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22 Jan 2019
Ministry of Defense
Suggestion View - 241
Pay an adequate allowance for full time conscripts

I know of a mother, who works as a hawker, to earn income for her family. Her husband passed away. She has 4 children, 3 of whom are still in school.

She depended on her son to help her to manage the hawker stall. The son was called up for full time national service. She has to employ a hawker assistant at a cost of more than $2,000. She is not able to earn enough, after paying the additional cost, to take care of the family.

I believe that this is not the only case. There must be many other families who are in similar situations. They need their adult sons to help to run the family business. They faced financial and other difficulties when their adult sons are conscripted to serve two years in full time national service. 

In past years, I have heard that some conscripts had to be "AWOL", i.e. absent without leave, to help their family to run their business. They had to take time off to help the family to earn the income.

For families in this situation, I suggest that the government should reimburse the family for the cost of employing another person to take over the place of the conscripts. Alternatively, they should exempt these conscripts, based on the need to support the family.

Perhaps it is time for the government to increase the allowance for conscripts to a much higher level. I suggest that the allowance should be $1,500 a month for conscripts. 

If the government find the higher allowance for conscripts to be too costly, they could reduce the duration of the training of the conscripts. Many countries are able to train their conscripts within one year. We should follow this practice. 

I am aware that it will take a longer time to train the officers. I suggest that these officers should be full time regular soldiers. We should not spend too much money and effort in training civilians to be officers.

We have national service for 60 years. It is time to rethink our approach towards national defense. The world and region has changed considerably during this period.

Tan Kin Lian


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