The internet is an amazing medium which allows all of us to participate in useful discourse from wherever we are. Those of us who have a passion for what is happening around us can participate in what I see as an experiment in grass-root democracy (well, sort of anyway).
For this we must thank pioneers like Mr. Wang of Mr.Wang Bakes Good Karma whom I read everyday as his brain seems to ooze out posts and ideas effortlessly. I suspect that he must be a scion of some rich tycoon, and hence does not really need to work and can afford to spend his time blogging 24/7.
I do not wish to steal the thunder from Mr. Wang and I will immediately get to the point about this post. Mr. Wang in his inimitable way blogged about National Service and why it is time to have a relook at this once “sacred cow”. Before the conservatives amongst you “switch off” and mumble to yourselves, “Here we go again, same old sh*t again about NS slavery blah blah…”, let me assure you in Mr. Wang’s own words, “It has never been my intention to argue that NS is not necessary.” ( see.. he even reads minds!).
He is seeking feedback about how National Service can be a more worthwhile experience ( or as someone said, a less worthless one). To set the tone for Part 2 of the post, he assures the skeptics thus (in a comment):
"1. Is NS necessary? It has never been my intention to argue that NS is not necessary.
2. Forcing 1st Gen FTs to do NS.No, that is not my idea.
3. Forcing 2nd Gen FTs to do NS.If they are citizens, they would have to serve. But no, it is not my idea to force anyone to take up citizenship.
4. Professional armyNo, it was not my intention to argue that we can replace our conscript army with a professional army. Although I think hiring another 10,000 Gurkhas would be useful. Foreign talent is good, remember?”
My aim here is to rechannel more eyeballs to his post. The comments from netizens ( last count 94 comments) are just as important ( if not more important than the actual post itself). The majority of the comments are serious and well thought-out. Doubtlessly, there are some wisecracks but if the government wants sincere feedback and constructive ideas, Mindef should look no further.
My limited experience with my blog confirms that bloggers are generally responsible and constructive. In fact, I have already disabled the “moderation” function of my comments page as there had been no need to censor any comments for any defamatory or distasteful comments for there were none.
I would suggest that perhaps Mr. Wang should collate these comments ( in some sort of order) and forward them to Mindef. Let us see how the authorities respond to such sincere and constructive suggestions.
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
PS: In case you are wondering... no, Mr. Wang did not ask me to do this. In fact I don't even know who he is.
Below is the post and links...
Rethinking NS - Part 1 (from Mr. Wang Bakes Good Karma)
Recently, I had lunch with a lawyer. A foreigner who has been working for some years in Singapore. He has PR status now and has been offered citizenship a few times. He also has a very young son, about three years old. During lunch, he asked me point-blank to explain the NS system and how he could avoid his son having to do NS (read on...)