Will PAP MP Puthucheary join the new SAF Volunteer Corps?

The Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS), chaired by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, submitted its report to the government today (22 May) after a year of public consultations.

In the report, a number of measures were proposed by the committee to strengthen National Service.

These include establishing an SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) as well as ways to better recognise and show appreciation for the contributions of NSmen.

The committee has proposed setting up an SAF Volunteer Corps including women, new citizens, and first-generation Permanent Residents.

If accepted by the government, the SAF Volunteer Corps could be established as soon as the middle of next year.

Volunteers will go through a 4-week course in basic military skills and values. After that, they can be deployed operationally to support roles such as protecting key installations like Changi Airport and Jurong Island. They can also be deployed as specialists where they can contribute in the the legal, medical, or engineering fields.

If selected, it is expected that they will need to commit 1 to 2 weeks annually for a minimum of 3 years.

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The committee has also suggested enhancing the National Service Recognition Award.

Under the new scheme, NSmen will get an additional $6,000 in their Medisave account for healthcare upon the completion of their reservist duty. This is on top of the $9,000 deposited into their CPF accounts under the existing system. The $6,000 will be distributed at 3 milestones of $2,000 each.

They will also be given a free life and personal accident insurance, to cover their entire serving period.

Other incentives include increasing the IPPT incentives by $100.

Providing an overview of the recommendations at a press conference today, Dr Ng Eng Hen said, “The benefits must never become a monetary transaction for services rendered.”

During the 2011 general election, new PAP candidate Dr Janil Puthucheary, who became a new citizen in 2008, was criticised by Singaporeans for not having served NS. An interview with him was later published by the media:

…As for criticism that he did not serve national service, as he became a Singapore citizen at the age of 35, the paediatrician said he has been in public service: ‘I’ve spent the last 10 years saving kids’ lives.’

It is not known if Dr Puthucheary, a PAP MP and new citizen, will take the lead and show a good example by joining SAFVC when it is established.

As a medical specialist, he can serve as a Medical Officer in a front-line combat unit.

Will he volunteer? Or will he shirk and shy away insisting again that he has done NS by “saving kids’ lives” at KK Hospital?

What do you think?

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