Sunday, May 27, 2012

Singapore National Service and you. A reminder

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since my last blog post on Singapore’s national service “Singapore National Service Injustice, young men should take to the streets” dated March 7, 2011, I have been receiving numerous queries from both parents and young men who either refuse to do national service or are overseas and worried about returning. Let me restate the consequences of not doing national service or absconding and not returning.

Personally I am happy to note that increasing numbers are trying to avoid it. I consider the Singapore government an authoritarian despotic regime run for the personal benefit of the Lee Ruling Family and not in Singapore island’s interest. Therefore any action taken to undermine this regime, including draft dodging, is welcome as it serves to further weaken the grip of the Lee Ruling Family on the island. Therefore I shall continue to give any advice to anyone in Singapore who is contemplating leaving the island to avoid national service.

The following are the points once again.

1.      If you want to avoid national service in Singapore by leaving the island you should keep this in mind. The good news is, avoiding national service is not an extraditable offence. Therefore once you are overseas, Singapore cannot get you back to punish you. The bad news is, you will never be able to return. If you ever did, they will arrest you and send you to jail.

2.      There are countless Singaporeans out there in the US, Canada and elsewhere who are in these shoes. The only problem they face is the inability to return. For most this should not be a problem since Singapore is only a tiny dot out there. You can go to Malaysia and have more or less the same experience.

3.      I have been asked if you could be put on the Interpol list. Again as this act is not extraditable, Interpol is not involved. No problem on that score.

4.      I am often asked if taking on foreign citizenship can protect you. The answer is no. If they find you in Singapore, no matter what citizenship, they will get you. As long as you stay away from Singapore, you are fine.

5.      Remember, those refusing to do national service in Singapore are indirectly doing the cause of freedom and democracy there great good. The vast majority of young talented Singaporeans caught in this trap abroad are the very ones Singapore badly needs. The majority are college graduates in US, Canada, Australia and other Western countries. As a result of this thoroughly misconceived policy, Singapore is denied their vast amount of expertise. A vast talent pool is simply lost. Moreover they hate Singapore for what it is doing to them, spreading that hatred among anyone they come across. They have become unwittingly a very effective 5th Column working against Lee Ruling Family’s Singapore.

Gopalan Nair
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107 or 510 491 4375


Anonymous said...

The people who wrote you about national service are the people who think how great Singapore is. I have 2 daughters and we gave up all our citizenship even though they were not required to do NS. I thank God for the grace that brought us to Vancouver, Canada. What is the use of having millions or Billions when you are not happy living in a country without any basic freedom. And continue to see your posterity suffers. Wake up guys. There is no future in Singapore. Take your money and run NOW!

Anonymous said...

Would this NS situation change when LKY is gone? Would the thousands of men who chose not to serve NS be allowed to go back without any persecution?

Singapore needs these young men to come back... to work... not to go to jail for some ridiculous law that does NOT exist anywhere else.

Often many of these young men left at a young age and do not feel the obligation to serve NS anymore. Why even penalize them, but not girls?

These policies are just ill suited in this day and age. To those who sing high praises of Singapore, be careful what you do there. It might seem like a clean and nice place to visit, sure... just don't do anything wrong or you will wake up in jail, or sued till you are bankrupt.

Why would Singaporeans allow this PAP government to continue on? Vote them out already.

Anonymous said...

I guess the exception is for 2nd-gen PRs who have to do NS, they can avoid NS and return to Singapore for visits without being arrested. Perhaps will be denied entry though.

Anonymous said...

MOD should actively push for recruiting regulars and reduce the burden on unwilling individuals or those who are medically unfit. Other benefits for local singaporeans may include, free education and tax exemption to those who have 2 children or more. Enlist Chinese from China and offer them citizenship and a 2 bedroom accommodation, thus to spare those who want to pursue other things. Outsource defense.
The immigration policy do bring in sportsmen and women from China, why not get Chinese nationals move at Bahasa Melayu drill commands. It will be a sight to behold.

Anonymous said...

