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Expand NS beyond male citizens if volunteer scheme succeeds: MP

The National Service should be expanded beyond just male citizens, if the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps proves to be successful, said Member of Parliament Alex Yam.

SINGAPORE: Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC Alex Yam has suggested expanding National Service (NS) beyond just male citizens to include parties such as women and first-generation Permanent Residents, if the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteer Corps proves successful.

His suggestion in Parliament on Wednesday (May 28), echoes several calls by other members of the House to involve women in defence of the country.

Mr Yam expressed support for the SAF Volunteer Corps - which will be set up in the middle of next year - as part of recommendations made by a high-level committee. But he added, managing volunteers in the Corps may be challenging.

"The training and management of volunteers is difficult enough in the social sector. I believe it will be even more challenging within a regimented organisation," he said.

The Corps targets those exempt from NS - such as women, first-generation Permanent Residents and new citizens between 18 and 45.

Mr Yam said he sees a great potential in this initiative, for Singaporeans to contribute further toward the "inclusivity of NS as well as address the issue of falling enlistment due to population dynamics in the future".

Mr Yam also expressed support for the NS Home Awards recommendation, where NSmen are recognised for their contribution.

He had just come out of his last high-key in-camp training, and said he met fellow NSmen who each had multiple commitments, such as looking after young children.

He said the recommendations , which gives NSmen more help in healthcare, housing and education, would be a welcome move.

Mr Yam also took the opportunity to reiterate the role of the community in Total Defence.

He said it cannot just be a day of celebration, but be a way of life for Singaporeans.

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