Monday, November 09, 2009

Counting the costs of male citizenship posted an article entitled "Your Citizenship is Worth $4,511 More Than a PR Per Year". I'm not sure how $4511 was derived, but a glance shows the calculation is full of errors. For example, almost every single grant mentioned is for children. Depending on how you see it, almost all sums should be divided by two, or even three if you take the child into account. Not to mention, at the "average" of one child per woman, how does one simultaneously enjoy child care subsidy (for preschoolers) and subsidized school fees (for school going kids)?

Even the $30-40k HDB grant does not go to a single citizen. It is the combined grant of two citizens. If you marry a PR or foreigner, or a citizen who is disqualified due to pay or owning private property, you get half of that.

That sum of $4511 is a gross exaggeration. Then again, it does not take into account measures that only the low income citizens enjoy, like Workfare, and one off grants like GST credits, Jobs Credit and HDB Upgrading subsidy.

Don't count the Utilities Save. Foreigners get that too.

But how about the costs of a citizenship vs PR?

How much does it cost a Singaporean man to serve NS?

Can we account just by the loss of salary over two years(or two and half years for old timers like me)?

How about families that are plunged into financial crisis because their sole breadwinner was called up for NS? It is not as rare as most people who had not served NS think. Better yet, administrative screwups resulting into two breadwinners of a poor family being called up at the same time. I know it has happened because I have seen it myself.

I was paid around $200 per month for my 30 months of NS. No 13th month bonus. No CPF. No OT pay. The pay is much more now, but hardly market competitive.

Because it neither tracked inflation nor market rates, those who served NS in the 70s and early 80s were paid much more, relatively.

Why does a country that boasts of first world status and out of this world ministerial salaries persist in paying our national servicemen poorly? If the country has no money to pay our national servicemen, the ministers should consider a pay cut. But no, they believe in paying themselves first. And they sure track market rates closely.

How about care for servicemen who are disabled due to service injuries? Singapore seems to have no system to care for disabled servicemen. MINDEF's attitude seems to be pay a lump sum up front, discharge the servicemen and run away as quickly as they possibly can.

How do you account for the intangibles? The opportunity costs of our two years in our prime? The inconveniences erected when we turn 11 to prevent us from escaping NS? The continued inconveniences as we have to plan our lives around our reservists obligations?

And how do we account for the letter that threatens to suspend our travel "privileges", when we forget to inform to MINDEF before we go overseas? Priceless?

What price, to account for the hostile work environment? My superior officer once threatened to kill me, wanted to slam my head against the wall. That, after yelling at me for half an hour. This is a job I cannot resign from. I cannot even apply for a transfer.

I am sure, knowing that my citizenship is worth $4511 over a PR makes me feel better. Right.

Despite the costs, serving NS is worth it, right? It's all about defending Singapore from an invasion of foreigners, right?


  1. Frankly, it's depressing ...

  2. There are friends of mine who did enjoy NS and reservists. There are even groups of them that found that NS actually enhances their career prospects in the government service. There are also people who don't give a damn. You add all these people and the women in Singapore, you are left with a small minority of men who are suffering under the stupid system for being a male singaporean. 2 weeks a year of reservist for 13 years, work out to about 26 weeks or 0.5 years. We are talking about 3 years of forced labour for those under the old system. If you don't want your children (male) to suffer, best to get out of the country while you can.

  3. Since you brought it up, I have to say, the costs of NS continues for me, since I have two boys. I have to quickly decide if I want to migrate before the boys turn 11 and all sorts of travel restrictions kick in.

    Unlike second generation PRs, Singapore citizens do not have a choice with NS. Second generation PRs can give up their PRs and walk away scot-free at 17, and perhaps re-apply for EP after they are 25, if they want to. Citizens cannot even leave the country without all sorts of guarantees once they turn 11, and if they fail to return on time will be exiled forever from Singapore.