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    Forum: National service enlistment cannot be done only when it is convenient, Forum News & Top Stories

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    I write to support the Ministry of Defence’s (Mindef) rejection of footballer Harry Birtwistle’s application to renounce his Singapore citizenship to evade his national service responsibility (Wolves defender Harry Birtwistle’s application to renounce his S’pore citizenship rejected, Oct 29).

    Every Singapore son has the solemn obligation and responsibility to put aside his personal pursuits to enlist and serve when he reaches 18 years of age.

    Since national service was made compulsory in 1967, generations of men regardless of race or family status have served to guarantee the continued sovereignty of Singapore.

    As a little red dot, Singapore’s sovereignty cannot be taken for granted.

    It takes every Singapore son to protect it.

    Fulfilling one’s national service cannot be a matter of enlisting when it is most convenient. Renouncement of citizenship in pursuit of personal interests should not be an excuse for not serving.

    As a father, I also want the best for my two sons and to support them in their personal pursuits. But, like most Singaporean families, we know that the nation must come before self.

    Once we forget that and start making exceptions for certain people to be exempted from national service in pursuit of personal interests, there will be no end to it. The talented musicians and performers, the award-winning researchers, the skilled sportsmen and others will be asking for deferment or exemption from national service too. Who, then, will be left to defend us?

    Worse, this might create a social divide between the rich and the poor. Those who could afford to provide opportunities for their children by sending them overseas would enjoy the benefits of doing so, whereas those that couldn’t have to stay behind to serve. That is not the Singapore we pledge to build and protect.

    It is a shame for Mr Birtwistle to shirk his obligation and responsibility to his country, in pursuit of personal glory and wealth.

    He cannot choose to be a Singaporean when it is beneficial to him, and choose to renounce his citizenship when it is inconvenient for him.

    Mindef should consider stiffer penalties for anyone who renounces his citizenship in a bid to evade national service.

    Patrick Tan Siong Kuan



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