NS exit permit requirement to be relaxed; new Changi recreation hub for NSmen
From April, NSmen will only require an exit permit for overseas trips that are 12 months or longer.
SINGAPORE: From April, operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) will only need to apply for an exit permit if they are leaving Singapore for 12 months or more.
This is a relaxation of the current rule, which requires NSmen who are going overseas for six months or more to get an exit permit.
"This change reflects the growing mobility of Singaporeans, with many of our NSmen staying or working overseas for longer durations," Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How told Parliament on Monday (Feb 27).
He assured Members of Parliament that the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) had studied the issue closely and that the change would not affect the operational readiness of the Singapore Armed Forces.
Under the Enlistment Act, the penalty for remaining outside Singapore without a valid exit permit is up to three years' jail, a fine of up to S$10,000 or both.
The updated rule follows last year's conclusion of a government review aimed at strengthening the NS system.
NSmen can also look forward to a new social and recreation hub in Changi. Built by the National Service Resort and Country Club (NSRCC), the recreation hub will have chalets, sports facilities and other family-centric amenities.
More details about the hub will be announced in due course, said Mr Heng.
MORE WORK-LEARN OPPORTUNITIES
A work-learn scheme for servicemen, which allows them to earn polytechnic diplomas and university credits while performing operational duties, will be expanded to a sixth domain.
Under the new work-learn scheme for naval warfare system specialists, selected full-time national servicemen (NSFs) who enlist from September can obtain a diploma in Engineering (Mechanical Technology) from Singapore Polytechnic.
The existing five work-learn schemes are for cyber skills, air force technicians, army technicians, army supply supervisors and digital skills. Since the first was launched in 2018, 450 NSFs have enrolled in the schemes.
Mr Heng said that by 2025, MINDEF expects 500 NSFs to be enrolled in work-learn schemes every year.
Servicemen who sign up for work-learn schemes undergo a combination of full-time NS and regular service, incorporating academic and technical training provided by institutes of higher learning.
NEW CYBERSECURITY AND INFORMATION FACILITY
A regional facility to deal with cybersecurity and information threats will be set up at the Changi Command and Control Centre in Changi Naval Base in the third quarter of 2023.
The ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence (ACICE) was established in 2021, in the face of rapid digitalisation and higher prevalence of cybersecurity, disinformation and misinformation attacks, said MINDEF.
ACICE aims to defend against such threats by sharing information on cyber, information and other attacks, promoting cooperation and acting as a platform for exchanges among ASEAN defence officials, experts and industry players.
It comprises a cybersecurity centre, an information centre and a research centre that will collaborate with think tanks and academic institutions on longer-term research.