Monday, September 01, 2008

National Service- Letter from father of Bugge brothers

Hi friends,

There has been much written about the predicament of the Bugge brothers. (Read here for original ST article- Give up citizenship? Brothers must do NS first!)

Whether one feels that they should be made to serve National Service in Singapore or not, I think that Mr. Bugge senior should get a fair hearing from us before we judge his sons either way.

In an online comment to Brian Premchand ( or Premchand Brian as the author himself claims as how his name should be) who wrote to the ST Forum ( Laws on NS not all that draconian) , Mr. Bugge writes passionately about his family’s peculiar situation.

Read for yourself and ponder what if anything should to be done about our Enlistment Act and if the Bugge brothers have any defence for their actions. Should the Bugge brothers be made to do National Service twice?

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Mr. Bugge's comments:

I am the Father of these three young men. Please let me clarify some facts that did not appear in the original article in S.T., or appear to have registered by most posters.

The case of my sons is NOT first and foremost about whether they should serve NS, and where, it is about the right of those born in Singapore with one parent Singaporean and the other foreign, and there are more and more of them.

In our case our three sons were born here in 1975, 1977 and 1978. They became Norwegian Citizens upon birth as they had to follow Father's Passport under the immigration rules then, at the peak of the "Stop at two / Two is enough" campaign. They have always held Norwegian Passport and chose to retain that at the age of 21. They are residents of Norway and all three has done their NS in Norway, as is their obligation under Norwegian Law.

They were effectively Dual Citizens until they reach the legal age of 21, upon which they HAD to chose one and renounce the other, before they reach the age of 22. Norway and Singapore does not allow dual citizenship after that age unless in special cirumstances. This is per Singapore's Constitution and according to UN Human Rights Charter, and is not disputed.

Today two of them are professional soldiers and are still serving in the Norwegian Army's "Rapid Deployment Battalion", ready to go anywhere their country elect to send them on short notice.

The oldest is a 12 year veteran and Second Lieutenant, the youngest has abt. 10 years service and is now Sargent. They have been in active peace keeping service in Bosnia, Lebanon, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Both are due back in Afghanistan soon, for the 3rd and 4th time respectively. This time to train the Afghan Army.

Are these your typical "defaulters"? No, they are three young men that has been caught up in a web of draconian NS rules that does not take into account the rights dual citizens have to chose, and the obligations they have to their the country who's citizenship they hold. If they had chosen to become Singapore Citizen at 21, they would have done their NS her without fail and may have enrolled in the Army here, who knows.

In case they should come back her, serve their NS and still want to retain their Norwegian Citizenship at the end of it, would they be allowed to do so? No, they would they be stripped of their Singapore Citizenship and possibly deported as "non-desirables". Even punished for having held dual citizenship after the age of 22?

You can say that the NS rules are not draconian, but it affects these three young men adversely in all ways. They are unable to travel to Singapore for a family visit, although they hold only Norwegian passport, and have always done so. If they should seek a job that involves travel to these parts, they may not be able to do so as they risk arrest, if they should land in Singapore.How would this look on a job application? "I can travel to any country in the world, but not to Singapore, because I would be arrested on arrival because I happened to have been born there".

With the present discussion of the negative "brain drain" from Singapore and how to get overseas Singaporeans to return, the first place to look is at the NS "problems" that keeps more and more from returning, especially mixed couples with young sons who are, or will come, in the same situation as our three sons.

But NS is NOT the issue here. The issue is the rights of individuals to chose their own destiny. Any dual citizen who intend to remain in Singapore after the age of 21 would be eligible for the draft, whether he holds Singapore passport or not. If he is residing outside Singapore and does not hold Singapore passport at that age, he should be allowed to return and serve, or renounce his right to a Singapore passport and be free of any NS obligations.To "punish" young men for being born here serves no purpose and is not according to UN Human Rights Charter, or indeed according to the Singapore Constitution, which allow freedom of choice at/after 21 years of age.

I have called Singapore home for about 40 years and understand the need for a strong defense, and the draft to ensure the necessary manpower, with strict Laws and enforcement to ensure that. But the way it is being done now does not serve the purpose. To force reluctant foreign nationals into service is not productive as they may not be around if the need should arise to defend the country, or indeed be willing to.

As for our three sons, they would probably try to get back here and volunteer, if Singapore should be attacked. That is in their character and they are well trained for the task.

Signed off as Captombugge at Mon Sep 01 11.06 SGT 2008


Anonymous said...

national service is stupid. And that is why people should not reproduce in Singapore. There is a 50% chance they have to waste 2 years opf their lives, followed by more reservist training. What do they do in NS - pack national day fun bags, search jungles for Mas selamat, and 100 and one idoitic stuff.
Let us bring in foreign talent to do this - like the gurkhas protecting PM Lee etc etc etc.
Reproduction rate sure shoot up

Anonymous said...

think about it - if only a small percentage of nations have conscription - why are we so different? With our solid air force and air defence and heavy artillery - can we afford a zero NS liabilty, or one that is truncated to one year? Without reservist?
Of course that would reduce a lot of the GDP spending and a lot of ST groups will be redundent. Can we do that?

Anonymous said...

This issue only highlight the small-mindedness of most singaporeans.

Whenever NS is mentioned, they only want to draw blood. Most Singaporeans seem to embrace NS because it is "no-choice" and they know they can't get out of it. So they want equal misery for all.

Seriously, I am Singaporean and see no sensible reason for forcing someone who had lived donkey years away from Singapore to serve NS.

In fact, if Singaporean treasures the Singaporean citizenship so much, they should insist that these people (who have stayed away for more than a decade) renounce their citizenships! No point having phantom citizens.

They did not benefit from being a Singaporean and neither have they contributed to our country.

Forcing them to serve NS produces nothing meaningful except the perceived sense of equality that all must suffer 2 years in Singapore.

All that talk about duty to country and willingness to defend it is just empty talk.

Anonymous said...

National Service, the pride of Singapore. We have produced so many Generals who would have won us many a war, at the War Game centre.

CelluloidReality said...

The three lads have done far more than any Singaporean can claim to have done in terms of military service.

As far as I am concerned, it's all about jealous people who are unwilling to see what is wrong with the current system at hand.

Let the Bugge lads go, renounce their citizenship as they are victims of procedural requirements.

Secondly, drop this procedural trap. It is a disgrace to Singapore. We do not want to be painted as "kidnappers".

Lastly, people should take a look at whether they have any moral authority to label serving professional soldiers and veterans as defaulters. It is just sick.

Anonymous said...

For more detailed discussions on these important topics, see:
Singapore Kopitiam

Anonymous said...

mr. bugge,

your family has my sympathies. i hope mindef will budge; anyone with common sense would.

it will be ironic if they don't given what your sons have accomplished is a thousandfold more than what ten battalions of singapore conscripts will ever do.

Anonymous said...

I think they should be allowed to visit Singapore as visitors. Why do they need to be punished for just wanting to visit Singapore? They are not returning to Singapore as her citizens, they have already taken up other citizenships. If someone who doesn't want to be a Singaporean citizen, then why do you want to force them to be one? Is the Singapore government so hardup for citizens who don't want to be Singaporeans anymore? Its just disgraceful!