BBC News ran a story on 2 Oct featuring twenty of their international readers explaining why they had renounced their citizenship from their respective birth nations.

Buried in the list was an Alex Liang, 37 who is now a proud British citizen:

“I was born and bred in Singapore but moved to the UK when I was 21 and eventually naturalised as a British citizen after seven years here – I am 37 today. I left Singapore because I had no faith in the government there. Singaporean males were discriminated against by the government because of the compulsory national service and many years of reservist obligations afterwards. That is compounded by the fact that the Singapore government is actively wooing skilled migrants to Singapore. Their “foreign talent” programme gives these migrants all kinds of advantages that locals are not entitled to. I gave two years and four months of my life to serve in the army and my reward is to be treated like a second-class citizen. I wasn’t prepared to fight the system, so I simply left and settled in the UK instead.”

Alex Liang, London

You know what?

Alex struck a chord in me with his comments on NS.

I am 33 now and I am very sick and tired of the stupid discriminatory NS system and ten additional “work year” (named such so that they can not count a year when you are not called back for in-camp training) reservist with additional IPPT/RT/IPT burdens.

Modern day slavery in Singapore

Modern day slavery in Singapore

I gave two and a half years of my life to full-time national service. I completed this in 2001. It has been 12 years since. Way passed ten years from my ORD date. I find it ridiculous that I still have to serve at least 4 more “work years” – likely near to my 40s before I can get discharged from this slavery system.

Forty years old… think about it. That is more than half of an average lifespan. An awfully long time to keep sacrificing for the nation.

In the mean time, I am subjected to silly school boy hair check at least once a year when I get called back for in-camp training. Not that I like keeping long hair, but I would at least like to have the option to make that decision myself instead of having MINDEF and SAF dictate that for me into my middle age. I am not a full-time soldier. I did not sign up for a career in the army. I was conscripted.

Not everybody like being soldiers or take well to regimentation. Two and a half years in the army was more than enough for me.

Not everybody is born fit and with a physique built to pass IPPT up to their 40s. There are some people who just cannot pass. In any case, my health and my fitness are my own choices in life which I prefer to take my own responsibility for. I hate having MINDEF and SAF dictate these for me.

I hate being sent warning letters each time I forget to notify MINDEF when I travel. I am not a criminal. My only crime was being born a Singaporean male.

I hate being sent a “birthday wish” SMS from MINDEF to remind me to take my IPPT or risk getting charged. Thank you. You are always the first to wish me happy birthday without fail each year and spoil my mood for the day.

I hate having to spend between 18 to 20 weekends a year doing RT/IPT when I could have better spent the time bonding with my son.

I hate constantly being reminded that MINDEF and SAF can charge me and send me to jail for stuff like failing to take my IPPT or failing to notify them when I travel. Like I mentioned earlier, I did not sign up for this. Being a soldier is only a part-time obligation, not a full-time job.

Google defines a slave as “a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.”

Does this definition reminds you of NS and reservist?

I am not as talented as Alex Liang to be able to get a ticket out of Singapore at such a young age.

I still love this country and my family, friends and work here more than the cons of NS discrimination.

Nonetheless, if I ever choose to migrate out of Singapore. MINDEF and SAF are highly responsible.

Seriously, it is time to review the whole NS and reservist system. 

7 Oct 2013 Update: Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing this post. I wrote another blog post to clarify my stand on the whole NS debate.