Posted by theonlinecitizen on December 27, 2011
~by: Leong Sze Hian~
I refer to the article “8,800 PRs served NS in last five years” (Straits Times dated Nov 23).
It states that “About 8,800 male foreigners, who became permanent residents (PRs) under the sponsorship of their parents, enlisted for and served national service (NS) over the last five years”.
1 in 3 don”t serve NS
As “Over the same period, some 4,200 foreigners, who had become PRs under the sponsorship of their parents, renounced their PR status prior to serving NS”, it means that about 32 per cent or 1 in 3, gave up their PR status to skip NS.
Don’t serve NS, hard to return: Really?
With regard to “These PRs were warned about the consequences of their action at the point of renouncing their PR status. ‘Their failure to serve NS will be taken into account when they subsequently apply to study or work in Singapore”, given that people have written to forums, such as Sreedharan Sechachalam’s letter (“PRs who do not serve NS may not be at a disadvantage”, Today, Nov 29), which said:
“Based on personal observations as a doctor who studied medicine here, I am not confident that the ground situation reflects the stated policy.
I know of renouncers who were admitted to the National University of Singapore’s highly competitive medical school, to which, every year, some straight-As Singaporean students fail to gain admission.
At a higher level, some renouncers have been admitted to speciality training programmes which are sought after by many Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans. Those who complete these programmes will qualify to be specialist doctors in the public or private sector.
In my academic or professional life, I am fortunate not to have been in a situation where I had to compete with renouncers. I have nothing personal, either, against these individuals, who are good doctors but not particularly outstanding.
But if their admission to study and work here is in accordance with existing policies, what then are these policies? I am sure there are similar examples in other industries.
From a pragmatic viewpoint, I do not suggest a blanket ban for all who renounce their PR status prior to serving NS. However, I would like to be assured that there are valid reasons for allowing them to study and work here.
And if they are permitted to do so, they must be put at a relative disadvantage, in some manner, for not having performed NS. This will further strengthen the mindset of those who serve NS that they do have an edge in applying to study or work here.
Perhaps the authorities could disclose the number of renouncers still studying or working here”.
I think perhaps we need to ask for more statistics such as:
How many who renounced their PR were allowed to return to work or stay?
How many who renounced their PR who applied to return to work or stay were rejected?
How many renouncers are still working or studying here?
How many renouncers never left Singapore, as the above letter by Sreedharan Sechachalam seems to suggest? – If “renouncers (who) were admitted to the National University of Singapore’s highly competitive medical school, to which, every year, some straight-As Singaporean students fail to gain admission”, does it mean that they never left Singapore in the first place?
Finally, instead of a subjective policy at one’s discretion like “Their failure to serve NS will be taken into account when they subsequently apply to study or work in Singapore”, how about disclosing the criteria or guidelines to make the decision whether to accept or reject a PR renouncer’s application to work or stay in Singapore?