LOW THIA KHIANG: WILL FOREIGNERS IN SAFVC GAIN THE RESPECT OF TRUE BLUE NSMEN?

By MP for Aljunied GRC, Low Thia Khiang

[Delivered in Committee of Supply on 5 March 2015]

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Madam, the application for SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) opened on 13 October 2014. I would like to ask the Minister for an update on the number of applications received and accepted so far, and the estimated expenditure for the SAFVC in its first year of operation.

I would also like to know whether deploying volunteers alongside our NSF, NSmen and regulars post security risks for SAF? Will the security vetting be sufficiently thorough especially with regards to the period of time when the applicants resided outside Singapore?

Volunteers need only to do 2 weeks BMT, 7 days qualification course training, and are liable to be called up for 7 days a year. Will the reduced training time be sufficient? Will it cause grievance for our NSmen? For example, the length of training that is required for a security trooper should be the same regardless of whether it is performed by a volunteer or an NSmen. Otherwise our NSmen will wonder why they needed to spend more time training for the same role or is every part of the training really necessary.

The issue of equity in treatment between volunteers and NSmen is especially important. Volunteers are subject to a different rank structure but how they are treated in camp must commensurate with their training and experience. Our NSmen are not going to take lightly to a volunteer ‘legal specialist staff’ (ie a lawyer) being treated in camp as if he is a fully trained SAF officer or a ‘medical trainer’ who has not gone through the usual medical officers’ courses being treated like any other MO in camp.

If the government sees the SAFVC as a way of getting first generation PRs and citizens to play a part in the military defence of Singapore, it is important that the government pays attention to these issues.

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