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12 sanctioned yearly for not serving NS on religious grounds

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen says there has not been an increasing trend of such cases.

SINGAPORE: About a dozen national servicemen have been court-martialled and sentenced to detention every year for refusing to serve National Service (NS) on religious grounds in the past 10 years, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question from Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan Kheng Boon, Dr Ng said there has not been an increasing trend of such cases.

Assoc Prof Tan had asked for the number of full-time and operationally-ready national servicemen who have been detained or sanctioned for their objection to performing NS on moral or religious grounds, and whether there was a trend of such objections. He also asked whether alternative forms of NS could be considered, subject to stringent requirements being satisfied.

In response, Dr Ng said under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore citizens and permanent residents have to perform NS within the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Civil Defence Force or the Singapore Police Force.

“This requirement, applied to all without exception, is fair and necessary to maintain strong support for NS,” he said.

“Only a small number are exempted for medical reasons based on professional assessment by an independent panel. Allowing individuals to opt out or choose alternative forms of NS because of moral or religious reasons will weaken support for NS,” Dr Ng added.

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