Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice See Kee Oon have set down new law benchmarks to impose harsher penalties on Singaporeans who default on their national service obligations.

For a start, the harshest penalty of 3 years jail will applied to defaulters who skip their service for 23 years or longer.

The new sentencing benchmarks supersede those set down by the High Court decision last February. The benchmarks were made public today.

Explaining their rulings, the judges stated that the sentences would get harsher with longer periods of defaulting to discourage NS defaulters from waiting longer to return to resolve their offences.

When a NS liable Singaporean defaults for 2 years, the starting point of 2 months jail will be imposed. Each additional year of default would add half a month of jail.

When defaulted for 7 to 10 years, jail terms start at 5 months, with an increase of 1 month for every additional year after.

Those who default for 11 to 16 years start jail sentences at 14 to 22 months jail, followed by 2 months additional for additional year of default.

Jail terms of 24 months to the maximum of 36 months would apply to defaulters of 17 to 23 or more years, the judges said.

The judges noted that the harsher penalties are to reflect the harm inflicted upon Singapore’s armed forces by defaulters, who hurt the morale of the SAF and fellow citizens who make personal sacrifices when called upon to do their duty, and caused growing resentment and loss of public support for national service.

“Each and every member of the Singapore public would then become a victim” if Singapore would not defend itself, they explained.

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