Last week during the Parliament debate on President’s address, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Alex Yam suggested on Wednesday (28 May) that NS should be expanded beyond just male citizens to include parties such as women and first-generation PRs, if the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) proves successful.
His suggestion echoes several calls by other MPs to involve women in defence of the country.
Mr Yam expressed support for the SAFVC, which will be set up in the middle of next year by MINDEF.
But Mr Yam added that managing volunteers in the Corps may be challenging.
“The training and management of volunteers is difficult enough in the social sector. I believe it will be even more challenging within a regimented organisation,” he said.
The Corps targets those exempt from NS – such as women, first-generation Permanent Residents and new citizens between 18 and 45.
Mr Yam said he sees a great potential in this initiative, for Singaporeans to contribute further toward the “inclusivity of NS as well as address the issue of falling enlistment due to population dynamics in the future”.
Mr Yam also took the opportunity to reiterate the role of the community in Total Defence.
He said it cannot just be a day of celebration, but be a way of life for Singaporeans.
Who is Alex Yam?
The 33-year-old Alex Yam is one of the youngest PAP MPs [Link]. He came up from the PAP grassroots. He started volunteering at the People’s Association when he was as young as 20 years old.
In 2000 just after his ‘A’ level, he was awarded the National Volunteers Award by the Life Insurance Association of Singapore (LIA).
After he came back from his study at the University of Kent in 2005, he joined NUS and worked as an administrative officer for 2 years.
In 2006 at the age of 25, he joined NTUC. Since 2006, he has been serving as the Strategic and Planning Head of the NTUC Youth Lab.
At around 2006, he also became the Secretary for Buona Vista Citizen’s Consultative Committee (CCC). And in 2009, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee in Northwest CDC. He also became a board member of CDAC.
In 2011, at the age of 30, he was invited to participate in the general election as a candidate for PAP and became an MP in Chua Chu Kang GRC which is led by Minister Gan Kim Yong.
The next year, he was further appointed as Deputy Executive Director at PAP HQ [Link]:
HQ statement on the appointment of Mr Alex Yam as PAP HQ Deputy Executive Director
The PAP is pleased to announce that Mr Alex Yam, MP (Chua Chu Kang GRC) will join the PAP HQ as its Deputy Executive Director wef 1 April 2012.
Mr Alex Yam who is Head, Strategies & Planning/Youth Lab at NTUC ARU will continue his work at NTUC and will divide his time between NTUC and PAP HQ.
As Deputy Executive Director at PAP HQ, Mr Yam will help strengthen HQ functions of providing administrative and logistical support to the HQ Exco, the district and branch committees, WW, YP, PPF and Social Media. In addition, he will focus on implementing initiatives in areas such as outreach, feedback ,communications and political education.
During an incident in 2012, involving a Filipino family whose kid kept playing the drums loudly in a block at Yew Tee, MP Yam defended the family. He later wrote on his Facebook page (‘Filipino drumming in HDB: MP Alex Yam seek cooperation of everyone not to let issue become more emotive‘):
“I learnt that the drummer is a special needs student with mild learning disability. To help with his psycho-motor skills, he took up drumming. The family had been made to understand that strict practice timings should be adhered to and additional sound-proofing be done wherever possible. A letter from the principal should also be obtained.
But what happened subsequently took everyone by surprise. Eggs were thrown at the door of the drummer’s flat. Upset this has happened, neighbors on the 5th and 4th floor also got involved.
Soon after, the issue made the blogs and other websites. It has now taken a life of its own almost completely divorced from the original issue, which is highly unfortunate. But I realized that it does give an opportunity to all of us to reflect on an emotive topic.
Let me state categorically that painting the issue as one about foreigners versus locals is highly inappropriate. This issue is clearly about noise disturbance.”