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Posted: 09 Jul 2014, 2000 hours (GMT +8)

Written Reply by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen to Parliamentary Question on Conscientious Objectors

Assoc Prof Tan Kheng Boon Eugene: To ask the Minister for Defence (a) for the last ten years, what is the number of full-time and operationally ready national servicemen who have been detained or sanctioned for their objection to performing national service on moral or religious grounds; (b) whether there is a growing trend of such objection to serve national service in the SAF, Police and SCDF; and (c) whether alternative forms of national service can be considered subject to stringent requirements being satisfied.

Dr Ng Eng Hen: Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, are called up to perform their National Service (NS) within the SAF, SCDF or SPF. This requirement applied to all without exception is fair and necessary to maintain strong support for NS. 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 itself.

In the past ten years, about a dozen national servicemen were court-martialled and sentenced to detention each year for refusing to serve NS on religious grounds. There has been no increasing trend of such cases. 

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