What if PAP falls? Would all the army defaulters go back without being put in jail?

Anonymous said...

@ Gopalan Nair:

You may like to do a search on this MALE Singaporean ஜனில் புதுச்சேரி here: < >.

I wonder if it is any surprise you may find "city, not country" foreign minister காசிவிஸ்வநாதன் சண்முகம் ( கே சண்முகம் ) somewhere in the comments as well.

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear singapore do u think that by forcing all Male citizens to join NS a good option??Singapore should make NS to those who voluteer to join.Because u see no point forcing if the person is unwilling to join.The person will not be giving his 100 percent in serving the country and our country will also not be a happy place because of unwillingness.Boys too are human being we have the rights to pursue our freedoms and not being pulled by the nose and getting forced into NS which apparentely many dislike.come on MINDEF or whoever think about it.For once let singaporeans Male have the freedom to pursue our dreams and lead the life we have planned nicely instead of putting a NS to disrupt our life.Its not very appropriate to force someone into things we do not like. We have listened and followed the PAP for so many years already.For once just listen to us and make NS only for people who volunteer to join.To make a happy country,there must be happy people.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

My son left with me to US because of my job when he is 3 mths old. We have never take a penny from spore Tax payer $ while he reiside and grow up in US.CMPB wants him back by 18 to serve NS. I write to them that I would like my son to finish his undergraduate first. However they insist and reject my request. I am kind of furious at the attitude they have. I raise my son for 17 yrs and the Spore govt have not spend a penny on my son's welfare and they dare to insist I need to send my son when he is 18ys old to serve NS despite I told them that I would send my son to serve when he is 21. I am confuse why they reject this offer? They did mention the policy state....and be fair to everybody but everybody circumstances are diff and worst, I am not avoiding NS, I just want to be delay. Not sure how to deal with this from here.

Anonymous said...

what happen to the parents who remain as Singaporeans and staying in Spore.Dont they post a bond?What happen to their bond or parents CPF?

Anonymous said...

First let me say that what you mentioned is not exactly true...

(1) I left on a 3-month exit permit and a tourist Visa to the USA in 1992. I was 18 years 3 months old and had completed my GCE A levels.

(2) Upon reaching the USA, I became an illegal Alien.

(3) I could not try to apply for refugee status or anything of that sort because I wasn't of legal age -- you have to be 21 years old. So, basically, I let my Visa expire and did not leave.

(4) A few months into it I also enrolled in college -- US law does not require proof of citizenship or residency for college enrollments. They are not required by law to enforce immigration regulations and many colleges don't ask or enrolled you anyway when you tell them that you are an "Undocumented Alien" aka Illegal Alien. Your immigration status is a problem between you and federal government.

(5) I did all of these without the knowledge and support of my parents prior to my departure. When they found out they tried to convince me to come home but my mind was made up.

(6) I supported myself by doing private tutoring, freelance programming and with partial scholarships (I was a straight As "O" and "A" level student and my SAT and achievement test scores were exemplary)

(7) Sometime in 1993 I sent a letter to MINDEF telling them to not bother looking for me at my home or bother my parents. That I "Never asked to be Singaporean, never wanted to be a Singaporean and never considered myself a Singaporean" regardless of what their law said and what they think. That I had always considered myself a Stateless person unwillingly held within their borders, that I have now escaped and will not ever return. Signed & notarized with a photocopy the US entry stamp on my passport and the front page with my face on it.

(8) In retrospect, it was kinda silly to write them and all, but they did stop contacting my parents.

(9) Anyway... eventually I married an American girl in 1999 (a fellow PhD candidate at the time) and got my US PR that way. I became a naturalized US Citizen in 2004.

(10) In September 2011 I returned to Singapore for three weeks when my father was on his deathbed and suffering from terminal metastatic prostate cancer.

(11) I entered the country on my US passport, traveling with my wife and daughter. I was not questioned at all -- even though the stated place of birth on my passport was "SINGAPORE".

