xiaobai with a friend to look after for a few days. I always wished I could turn back the clock and never made that fateful trip to Penang! My pet dog would still be alive today.

NS men must always remember to drink sufficient water all the time. This is even more impertive as the world is getting warmer and warmer!

The government must heed Mr. Wang's advice seriously. My papa has always advised his children never to be arrogant but to always learn and heed advice from others. I hope PAP will do likewise.... always reflect, rethink and see how you can improve .... all the time. Never be afraid to acknowledge your mistakes, Even though I am a successful agent now, there is still so much room for me to improve, relearn and rethink ...all the time. As Emerson had said, "Every man I meet is my superior, in that I learn of him.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why Singapore can have the world's most expensive gahmen ministers, but cannot also have the most expensive NSF soldiers?

Maybe the Singapore generals are also the most highly paid in the world, but the pay scale does not also extend all the way down to the private soldiers.

It is NS for Sinkie slaves and jobs for FTs.

lau min-tsek said...

BTW, there is such a thing a workmen's compensation.

Does it apply to NS?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the recent Taiwan saga would turn out. How much would the 2 surviving but badly soldiers be compensated...

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah. Complain complain complain. Is anyone helping here? ANYONE??

Anonymous said...

It hurts me whenever I heard about news on NS men being seriously injured or sacrifice their young lives. It really makes me feel upset. Although SAF claims that accident is low but if you were to put yourself in the position of the parents, personally I don't think we can accept a single accident.

Anonymous said...

a few years ago, an NSF officer was killed during training. He had a place in Wharton. Think his family received compensation of about 100k.
2 weeks of pay for the defence minister, that is how much your life is worth.

Celestial & Baby G said...

Err..ok.
Now that i have a gal, i won't wanna have a boy... Or if i have a boy, then i will make sure he won't become a Sgporean...hehe
Baby boom? Dan gu gu!

Anonymous said...

If any minister donate a couple of months of his salary, it can support this poor chap for the next 50 years:

50 x 12 x $500 = S$300,000

Anonymous said...

Check this out!

http://toliveisagift.blogspot.com/2007/05/ns-termed-as-dangerous-think-again.html

An SAF Regular said:

"While I fully empathised with Lawrence, i do not see whats wrong with $500 allowance with CSC card."

Mr Wang Says So said...

I already saw that. I had left some comments at that blog, actually. He hasn't published those comments (yet).

Su said...

http://toliveisagift.blogspot.com/2007/05/ns-termed-as-dangerous-think-again.html

Ditto. Left a comment. See whether it's published.

Anonymous said...

How to pay more when Mindef got to pay so many "generals"???

boon said...

Re-reading your Rethinking NS posts reminds me of how much better your posts used to be.

I'm not sure why that is so. Maybe it's because you had more time in your previous job or put more thought into penning your posts. Or maybe your blog has simply become stale by harping on the same, old topics.

ahmad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahmad said...

I sincerely hope they'll do better for the families of the two servicemen killed in the Taiwan fighter crash.

scb said...

Mr Wang< I am a new reader of your blog for I have just learn to use the basic function of the computer> And that is to trawl the internet and post comments< so please keep writing anything< thus far your blogs are interesting and meaningfull though they do composed some elitism< ie they tended to cater to the well educated and maybe well heeled as well> Thank You! yours scb

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thank you, SCB.

Boon, LOL, you sound a bit like my wife. Every year she complains, "You were so romantic last year, what happened to you this year?"

Mr Wang Says So said...

And she has been saying that since our 2nd year of courtship, when we were in law school, LOL.

Defector said...

hey mr wang, thanks for the additions. just so that we belong to two different camps. to each his own.

Defector said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

ok. how do we even validate if what is posted is correct?

My army friends broke(scouts on bikes) their legs and was compansated 10-20k +.

They are still able to walk.

Defector said...

everyone has their stories. who tell the complete ones? Mr Wang told lawerence's story of heat injury without much detail of the how it happens. Its just a line "The young man in the wheelchair is Lawrence Leow. He suffered a tragic incident during his NS training". was it his negligence? or? nevertheless its media's ability influence.

Defector said...

I guess I'm currently keeping my blog close for a while to kill the steam. sorry guys. to much steam isn't good for both side.sorry mr wang for putting this comment here. guess the main bulk of visitors comes from your side.calm down.

Meng Chong said...

Hi Mr Wang and Su

Just checked out the link http://toliveisagift.blogspot.com/2007/05/ns-term.
Looks like the blog author has turned into a private blog.

Cheerio
Meng-Chong

edmwer said...

pay raise in millions to those 'top people' mind u, the highest paid get abt SGD$8K per day

$500/mth compensation for nsf accident victim =/

Anonymous said...

