So we’ve been hearing all sorts of suggestions on how to “strengthen national service“: more cash-type handouts, priority for education and housing, parades in our honour. Some even suggested a national defence duty for foreigners, or a flexible NS system like Finland has (I love Finland).
It’s all well and good, but the first thing I want for my fellow Singaporeans who have served NS is respect.
I want an end to people who say that “saving babies” can substitute NS. I want to put a gag on PAP groupies on Facebook who sneer on segments of our servicemen. I want to tell lowlifes who demand that NSFs stand in the MRT to “talk to the hand”. I want those people who stand by and criticise the way SCDF servicemen risk their lives fighting fires to hang their heads in shame.
I want respect for all of us, whether we bashed through the jungle or sat in the Police HQ for two years. Whether we were clerks or commando officers. Whether we served with distinction or ate snake whenever we could. Willingly or unwilingly, we gave our lives in service of our nation – we did our time. Respect that.
I would love for it to be illegal to denigrate a man’s service to his nation. I want people to know that there are lines they should not cross when talking about the national service that they didn’t do. If my brothers-in-arms would like to whine about how much they hate NS, I will hear them out (and perhaps rebut them), but criticism from the outside must be respectful and discreet.
There is a portion of military law that makes it an offence to speak or behave in a way that brings disrepute to the Armed Forces (SAF Act Cap.295, I think). How about we have this in force in civil law as well? Any action that disrespects our servicemen courts the wrath of the law. Any NS-belittling douchebaggery will be met with swift recriminations (or at least strongly worded government statements) for the offending individual. We will find you. We will scold you. In public.
Our NS needs to be strong, and that strength will not come primarily from handouts or perks or social benefits. It will come from a high view of the price we have had to pay to keep this nation safe. NS will be strong when NSmen are respected.