SINGAPORE: Former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng wrote in a Feb 22 (Wednesday) Facebook post that the allowances for National Service (NS) should be raised, but added that this increase should not come from general taxpayers.

Instead, he proposed that “a special tax on all female citizens and PRs, as well as all male citizens and PRs who never served NS, be imposed” for the purpose of raising the allowance for National Servicemen.

 

Mr Cheng’s post is in the context of Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam’s (Aljunied GRC) question in Parliament earlier that day that had been addressed to the Minister for Defence.

He asked whether or not consideration had been made toward raising the allowances for full-time National Servicemen at a time of inflationary pressures and rising costs of living.

In answer, Mr Heng Chee How, the Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), said, “The full-time National Servicemen or NSFs receive an allowance to support their basic personal upkeep. The allowance takes into account that lodging, food, clothing, and medical care are provided, given that most NSFs actually stay in camp.

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Mindef regularly reviews and adjusts the allowance. Three adjustments have been made over the last 10 years, with the most recent being in March 2020. Mindef will continue to conduct such regular reviews (on the) allowances.”

However, Mr Giam followed up his question by saying that the most recent review on NS allowances had been nearly three years ago, in March 2020. At present, costs of basic upkeep has risen “significantly” because of the high level of inflation that began in the middle of 2021.

The Aljunied GRC MP then asked if NS allowances could be pegged to “significant increases in the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or the MAS core inflation measure,” which would shorten the lag time between the rise in cost of living expenses and the adjustment to the allowances.

Mr Cheng added in his post, “Food and lodging cannot be counted – it’s mandatory national service. Nobody would choose to stay in barracks and eat in a cookhouse.

National service is a contribution of time and effort

Residents of Singapore who do not do NS are free riding on people who serve NS.

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His proposal has gotten many comments since it was posted, with one netizen even calling it “beyond ridiculous.”

“Whoever implements your idea gonna lose 50% of the votes the next election lol,” another wrote.

However, some seemed to believe that the proposal was a good idea.

  

/TISG

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