Somehow everyone is complaining.. I don't see anyone saying that they will help Lawerance. typical NATO

Anonymous said...

NS is a waste of time and bloody dangerous!! Agreed. However, if Lawerence's condition is a result of HIS own action and decision to ignore safety, then i don't think you want to use your tax payers money to support him for his own neligence.

Its a good idea to have SAF purchase policy for every servicemen as enhancements to their compensation plan.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Defector probably doesn't know it, but the flood of people going to his blog did not just come from my blog.

His post was also featured on Tomorrow and Intelligent Singaporean.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Somehow everyone is complaining.. I don't see anyone saying that they will help Lawerance."

I am doing something, but not in my capacity as "Mr Wang". So I do not wish to talk about it here.

Celestial & Baby G said...

Somehow everyone is complaining.. I don't see anyone saying that they will help Lawerance. typical NATO

Oh pls..do we need to announce here ? Are you expecting us to say " I will donate my pay to the charity for the next 5 yrs" ????

Anonymous said...

I disagree with boon. I like how Mr Wang writes - intelligent but accessible. He doesn't write to convince you of his point of view but rather invites the reader to make his own; unlike other bloggers who love the sound of their own voice (so to speak) and write essays rather than readable pieces.

Sorry, but Mr Wang is probably the most effective communicator because his posts are definitely a great deal more appealing to a wider range of audiences.

Thanks, Mr Wang. Because of your posts on personal financial planning, I'm going to get started on that to make sure I'm secure in my later years. I'm just stepping into the work industry and I'm quite fortunate to be not assigned to any reservist unit for the past three years. Just need to take annual IPPT and no need to pass. LOL.

Also, because of your posts on emigration I'm all the more convinced to pack it up and leave once I can.

Su said...

Hi Meng-Chong and rest,

Yes, the coward has turned it into a private blog. If he's steadfastly believing in what he posted, why such a reaction?

Now, we will never have an idea on how many comments he had deleted.

Regards,

Mr Wang Says So said...

He is a civil servant. He was probably afraid that the reactions to his blog could lead to some kind of repercussions for his career.

Not saying that this is a rational fear, but then this is Singapore, and you know that people would feel that way.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is a pretty sick country. If you have lived there all your life you won't notice it so much, but I left and came back. Very different perspective.

Power is in the hands of too few. Absolute power may not have corrupted in one sense of the word, but it had skewed their perspectives.

I cry for my country.

Anonymous said...

How come Pte Fan Yao Jin didn't get a posthumous promotion?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

I disagree with the suggestion that there should be compulsory insurance for National Servicemen. Instead, there should just be adequate compensation by the government for such accidents.

Insurance would simply be an attempt to limit the maximum liability of the govenment of Singapore. An example - MINDEF goes to the CEOs the major insurance companies and says I want to budget SGD 75 million over the next 5 years, what kind of an insurance plan can you offer me?

Surely, even the best answer will include a pretty comfortable profit margin for the insurance company? For the government of Singapore and all similar "large corporations", the more logical answer is to self-insure and cut out the "middle man". Which shuold, I think, boil down to a fair compensation plan.

The only reason to use the insurance company is that they should have a more established method of estimating and modelling the risk scenarios. This would at best be an argument to call for a single once-off tender and then subsequently self-insure.

Otherwise, we do have national servicemen from all walks of life, including specialised consultants and insurance professionals, not to mention applied mathematicians etc who could (for 40 days per year) be deployed to develop a model.

Anonymous said...

The situation we are in now is the fruits of what we have done earlier. We gave them a strong mandate to do what they wish to do? No point complaining, action speaks louder. Assert your right properly in next GE.

Anonymous said...

$500 a month. That won't even cover for his taxi rides everywhere. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea how fucked up the NS is. We earned less than banglas and painters, we get charged for the least mistake. Technically we are worst than labourers, and the singapore government make themselves sound so all mighty.

There is so much dirt which they are covering up, which i better not say here if not i might not live the following day.

To sum it up , Fuck you Singapore and everything about it. God you can take your damn country and your PAP elsewhere. Quit Power abusing us people , or ill pk you.

Anonymous said...

I read your article and got really pissed with the people who runs the army. They should read Sun Tze.

Don't expect your soldiers to fight for you if you can't even take care of them.

Han

Kate said...

Now I know why many Singaporean males are just so reserved, upset, angry or even resentful when the topic of NS is brought up.

As a female, can't say I ever knew that NS was this dangerous but thanks for enlightening me on this topic.

Phantom010436 said...

The top men‘s sons are 心肝,normal civilians' sons are 猪肝. Top men son are precious and far from danger,other people son are expensable and expose to danger.

If we die,the top men just put up a show.It is not their son who die,We are just another one of the poor soldiers who risk our life for this country.