09 May 2022 01:55PM (Updated: 09 May 2022 06:38PM)
SINGAPORE: The “societal cost” of enlisting women into National Service (NS) now will “far outweigh” the benefits, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told Parliament on Monday (May 9).
“Women will be delayed in their entry into the workforce. The immediate effect will be an accentuated decline in the size of our local workforce, and a reduction of household incomes,” he said.
“Even if women are enlisted for non-military National Service roles to augment our healthcare and social services, it may make manpower shortages in other industries worse. Over the long term, it will impose a great cost not only on women themselves, but also on their families, children and spouses and society as a whole.
“Is that cost justified to send a signal or to reverse stereotypes? From the Government’s perspective, no. I think most Singaporeans would say no too, from a security perspective.”
The “primary reason” for enlistment must remain to train a soldier who is able to defend Singapore, and to repel if not defeat an enemy who wants to invade the country, Dr Ng said.
Likewise, he said enlistment in the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) must be based on the national need for homeland security and emergency services.
“It’s very far off from the proposals to enlist women to serve in roles such as caregivers and healthcare workers, or to send a powerful signal of gender equality,” he added.
“These are inadequate justifications or reasons to mandate that someone must suspend individual liberties as a civilian, give up two years of his or her life, and if they do not, they go to jail, as our courts have sentenced NS defaulters.”