Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Full-time student doing reservist

(email sent Sep 29, 2009)

Dear Mr Teo,

I refer to Ms XXX’s letter (on behalf of Perm Sec) on XX July, 2009, in response to my email and feedback sent on 12 June, 2009.

I am the second year full-time Masters student who had applied and appealed for deferment from a recent in-camp training (ICT) from XX to XX Sept. Both were unsuccessful, and I have since decided to attend the ICT, which clashed with my studies, research and teaching commitments.

I have also written an email on XX June, which is supposed to be feedback and not any more request for deferment.

There are several questions raised in my XX June email that have not been answered, and I would most appreciate an answer from MINDEF for just one of them.

Now that I have completed 2 and half weeks of ICT, at the expense of my student and teaching assistant commitments, I ask if MINDEF will be able, in return, to pay for my school fees in the event my scholarship expires next August (2010) and I am unable to complete my course and thesis. This scenario will require me to extend my studies by one or half a semester. Is MINDEF willing to express its appreciation for NSmen who pursue higher studies by helping this NSman foot his tuition fees when his scholarship expires?

I have, after all, given my best during my ICT, as I always do and there will always be someone, higher or lower rank, to vouch for that. I have gone beyond my job scope to volunteer for menial work and even helping out my fellow NSman colleagues even though we are not in the same platoon.

Now, I return to my civilian and student life, faced with 2 weeks of readings and research to catch up on. I have papers to mark too.

Will MINDEF pay for 2 and half weeks of my semester fees in Semester One of the academic calendar year 2010/2011?

Is MINDEF willing to do something to make our relationship a lot fairer, and more mutually beneficial?

Aside from the abovementioned question, I would like to take the opportunity to say that, with all due respect, I personally do not support conscription, reservist and MINDEF. But in a country that outlaws conscientious objection, I serve NS because I do not want to be incarcerated and have my private and professional life threatened or destroyed. I serve out of fear, and I serve because I have no choice. Even my wife does not support this. These are all genuine on-the-ground issues and we do not need to use abstract concepts like national defense to silence the Singaporean sufferers who always receive the shorter end of the deal when it comes to reservist.

I appreciate a thoughtful, fair and compassionate gesture from MINDEF with regards to my 2 and a half weeks of commitment at the expense of my studies, research and teaching commitments. I have already endured 2 rounds of non-compassion when my application and appeal for deferment were earlier rejected, but I still served my reservist with 100% commitment.

I look forward to your response.

Ho Chi Sam


Yu-Kym said...

I'm a taxpayer and though I don't like the government handing out money, 2.5 weeks of your semester fees is really kopi money compared to what they fork out as compensation to have 20k-per-month salaried employees in ICT. The least Mindef should do is to treat you as a person and give you a response with an equitable solution.

Sam Ho said...

omg, yes. i know one guy who's got compensated more than 12k for doing his ICT. he shouldn't be serving any more.

raynorgan said...

Apart from the cliche talk on national defense, say on an objective perspective, if all of us are against the idea of conscription, national service and reservist, how is Singapore able to deter possible threats?

How is Singapore able to convince foreign investors that they will be safe if they make a decision to do their businesses here without national service?

I'm supportive of non-conscription, optional national service where only motivated Singaporeans are keen on serving. But like most of us who are well-educated, clothed and fed: people who never had war experiences. How are we adequately prepared to defend our families in case of a national security threat?

Are there any alternatives?

p/s: I do feel that Mindef should compensate you on your school fees though.

Sam Ho said...

we could save up on the obscene amounts of money spent on "national defence" and buy the loyalty of FTs.

the thing is, i don't mind doing my reservist, but not while i'm studying.

Sam Ho said...

well, now that everything is finished, it'll be nice for mindef to give a clear and definite response to that one question, to help with the school fees (in the event i can't finish my course) or not.

it's not a PR issue, but a legitimate issue that affects many others.

there's another thing: if singaporeans really care about the nation, they will be the ones who are proactive in making campaigns (even at the level of civil society) to advocate conscription and reservist. but what are the social, political and economic conditions that make us like that? i mean, aside from "human nature" and other psychological reductionisms, what are the social conditions that lead to Singaporeans becoming less reciprocal to one another and to Singapore?

lots of needy singaporeans in singapore, but help for them is outsourced to private organisations, while the government spends for the economic imperative.

people will more likely care for a system that cares for them.

ggg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ggg said...

how many hours of coursework did have to do when you applied for deferment?
I read in one of your posts that you are a commander, that is probably why they don't let you defer. too important. Strange, you are PES C2L2 yet can be a commander.