Q: What is the purpose of the SAFVC? How many people are the ministry aiming to attract and how would it be kept sustainable?
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen: This is not an exercise in numbers obviously. Whether it is for the SPF, SCDF or SAF, every year, we have at least 20,000 enlistees and they are adequate from the operations point of view.
(The SAFVC) is to allow an avenue for those who don't have NS obligations to serve. Regarding the numbers who come forward, we will deal with it, see how it is and we will encourage those who feel that they can contribute as volunteers to come forward.
I feel fairly confident that we will be able to hold courses for those who come forward and the experience of the police and SCDF gives us some confidence too.
Q: Has the committee looked at providing incentives or compensation for volunteers?
Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman: It is still early days for us to look at implications for the volunteers. As with national service, the moment they become a volunteer, they will be subjected to similar NS requirements.
Dr Ng: Let me just say that the details of the Volunteer Corps would still have to be worked out.
We feel that this is a virtuous idea that allows expression of those who are not obligated to perform NS to do it.
And we expect that people who come forward won't be looking to do it for the benefits, because there won't be (many).
It is really for people who come forward because they want to defend Singapore and do their part for national service.
Q: How do you balance the need for volunteers to commit to the SAF versus the interests of employers to keep their staff productive?
Dr Maliki: We have had engagements with various employers and we asked them whether they would encourage or welcome the proposal.
Many employers already encourage their employees to take part in these opportunities and they see (the SAFVC) as another one of these.