(12) It should be noted that the name I have on the Passport is completely unrelated to my Singaporean name. When naturalized as a US Citizen you can put down whatever name you want. You do not have to retain any connection to the name from your former country. I changed both my first and last name with no middle name.

(13) What I can say is that Singapore apparently does not actively screen foreign nationals travel to Singapore as possible NS escapees. They do not have a real time fingerprint matching database either (at least not in 2011).

(14) Later in December 2011 and March 2012 I again entered Singapore for about a week each time for the purposes related to inheritance and other issues that could not be executed via power of attorney. I was never questioned or challenged.

(15) This doesn't mean that they cannot arrest you or that doing what I did makes me somehow immune from prosecution. However, in my experience they won't know, and they don't really care enough to put resources into identifying or prosecuting.

Anonymous said...

"what happen to the parents who remain as Singaporeans and staying in Spore.Dont they post a bond?What happen to their bond or parents CPF?"

You may leave after 16.5, and before completing NS, if you post a bond and agree to return to serve. Back in the early 90s it was about $100,000. Not sure what it is now.

If you flee, they confiscate the money and you are still liable for service and/or arrest if you return.

The only reason anyone posts a bond is if they intend to actually return for NS. Posting a bond gets you a multi-year extension of the passport and it makes it possible to get a Student Visa in most western countries that require a 6 month valid passport.

If you intend to flee. DON'T POST THE BOND. Just apply for an exit permit for a vacation then just leave and stay out. You'll have to find some way to stay and become legalized in another country. This might be problematic when you are 18 and not 21 (the legal age in most western nations). But it is not impossible. I'll keep the bond money and use it as financial support for your endeavor.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

"I could not try to apply for refugee status or anything of that sort because I wasn't of legal age -- you have to be 21 years old. So, basically, I let my Visa expire and did not leave".

I am sorry to say you are wrong. I am an immigration lawyer and should know this area.

You can apply for asylum even if you are a minor. The word is "asylum' not "refugee". A refugee is someone who is given such status outside the US and enters the US as a refugee. Imagine the Vietnamese during the war who were processed at US Embassy Bangkok and given refugee status, or Afghans processed at US Embassy Islamabad and enter the US as refugees. Asylum is applied for while in the US.

Although for immigration purposes such as filing relative petitions the age of majority is 21, for asylum purposes the age is 18. I notice you came to the US after you were 18.

But is any case regardless of your age, even if you are 10, you can still apply for asylum. Of course if you are alone in the US and a minor (under 18) a guardian will be appointed and you can still apply for asylum. You were already 18 so the issue of unaccompanied minor does not arise.

As for the rest of your story, thank you. I am happy you made it. In fact this is a lesson for all those out there who are afraid to venture out into the world.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

" This might be problematic when you are 18 and not 21 (the legal age in most western nations). But it is not impossible."

Again, I have to say you are wrong. For a person who claims to live in the US you seem not to know that your age is the last of anyone's problem. There are hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and people from Latin America who come at a young age. They still stay and find work.

But compared to them someone arriving from Singapore at age 17 is far luckier than any Mexican. Why, because the Mexican has crossed the border illegally while the Singaporean has entered legally, even though it is under the Visa Waiver program. Although this prevents him from changing status in other ways, it does not prevent him from adjusting status through marriage to a US citizen. So just like the earlier commenter, you can go to school here and then get married and become legal.

So age really is not an issue at all. All you need is some balls.

Gopalan Nair said...

To all who are reading this, let me say this.

I am not sure who said this, but courage is man's greatest quality. It cannot be exactly defined but it lies somewhere between cowardice and foolhardiness.

To do these things such as crossing the oceans and venture to new lands you need courage. This is what differentiates the person who stays behind and lives his unhappy life or says freedom or death and takes the plunge. Of course that person may realize all his dreams or he may lose everything. But that is the price every man with courage willingly takes.

anonymous said...

