Singapore Government

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

For NSmen

Support for NSmen

As a soldier, a father, son, husband, brother or employee, you play an indispensable role in the defence of our nation.  As assets of our country, your health, welfare and well-being are vital to MINDEF.

To ensure full support of your welfare, MINDEF has designed services, training and welfare facilities, benefits and compensation schemes to provide for you as an NSman and employee.

  • Service Pay

    What is Service Pay?
    Service Pay is equivalent to the NS allowance, and is dependent on your rank and the vocation you are holding. This reflects the different responsibilities each NSman shoulders. If you are holding a combat vocation, your service pay will include a combat allowance.

    Service pay will be given to you each day of your NS training including weekends and public holidays. It will be pro-rated based on the duration of your NS training. A minimum half-day service pay will be credited to you for NS activities of 4 hours or less.

    While service pay may not be an accurate measure of compensation for your commitments towards the defence of Singapore, it serves as recognition of your contribution to NS each day.

    How is service pay calculated?

    Example:

    Monthly service pay of an Infantry 3SG $990.00
    (A)    Period of NS training
            Service Pay
    5 Apr 2010 (0800hrs) to 11 Apr 2010 (1159hrs)
    7/30 days x $990.00 = $231.00
    (B)    Period of NS training
            Service Pay
    5 Apr 2010 (0800hrs) to 5 Apr 2010 (1200hrs)
    0.5/30 days x $990.00 = $16.50

    *Note that from 1 April 2010, you will receive an annual increment dependent on the satisfactory completion of your NS activity in the preceding work year (1 April to 31 March).

    Make-Up Pay

    What is Make-Up Pay (MUP)?
    MUP is a reimbursement for any civilian income loss you suffered as a result of having to attend your NS training. Any NSman who is gainfully employed or self-employed is eligible to claim MUP. Please note that MUP is claimable only if there is an overlap between your civilian working hours and the NS training. Any loss of income suffered outside the duration of NS training will not be compensated by MINDEF.

    NSmen’s attention is drawn to:
    a.    Regulation 9 of the Enlistment (Loss of Salaries and Wages – Reimbursement) Regulation, 1978:
    -    Authorised personnel from MINDEF may conduct visits to companies to verify the make-up pay claims. Employers/NSmen are requested to give access to the required documents related to the claim.

    b.    Regulation 10(2) of the Enlistment (Loss of Salaries and Wages – Reimbursement) Regulation, 1978:
    -    If there is any dispute on the decision given on MUP claim, the NSman must notify MINDEF in writing, stating the grounds of the dispute and supported by the necessary documentary evidence, not later than 3 weeks from the date on which the decision on the claim is given.

    c.    Regulation 11 of the Enlistment (Loss of Salaries and Wages – Reimbursement) Regulation, 1978:
    -    Any person who gives false or misleading information in respect of MUP claims shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

    How is my MUP calculated?

    Example:

    Monthly service pay of an Infantry 3SG

    $990.00

    Period of NS training

    5 Apr 2010 (0800hrs) to 11 Apr 2010 (1159hrs)

    Service Pay

    7/30 days  x $990.00 = $231.00

    Civilian Income Loss

    5 days of civilian pay = $500.0

    Net Financial Loss

    Civilian pay loss – Service pay
    = $500.00 - $231.00= $269.00

    Make Up Pay

    $269.00

    When you attend the NS activity, your employer deducts 5 days of your civilian pay from your income for April amounting to $500.00. You will then lose a net finance of $269.00 ($500.00 - $231.00) after considering the deduction by your employer and your service pay for the training.

    How do I claim MUP?
    You can claim your MUP through online submission at NS Portal (www.ns.sg) or download the hardcopy claim forms from NS Portal and follow the instructions.

    What are my claim options?
    (A)    NSmen who are civil servants:

    If you are a public servant working in Ministries and Statutory Boards, note that your employer will continue to pay your full salary for the duration of your call-up. You will then not be paid service pay and make-up pay. However, you will only be paid service pay if your call-ups are conducted entirely outside of working hours.

