Getting into this box is what's best for both of us. During your time in the box, you will learn so much, and yet experience so little. It's a wild ride, my friend, one well worth the time spent...and let's face it, you don't have much to do these days anyway.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Singaporean government asks national servicemen to provide feedback on conscription.

What it says on the tin.
Over the next six months, Singaporeans will be asked for feedback on how to better recognise and motivate national servicemen.

The Committee to Strengthen National Service, announced in March, will lead focus group discussions and town hall sessions while also conducting online consultation sessions via a new website, 

The Committee, which met for the first time on Wednesday, expects its work to be done within a year.

Made up of 20 members, including Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Members of Parliament, military top brass and private sector employers, the committee will use the feedback gathered to recommend measures to enhance National Service as a critical institution for Singapore's continued survival and success.
Like asking women how to go about dating other women, I have some reservations of the efficacy of this proposed course of action: most NSmen won't have the foggiest idea how to make themselves more motivated, those who do have the correct ideas won't be able to articulate said ideas properly so the government understands, and those who have an idea and can articulate themselves generally have no incentive to tell the government the truth. Given the chance, the average NSman is going to try and sway for as little interruption to his daily life as possible, which in all probability is going to run counter to the government's interests.

But me? What does poor old me think will encourage Singaporean men to be more motivated towards conscription? The natural cynic in me will, of course, say: "nothing". Conscription suffers from the same problem as all forms of coerced labour, that individuals will tend to do the minimum required to get by without serious punishment and will take every opportunity to underperform, which is why you see such a difference between regulars and conscripts.

To be honest, my suggestion would be to observe what NSmen do when, say, they're called up for in-camp training or even and take (and often fail) their physical fitness tests. What they say in the coffeeshops, when they think no one's watching, how they react when receiving notification of in-camp training, how their employers, co-workers, and families deal with it. All right, so you don't want to get too intrusive, you take a look at how young men behave when they report to CMPB for their medical exam, you study trends of IPPT defaulters -

But you see, that would take some planning and effort, and require a higher caliber of "civil servant" than of the sort who is paid to sift through mounds upon mounds of inane comments left on a website.

So long as people are aware their labour is being forced out of them, they are going to resist it and no amount of badgering is going to make them accept it wholeheartedly, only make them less grumpy about the whole thing. That's why it's essential to maintain the illusion of freedom for today's modern slave classes and have them put on their own chains.

Edit: Aurini's comment reminds me of a photo that went viral locally of a couple of local girls snerking (for lack of a better word) at full-time NSmen out on route march:

Not an encouraging sign, really.


  1. Suggestion: an advertising campaign telling young women to treat men in uniform well. If Las Vegas can convince women to turn of Facebook and Smartphones during their stay (to enable maximum slutiness), then surely a powerful government should be able to convince women that soldiers are sexy - something that they already think?

    1. It'll be an uphill battle, I'm afraid. The two to two and a half years young men spend conscripted are a notorious romance-killer. Young women are known to simply vanish from their boyfriends when they enlist and reappear a couple months in the arms of another fellow. No glory there.

      I think part of it is the fact that it's conscription instead of freely joining up in the service, which means it's no real determinant of how willing these fellows are to use violence, losing a lot of glamour and tingles in the process. It doesn't help that we've come a long way from the original Israeli-trained troops to the "thinking soldier" of the 21st century.

      It might be worth a try, though. Right now the government is simply doubling down on giving people money to get married and have children, which has not worked, isn't working and never will work.