Sunday, November 1, 2015

Singapore's broken national service policy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Not a day goes by without Emails asking how to avoid national service. It appears as if nobody in Singapore island wants to serve. The national service system there is simply nonsensical and one can see why.

There is no problem getting enough professional pilots or naval officers. It is the army which consists almost entirely of conscripts that faces a crunch. The reasons as many.

Firstly you have an abysmally low birth rate, the lowest in the world and consequently insufficient young men. Secondly you have an ageing population who are too old to serve. Thirdly you have a totally discredited government, indeed a Fascist state with no democracy whatsoever, causing many to question why they should serve a country such as this. Fourthly you have sophisticated young men who have travelled to the West and are repulsed by the way they are treated in their own country and want no part of it.

Yet this desperate government, realizing they are in some real trouble, become the enemies of their own young men, trying to enforce the this totally broken system with threats of fines and imprisonment for failing to serve.

Here are a few things you may want to know. The Enlistment Act requires any Singapore citizen as well as second generation permanent residents to serve.  Unlike citizens, permanent residents can avoid it simply by giving up their residence status subject to some penalties such as the inability to either study or wok in the island. The penalties for refusal for citizens are harsh, 2 years imprisonment and heavy fines.

You can avoid national service but it comes with some difficulty, which are not insurmountable. If you are studying abroad, simply do not return. They cannot have you extradited. While abroad, your own Embassy will be your main enemy in the sense they may not renew your passport. To overcome this, you somehow have to get valid residence status. You can do this by filing an asylum claim e.g. by raising a conscientious  objector defense, or that you are a Jehovah Witness preventing you from taking up firearms. Although asylum laws do not consider refusal to do national service as a valid claim, in practice they will at least not forcibly send you back. Also in most European countries as well as United States or Canada, you can get status by marrying a local. This shouldn't be difficult especially since you are a young man.

One major downside of this is that no matter how long you stay aboard, you can never return to Singapore. If you do, you will arrested. You are in effect a lifelong fugitive from the island. Personally I don't think this is a big deal. You can go anywhere in the world even to Malaysia. In any case they can never forcibly get you to return.

It is encouraging to see more an more young men deciding to abscond from the island. I want to see the fall of this PAP one party fascist regime and the collapse of their national service policy would in some way precipitate  that end.

It is a big adventure no doubt fraught with some risk to go and remain abroad to avoid national service. But I would encourage you to do it. The recent elections has made it abundantly clear that they are going to continue denying any semblance of democracy in the island, forever. So if you want to save yourself, go abroad and stay abroad. That way you not only save yourself, you are giving a solid blow to the solar plexus of the Lee regime, where it hurts.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean by birth
Fremont (San Francisco) California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525


Jason Wong said...

I'm one of these NS defaulters, and I also cannot return. Big f*cking deal.

From afar, all I can say is that my relatives in Singapore are scared shitless of the government. Worse, they think that they are actually living in a democracy. Brainwashed. They say they are not afraid of the government, but when I ask them to protest about issues they don't agree on, they say they'll get arrested. They "trust" the government, they say. No free speech, but they think it is normal. All other countries must be like that right? North Korea notwithstanding.

Singaporeans deserve what they get. No ifs and buts.

Gopalan Nair said...

Jason Wong,
Thanks for the declamation in very colorful language. You can help other fellow Singaporeans by telling them what it is like abroad and encouraging them to pack up and leave. Thousands of others are doing just that. We can do our part in this way, hurting that dictatorship. I am already representing several Singaporeans in their asylum claims in the US. Once they get it, they will bring their wives, parents brothers sisters, relatives and persuade their friends to leave that island. Poor Lee Kuan Yew's dictator son cant do a thing about guys like you and me. And I am not going to stop. Bravo.