NS works when rules apply to all
National service (NS) duties must be applied to all Singapore men fairly and equitably, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) made clear in a statement yesterday, after a court ruling to enhance the punishment of three men who had defaulted on their NS obligations.
"If we allow Singapore citizens who are overseas to avoid NS or to choose when they want to serve NS, we are not being fair to the vast majority of our national servicemen who serve their country dutifully, and the institution of NS will be undermined," said a Mindef spokesman.
The principles were spelt out by then Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean in 2006, following public debate over the punishment meted out to defaulters who evade their NS obligations.
Mr Teo had noted that only about 0.5 per cent of those liable for NS each year fail to register for NS.
An average of 12 NS defaulters a year are charged in court.
On Tuesday, the High Court panel referred to the principles when it allowed the prosecution's appeal for harsher sentences for the three men, one of whom got close to the maximum of three years' jail for completely evading all his obligations.
The court decision was met with approval by parents whose sons are due to enlist.
Mrs Tricia Koh , 46, who has two teenage sons, said: "I feel it's harsh, but it does send a strong message, especially to the parents... Parents have to take responsibility in ensuring that their children know the severity of the situation if they default." - Additional reporting by Abigail Ng