Last month, a MP asked Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen that among the 532,000 Singapore permanent residents (PRs) in 2013, how many served NS and how many decided not to.
Dr Ng replied that the total number of PRs in Singapore in 2013 or in any years is not an appropriate population to base queries or answers on.
“For the simple reason that that number includes people who are not liable for NS. For example, they include female PRs, first generation PRs, male PRs who have already completed their NS and all those who have not reached the age of 18 years to serve full-time NS,” he said.
Instead, Dr Ng would give the numbers of PRs who served and didn’t serve over the past 5 year.
“The majority of NS-liable PRs serve NS,” Dr Ng said.
He added, “Over the past five years, about 7,200 males who had become PRs under the sponsorship of their parents, what we term as 2nd generation PRs who are liable for NS, were enlisted for and served NS.”
“Over the same five-year period, about 2,600 second generation PR males renounced their PR status, prior to serving NS,” he continued.
That is, over the past 5 years, 27% of NS-liable PRs chose to renounce their PR status so as to avoid the need to serve NS.
Dr Ng stressed, “As MINDEF has cautioned, these ex-PRs who have not served their NS, will face serious adverse consequences when they subsequently apply to study or work in Singapore.”
Foreign expats’ sons go for Student Pass instead
Due to the stringent tightening of NS policy especially after the PAP Govt suffered a GRC loss in the last election, foreign expats who are first generation PRs, will now tend not to apply PR for their sons. Their sons are put on student pass so as to avoid NS liability and work or study issues later, as described by Dr Ng.
A good example is former Indian national and now new Singaporean citizen, Raj. During an interview with TOC [Link], Raj revealed that only he in the family has converted to Singaporean citizenship. His wife and daughter remain as PRs and his son is on a student pass.
Raj said that if his son was a PR, he would need to serve NS. He preferred to “let his son decide if he wanted to put his roots down in Singapore or go back to India when he turns 21″.
The benefit of having his son on a student pass is that his son can always work in Singapore later as a “foreign talent” and eventually become a PR himself. He will not be considered a second-generation PR since he was not sponsored by his parents in the first place. A second-generation PR who gives up his PR is barred from working or studying in Singapore as outlined by Dr Ng.
Raj said, “We have friends who are from India as well as Singapore. My kids must grow up knowing their roots and our Indian culture, so we purposely go out of the way to stay connected with our friends from India, especially those from our own hometown.”
“Living and adjusting to so many different races of people is a very big challenge,” he added.
Raj chose to let his children study in the Global Indian International School instead of a local school.
Perhaps the government should consider that when a foreigner apply for PR or Singaporean citizenship, either the whole family gets converted or none, at the time of application. After all, isn’t it true that Singapore’s birthrate is low and we need more Singaporean children?