The Bane Of National Service | Libertarian Society Singapore

National service is not a mere waste of time. It’s a waste of two whole years of our short lives, and the finest example of a slap in the face to anyone who values their personal freedom.

Men who malinger or ‘chao keng’ in the army are looked upon as irresponsible and incompetent; they are sneered at in condescension, even though these men behave within perfectly rational faculties. Why would we expect any person not given a choice but to put career and academic progression on pause for not just one, but two years, to obediently comply with a set of dictatorial rules, let alone step up and display excellence?

There is no rational reason to excel in NS unless you intend to make a career out of it. When we do what we’re told, the average NSF is only doing it as far as it keeps them from being labelled ‘criminals’ and being shacked up in a prison cell. It’s not a matter of laziness, it’s a matter of motivation.

The career-oriented is driven to produce exceptional work because a promotion is within reach. A salesperson is motivated to work after-hours because there is practical incentive to do so. The overweight individual laces on their running shoes when they’d much rather remain on the couch because they know it’s another step toward their ideal physique.

What remote form of motivation is present for NSF’s to achieve, asides from the ever-present belief of this enthusiastic piece of propaganda: ‘Fighting for your country is your duty’, a one-sided scanty piece of doctrine that’s been hammered into our minds by the education system and no doubt spurred on by patriotism-fuelled SAF advertisements plastered all over the media and public space?

I would like to say that at least conscripts are paid decently, but NSF’s must make do with a paltry allowance: a tidy sum of $600 a month ($800 if you’re supposedly an elite commander chosen to lead in the SAF), hardly even half a fraction of what any financially prudent 18-year-old will spend in a country that ranks the top tier of any ‘highest costs of living’ lists you can Google. Pocket money befitting of expendable manpower that forms the cost-efficient legs and hands of overseas army exercises, annual parades and weekend guard duty in military compounds.

“But men benefit from NS, learn responsibility, how to deal with people, and make great friendships.” This thin and wretched line of illogic is likely the pro-conscription Singaporean’s most beloved axiom.

Set a man to any menial task for the duration of two years and similar ‘benefits’ will arise. A cleaner develops responsibility for keeping the space clean when they understand thousands of patrons depend on them. The anti-social individual handing out flyers on a busy street eventually musters some degree of social skill. The cotton-picking slave learns to do just enough not to get lashed, and creates likely to be the most precious friendships in his lifetime.

We get to vote, get to exercise freedom of speech (at least some degree of it), and call ourselves a democratic country, when involuntary servitude is the very opposite of what democracy is. This is the same law that was put in place almost half a century ago in 1967, and there must be a middle ground that can be found; either pay NSF’s better or abolish it.

While there are legions of you who find no dissatisfaction in straddling ‘don’t question just do’ like a well-trained German Shepherd, the rest of us request you bear in mind that not every conscript is equally eager to fall in line and lead our lives dogmatically like another cog in the SAF machine.
Axact

Libertarian Society Singapore

We believe that freedom and liberty is a moral right. The role of the Singapore government is not to run the economy and run our lives, but simply to protect the rights of Singaporeans. Find out more on various social media avenues!

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