Senior Minister of State for Finance & Transport Josephine Teo made a statement on Facebook today to clarify what she said at the Reach post-Budget forum recently.
She was reported to have said "NSmen's service for the nation cannot be measured in dollars and cents" which has caused a stir on cyberspace, simply because a woman who did not serve NS, and as a public servant who earns millions of dollars of salary each year is not in the best position to comment on the sacrifices of NSmen.
This is the full-text of the clarification Josephine Teo made today on her Facebook page:
"The #SAF has an important place in our society. Boyfriends, husbands and sons serve alongside brave women who choose to be in the SAF and protect us, watch over us, so that we may sleep better...
My recent comments on National Service appear to have caused a stir. Let me clarify what was said.
At a REACHSingapore post-Budget dialogue, a participant had commented that "it's rubbish" for house-husbands with no recorded income to be paid a NSman service pay (allowance) of the same level as a working NSman. Many in the audience shook their heads in disagreement.
Later on, another participant in his late 40s voiced a different perspective. Having served NS himself, he is proud to be involved in the defense of his home country. He also noted the "service pay (allowance) has increased over time and is much more than when he served as a NSF."
Sensing the disquiet in the room, I shared my view that the contributions of NSmen cannot be valued in monetary terms. What the SAF provides by way of the allowance cannot be used to measure the high levels of their contribution - it cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
... I still recall the time my late grandma cried, when my uncle Peter started serving NS. Then, it became my turn when my then-boyfriend (now husband) went to train overseas. We missed them of course. But it was also the realisation that it's no easy task to keep our homeland safe. This Singapore50 (#SAF50) and any other time, the sacrifices of our NSmen and the support of their families are well-appreciated.
I hope this clarifies. -- Jo Teo"
It is interesting to note the timeframe between the day she made the NSmen remark and the clarification made today. The Nsmen remark was made on 26 February while the clarification was made on 10 March.
On 28 Feb, All Singapore Stuff received a submission from a reader (who requested to be anonymous) who shared his experience as a NSF clerk who dealth with AWOL cases. That submission blasted Josephine Teo for misreading the ground and reflected Singaporeans' unhappiness over PAP MPs' indifference over the pathetic allowances that NSF are getting which were often brushed off as a form of "sacrifice" for the sake of the country, while PAP Ministers themselves are unabashedly drawing millions of dollars of salaries each year. This submission which was first published on All Singapore Stuff has received more than 20,000 Facebook shares since.
While Singaporeans may be glad that Josephine Teo has clarified, some observant Singaporeans may note that she remained muted over the silent removal of news report from Channel NewsAsia & TodayOnline that cited her comment "NSmen's service for the nation cannot be measured in dollars and cents." This was again spotted by our sharp-eyed reader who wrote in to us.
So who instructed CNA and TodayOnline to remove those articles and why did they oblige?