Dr Lim Wee Kiak: Serving two years NS privilege belongs to Singaporeans

Who voted this guy into parliament?

I love this quote from Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, on the results of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) survey on National Service (NS):

“What you realise from this survey is that majority are not asking them (PRs) to serve exactly the same two years system. In fact, serving the two years is a privilege. I am quite glad that many Singaporeans realised that and that should be a privilege that belongs to Singaporeans.”

Serving two years NS is a privilege?

I have always seen it as a necessary sacrifice that falls on the shoulder of Singapore-born males. Thanks for enlightening me that it should be seen as a privilege.

Here is a definition of the word privilege from Dictionary.com: “a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities”.

The key words here are “free from certain obligations or liabilities”.

By this definition, it seems to me that to give PRs the option to volunteer and choose whether they want to serve NS fits better as a “privilege”  because they have a choice to be free from NS obligations and liabilities.

For those of us who have no choice as conscripts, wouldn’t enslavement and slaves be better words?

By the way, Dr Lim Wee Kiak is the same brilliant doctor who said this on a revision of ministerial pay:

“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discusses policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.”

Strange.

I consider serving as a MP or a Minister a privilege. In fact, a very huge privilege.

You can choose not to run for elections or serve as a MP or a Minister. That is a privilege. I cannot choose not to serve NS/ICT/RT/IPPT/IPT. 

If NS is considered a privilege, using the same logic from our good doctor, it is sad that many NSFs will feel that they cannot defend the country when faced with professional, career soldiers from other countries like the United States as they are drawing a measly allowance compared to these mercenaries. We need more pay for dignity. Would the good doctor agree on this?

I wanted to stop blogging about the NS issue as I know it will get nowhere except me getting more unnecessary and unfair attention.

Thanks to Dr Lim Wee Kiak, I am drawn to write another post by the sheer intelligence of his comment.

This is the same doctor who insulted his senior in parliament, Mr Low Thia Khiang  with a totally uncalled for remark on his hearing aid

“I will quote (from your speech then) one more time. And maybe your hearing aid has to be (turned) up a little bit.”

Wow.

Back to the NS issue – I have to concur with Alex that a NS review will not take place. The system is not going to change if you look at the way the whole issue is being framed and discussed, following the results of the IPS survey.

People like me calling for a review of the NS system will always be brushed aside as a so-called “vocal minority”.

Why can’t I fight this?

It is because those serving or who have served NS are in the minority in the first place!

With 16 new immigrants and only 5 new births a day, the NS minority will just keep shrinking in the years ahead
With 16 new immigrants and only 5 new births a day, the NS minority will just keep shrinking in the years ahead

Subtract the women, subtract the foreigners and you find that you have way less than half of the total Singapore population who have served or are currently serving NS.

Among these are those who truly love NS (I am happy for them and am sure they will continue to give their service even if NS is abolished one day), army regulars and such. Subtract these people, how many are there left?

I am very sure majority of us who have served or are currently serving feel a review needs to be in place to make the system more relevant to today’s globalized economy and work fairer for us in the workplace and in the civilian world.

However, if you conduct a survey across the entire population, this result will never show.

A fellow blogger, Reddotwinston, did a good dissertation on the flaws of the IPS survey. Here is one highlight I pulled out:

“Defense is a public good. Wait… national defense is a PURE public good. By that, it means that the consumption of the Good (in this case, defense) is non excludable and non rivalrous. By non excludable, it means once defense is provided, even people who don’t pay/contribute, cannot be excluded from the consumption of it. By non rivalrous, it means that your consumption of the good is not going to prevent/reduce my consumption of the good. The problem with goods that are public good especially those that are non excludable is the free-rider problem. Basically, people who don’t contribute/pay are still able to enjoy the benefits of it.

Now if you remember the story I had right from the start, all the gatherers in the village are all for sending 10 young strong hunters to the monster because they get to enjoy the benefit of clean air without having to pay the cost of living with the monster. By asking servicemen and public whether “NS is necessary for the defense of Singapore” and having 50% of your respondents being women, you kind of bias the response towards an agreement.”

Having a NS system build up a defense force which keeps Singapore safe. There is no argument to this. If you ask those who do not have to serve NS if a NS review is necessary, there is no reason for them to say no as they get to enjoy this benefit without having to put in anything. Ask them if they support the current NS system if they have to serve two years full-time and at least ten years part-time NS upon saying yes. Let’s see how the results will change.

Anyway, I accepted defeat.

I will just suck my thumb and shut up because I will always be deemed as an insignificant “vocal minority” – even though NSmen and NSF are an actual minority in this country and even though my opinion may represent the majority among this minority.

[Movie Review] About Time (2013)

About Time is a 2013 British romantic comedy science fiction film revolving around time travel where a young man tries to change his past to have a better future.

The film is written and directed by Richard Curtis, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy.

I was drawn to the movie because of Richard Curtis. He is one of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, known primarily for romantic comedy films such as Four Weddings and a FuneralBridget Jones’s DiaryNotting Hill and Love Actually, as well as the hit sitcoms Blackadder and Mr. Bean.

Curtis has said this is likely to be his last film as director, but that he will continue in the film industry. All the more this is a must-watch movie for fans of Curtis.

Rachel and I watched About Time at the preview screening on Tuesday. It was a sweet, lovely movie to watch, much like the rest of Curtis’ previous films.

The two leads were wonderful and have good onscreen chemistry:

Science fiction is not exactly Curtis’ genre though. There are lots of plot flaws with regards to the time traveling. However, if you can accept the confusing time travel as a plot device to guide the story along, you will enjoy the film pretty well.

I always prefer witty, acid British humour (think Jeremy Clarkson) compared to most America humour which tend to border on slapstick (think Rob Schneider). There is a good dosage of these in About Time which got both Rachel and I laughing.

The simple storyline on one man’s quest for love was endearing like the rest of Curtis’ previous films. Love is a theme which Curtis had always excel in and perfected over the years.

The key takeaway I got from this film was the resolve to treasure each day of my life more and to live each day to the fullest. Yes, I know these are cliches, but it is nice to be reminded of them in a light-hearted way.

Go catch this film with someone you love – be it a partner, one of your parents or a very dear friend. You will walk out the cinema feeling great about life, cherishing every second of it.

About Time is now showing in Singapore cinemas.