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PSP’s take on National Service: Include women and broaden its scope to healthcare skills

Panelist at the PSP webinar Kala Manickam, who served the nation herself, is a strong advocate of National Service for women




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Singapore — In the fourth webinar held by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) on June 17, the panelists once again answered questions from their viewers. One question that was posed revolved around National Service. Specifically, the viewer wanted to know if the party was interested in expanding National Service to include females.

Ms Kala Manickam, who served the nation herself, is a strong advocate of National Service for women. She gave credit to the Singapore Armed Forces for shaping who she is today, and said that she believes that National Service builds up the individual “mentally, physically and emotionally”.

She joked, that the army is also a “fantastic place for slimming” as well.

Ms Kala also shared that the army is where many find their spouses, and through their service, these couples are constantly “growing with their family”.

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Ultimately, Ms Kala said that “army is a fantastic place to develop your discipline [and] develop your intellectual thinking”. The experiences she received from her service such as defence-related operations, is something unique to the force and unattainable elsewhere. The “deep thinking”, “strategic thinking” and “contingency planning” that the army develops, was what allowed Ms Kala to survive and thrive in the “outside world” after her service.

For these reasons, Ms Kala believes that women should perhaps serve at least a year in National Service.

She also stated that with the covid-19 pandemic, more hands are needed for the healthcare sector. With more individuals being part of the National Service (should women serve), more manpower from the army can also be utilised to aid in the pandemic.

Ms Kala added that perhaps those who serve in the army should also be equipped with some nursing skills, to aid in times like the pandemic. While saluting the men in service (those who are in administrative roles) who were tasked to pack masks, she stated that she felt “they could have done more things if they had been actually deployed or trained to develop some nursing related skills where they can contribute to the country”. She gave credit to local comedian Kumar, for coming up with this idea of National Service men contributing to the healthcare sector.

Another panellist shared his thoughts on the issue. Michael Chua gave his view that only a minority of women would want to put on the uniform, but perhaps another form of National Service can be offered in place of the rigorous and physically-demanding nature of the service their male counterparts go through. He agreed that equipping women with healthcare related skills can be part of this service, but there are other ways that women can also partake in some other form of National Service. However, due to the lack of time, he did not elaborate. /TISG


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