Is there any recourse for national servicemen subjected to abuse?

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By: Kheng-Liang Tan

Netizens have questioned the effectiveness of the SAF counselling hotline.

According to a posting on SAF Confessions – where thoughts are contributed by members of the public then reposted under a veil of anonymity – a conscript shared his abusive experience with his military superior.

SAF

The post said that his superior “loves to carry out acts like making us fall out as late as possible, or say things that are totally unreasonable, and pushing around to do things that makes no sense and losing his temper every single say and time for little to no reason”

The superior then allegedly challenged the confessor to make a complaint to the SAF counselling hotline.

The hotline was understood to have been implemented after the death of second Sergeant Hu Enlai in 2004 during combat survival training.It was then that army investigators reviewed 20,000 lesson plans and training safety regulations to re-assess their safety aspects.

According MINDEF, such feedback is “channelled to the appropriate agencies for their attention and necessary action. Responses are then given to the contributors as soon as possible.”

However, netizens seem to be highly sceptical about the effectiveness of such a scheme.

One netizen Vivus Loh commented that the hotline is “useless” and that “all the shit goes to the NSF who called to complain in the first place”.

Another netizen Dinesh Bora commented that the hotline is “for show” and “your commander.. will mark you after its done”

Besides the feedback hotline, it seems that NSFs are given limited opportunities at voicing out such instances from abusive superiors.

MINDEF advocates that servicemen follow the hierarchical chain of command to file a complaint against the offending parties.

However, such actions may not be effective given possible backlashes from colleagues should one continue staying in the same unit. In addition, a regular servicemen who is a position of command may not want to jeopardise the working relationship with his colleague for the sake of a temporary NSF.

NSFs are also unable to file a complaint with their representative Member of Parliaments as such they would then be liable to be charged for insubordination for not following the chain of command.

What do you think?