This afternoon at about 3.45pm, I paid a visit to Mr Tan Kin Lian (presidential candidate 2011), at Cactus Crescent. He’s holding a funeral wake for his beloved mother aged 90 yrs who passed away on the morning of 24/2/15. I followed him on Facebook. That’s how I got the message. It’s the 8th day of CNY. Usually, Chinese avoid funeral wakes during this time – the first 15 days of CNY unless they are relatives or close friends. Since I was around the vicinity, I thought I’d just drop by to send my sincere condolences to him.
When I arrived at his residence, I asked for him. I introduced myself after paying my respects to his late mother laying in state. For a moment, he was not sure. When he managed to recall, he straightaway introduced me to all his friends present that “he’s my blogger friend.” He shook my hand warmly and invited me to the living room.
Mr Tan wanted to know how I find his Facebook postings and the many articles he’s written especially on financial planning, investment, insurance etc. My reply was that I only disagreed on one issue. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to pay him a visit to discuss. When he looked at me curiously, straightaway I told him that I do not agree with his National Service views.
Mr Tan is lobbying for our NS to be reduced to one year. In fact, he has set up online petition to get his message across. It was a friendly exchange of ideas on the NS issue immediately after paying my respects to his beloved mother by lighting joss sticks on the altar. There were no drinks or peanuts. We did not waste time on formalities. We debated on one of the vital pillars of our society – National Service for all able bodied male citizens. link
Mr Tan says that he’s not asking for the abolishment of NS. Just a reduction to one year from the current 2-year NS. I told him it used to be 2 and half years. Later, in the evening when I was discussing it with my EM friends, they told me it’s now only 20 months. The following points were brought up by him…
a) Times have changed
Unlike in the early years of nation building when we were poor, we needed as many able bodied citizens to take up arms to defend the country. Now, we are quite “rich”. We are able to afford all kinds of high tech weapons. We’ve got fighter jets, war ships, missiles, submarines and other deadly weapons. In fact, war is no longer fought on land with much manpower. It’s the age of button pressing and joysticks in times of war. link Look at the Americans’ recent military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. No ground troops deployed at all. As such, according to him, we need to modify and change our NS concept since we are already 50 yrs into nation building.
b) Waste of resources & time
According to Mr Tan, Switzerland only demands 9 months of NS from her citizens. Taiwan is currently one year. The latter plans to scrap it. They will expand their professional armed forces instead. If other countries could do it, why can’t we?
For the past 50 yrs, our young men need to sacrifice 2 years performing NS obligation at a meagre pay. Their university education is delayed. Their career is also delayed. In the early years of nation building, we did not have tons of foreigners working here. But today, these foreigners have a head start in work places cuz they need not serve NS. Mr Tan is not against FTs working here. He’s merely stating the facts and the grim reality facing our young men. The burden of 2 yrs need to be reduced to a year to alleviate such gross injustice to them as citizens. Why penalize them? Moreover, they should be paid “market rate” for their NS obligation. Serving the country is one thing but they also need to be adequately compensated. Just like our Ministers and MPs serving the country are also adequately compensated.
Our professional armed forces need to be expanded with savings ( in terms of training costs, allowances etc ) from a reduced NS obligation. Citizens also need to go back for in-camp training every year for 2 to 4 weeks thus disrupting their work. Many employers are not very supportive of this disruption (though they don’t openly say it). Whereas, those FTs are not subject to this obligation.
Actually, those facts mentioned by Mr Tan are common knowledge. They are not unknown to us. It’s just that no one takes the initiative to highlight those points on the NS issue. It’s a taboo subject with much sensitivity and emotions. We must not forget that NS is one of the vital pillars of our society.
Having listened to Mr Tan’s explanations about the NS issue, I’m still not convinced. Maybe, I belong to the old school of thought. I’m old fashion in that sense. I find it difficult to accept what he’s saying regarding his views on NS. Rape of Nanking and all the frightening images of atrocities kept flashing in my mind! We better get prepared for that day which I wish will never come! Never forget the Chinese saying, “养兵千日用兵一时!”
Just this morning when I was sending a male passenger to the Salvation Army office at Upper Changi Road North from Pasir Ris, we commented that the TPE (Tampines Expressway) leading to his place of work is always jam pack with cars every morning. I then said that cars are so expensive, yet there are still so much cars on the roads. It’s just like maintaining a second wife. My passenger all of a sudden replied that “rifle” is the main wife not a car! Without rifle, people will bully you. Even you hold a rifle, people will still bully you! I just could not believe that it’s so co-incidental that I’d be talking about NS later in the afternoon.
At the end of the discussion, I still told Mr Tan I don’t agree with his views on NS. I do not support him on that. He graciously told me that we could agree to disagree and remain as friends. No hard feelings. I respect him for that.
Next, he gave me a preview of a taxi app he’s working on. It’s called “Page Taxi.” There are so many taxi apps in the market nowadays. He feels that his taxi app is better than the rest. He’s still refining on it. I shall blog about it next time round.
At about 2.15pm, after spending half an hour at his residence, it’s time for me to take leave to resume my driving routine. We bade farewell after another round of warm handshakes.