My son planning to do overseas study. He is going in 2014 to do his foundation studies leading to MBBS study. I check with Mindef they said he must do NS at 18 yrs NO deferment will be granted. He will be 18 in 2015 July. Can he join in Jan 2015. He will be 17 1/2 yrs old. But of course deferment will be 1st priority if possible. Can you advice me on this?

Anonymous said...

So basically if i go to us at age 20 and i refuse to come back to singapore to serve ns. i will have to stay at us for 5 years before i could continue my studies? Can i still use my singapore passport to travel to other country? And what should i do when my passport expires? I cant reannounce my singapore passport as it will be denied.

Anonymous said...

If i go to us at age 20 after getting my diploma in singapore , can i continue my studies in US? What will happen to me when i stay in us with a overdue passport , since i cannot re announce it. What should i do? Can i still use the singapore passport to go to other country?

Louis Mak said...

I don't know if you would be able to see this but i don't know, I'm really confused. As much as i wanna get out of here because honestly, i think that with the 2 years that I'm gonna spend in there, i could have achieved so many things! Im 17 this year and my dad isn't singaporean, he's a PR and i have relatives in UK, US and hong kong, all from my dad's side. The thing is, whenever i look at others around me when I'm back in hong kong, the people there could study and work normally without any distraction and interference. Then looking back at myself, i realised that by the time I'm done with this whole army military thing and university i would be really old and what will i have achieved in life? I wanna be able to climb the social scale like a normal person would be able to too. I have my hong kong's residence card and etc and i dont know, how could i not waste that 2 and a half years of my life? i have no clue about what I'm saying either because my heart feels really conflicted with whatever is coming up....

Anonymous said...

Quote: "If i go to us at age 20 after getting my diploma in singapore , can i continue my studies in US? What will happen to me when i stay in us with a overdue passport , since i cannot re announce it. What should i do? Can i still use the singapore passport to go to other country? "

You can enter the USA on a tourist visa or no visa at all as a Singaporean. In order to get a student Visa (aka F1 Visa) You'll need a passport with greater than 6 months validity. You are not going to get a passport with that validity until you have submitted yourself to 2 years of slavery for Singapore. Entering legally, but over staying is actually a favorable status compared to many illegal immigrants because you did not commit illegal entry. This is important because when you are "out of status" you can apply to become a resident if you have a proper entitlement to it -- like if you married an American. If you entered illegally you cannot do such a status adjustment.

If you enter on a tourist Visa or no Visa and simply over stay in the USA, you are breaking US immigration law. Having said that, in the USA you are generally not going to be questioned about your immigration status walking down the street. Most colleges don't care either as your immigration status is a problem you have with the federal government. In some states you may even be able to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities after you can demonstrate that you have been living in the state for more than 2 years.

However, if you decide to basically become an illegal immigrant in the USA, it'll be difficult for you to get a job since you need to be of valid status to apply for an H1B, J1, L1, E2 or any other work Visa. Basically, your options are simple... Apply for Political Asylum (tough case if your are from S'pore), marry an American Citizen or wait for some Amnesty like all the Illegal Mexicans. In the meanwhile your academic pursuits are probably not going to be affect much, but if you leave you cannot get back in the USA and generally you won't have a valid passport so you cannot travel internationally.

If you happen to have someone you fall in love with you can simply get married... that's the easiest route actually.

Anonymous said...

Another things of note...

If your family is planning on immigrating to another country and have been granted or is in the process of being granted Immigrant Visas and/or foreign permanent residency. And, you have made up your mind to leave Singapore forever... just go!

They tell you you need to serve before you leave, just tell them you are going on vacation for 10 days. Go to the target country, continue your application in country. Just don't go back to S'pore or at least don't go back until you have become a citizen in another country. At that point at least you'll have consular protection.

IF ever questioned, refuse to co-operate or answer any question, always ask to see your consular officer.

If you are ever arrested, try to escape from custody or post bail and flee to your embassy. If you make it into a foreign embassy generally speaking they should be able to get you home.

Amos Yee said...

I would like to know exactly how long I'll be jailed if I return to Singapore after skipping NS?