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KURT WEE CHORNG KIEN, PRESIDENT, THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL & MEDIUM ENTERPRISES

Employer support crucial in national defence

Businesses are able to operate here due to the conducive environment for economic activities underpinned by a strong national defence capability.

This is made possible because there is the national service (NS) system ("Relook how NSmen are paid during reservist training"; Dec 27, The Straits Times).

NS has made our boys tough and taught them about teamwork, selflessness and loyalty.

Ensuring a strong national defence is a shared responsibility borne not just by NSmen and the Government, but also by us, their employers and families.

This responsibility does not and should not fluctuate with economic conditions.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) disburses more than 85 per cent of employees' total wages during NS training.

Serving in Mindef's Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence, I see how the Government understands the challenges small- and medium-sized enterprises face when employees attend to NS obligations.

New provisions are continually introduced to allow us and NSmen employees to better balance work and NS commitments.

Measures such as ensuring that our employees are informed in advance of every NS training to allow better control of schedules,have proven helpful.

The "15 per cent premium" of the two to three weeks of an employee's wage is returned to businesses multiplied, in the form of peace and security of our people, assets and livelihood.


CHOW KOK FAI

Cabbies are key to winning customers

Trans-Cab's hefty reduction in rental fees is a desperate measure ("Trans-Cab cuts rental fees in bid to attract cabbies"; The Straits Times, Dec 29).

Grab and Uber have harnessed technology to differentiate their services, so taxi operators are now playing catch-up.

Cabbies remain the bridge between operators and customers. The challenge is now about winning over the hearts of the drivers and, hence, customers.

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Ultimately, support from employers is vital in helping workers discharge duties and balance work and NS commitments.

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