    (B)    NSmen who are employed:

    Option 1:
    Direct Reimbursement to Employers of Claims for NS Training Scheme (DIRECT) [Optional Scheme for Employers]

    Your employer continues to pay you as per your normal pay schedule and reimbursement from MINDEF will be made to your employer. In this instance, you are not required to file a claim.

    *Note that this is an optional scheme for your employers, i.e. you would need to inform your employers to opt into this scheme by registering online at NS Portal (www.ns.sg)!

    Option 2:
    Payment to the NSman


    You will be reimbursed directly by MINDEF once your employer certify and submit your MUP claim to MINDEF.

    (C)    NSmen who are self-employed:

    You can choose from the option that suits you best. Note that once an option is chosen for a particular training, it is irrevocable.

    Option 1: Income Tax Option
    Your monthly income will be calculated based on your average monthly trade (self-employment) income as shown in your Income Tax Notice of Assessment (NA) for the year of NS Training.

    As your trade income for the year will not be available at the time of your claim submission, a provisional payment will be made based on your latest available trade income. Thereafter, an adjustment will be made when the trade income of the year of training is available.

    In the event is there is an underpayment, arrears will be paid to you. If there should be any overpaid amount, it will be recovered from you. Overpayments may also be recovered from your subsequent MUP claims.

    Your trade income for provisional payment and the final adjusted amount will be obtained directly from IRAS.

    Option 2: Average Income Option
    Your monthly income will be calculated based on your average income earned in the 6 months before the NS training.

    For example, if you are a doctor or a transport driver, you can claim replacement fees incurred when you engage a replacement staff to fulfill your duties during your absence.

    What is the deadline for MUP claim submission?
    All your MUP claims should be submitted 2 weeks prior to your training commencement to ensure prompt payment. If your claim is submitted after your NS training, you will only be paid your service pay first. MUP will be paid to you after your claim is approved.

    Please note that your MUP claim must be submitted within 3 months from your payment of service pay. All supporting documents can be submitted later but still within the 3 months from the payment of service pay. Thereafter, it will not be accepted.

    How will I be paid?
    All payments will be credited into your bank account number provided by you during your full-time NS or regular service. It is therefore important for you to ensure that your personal information is updated. You can update any changes on eSelf-Update at NS Portal (www.ns.sg).

    If your employer is on the DIRECT Schemes and wish to change their bank account, please ensure that they log in to eServices at NS Portal (www.ns.sg) to update the company’s particulars.

    Please note that if there is an overpayment of MUP due to whatever reason, MINDEF reserves the right to offset the excess quantum from your future NS payments, which may be in the form of service pay.

    Payment Queries
    If you have any queries on payment, you can get assistance from the following:

    Online: NS Portal (www.ns.sg)
    Email: contact@ns.sg
    Hotline: 1800-367 6767 (1800-eNSNSNS)
    Fax: 6373 1464 (For employed claims)
            6373 1449 (For self-employed claims)

    Awards & Allowances

    To recognise your potential and help you reach your optimal performance in your NS training, MINDEF has initiated various incentives:

    (A)    Awards

    For more details on Awards, read more at: Recognition

    (B)    Allowances

    • Aircrew Allowance
    • Commando Jump Bounty
    • Diving Allowance
    • Flying Allowance
    • Key Appointment Holder – KAH(NS) Allowance
      -    You will be paid over and above your make-up pay (MUP) with Key Appointment Holder (NS) and Responsibility (NS) allowance, if you are a NS key command or a staff appointment holder.
    • Responsibility (NS) Allowance
    • Command Appointment Add-On Allowance (with effect from 1 May 2010)
    SAF Group Insurance Scheme

    Your safety is of utmost importance during your NS training. All NS activities require adherence to strict safety regulations. As such, we have specially arranged for you the SAF Group Insurance Scheme. This is underwritten by Aviva Ltd and provides for you 24 hours worldwide coverage and it is comprehensive and kept at a minimal cost.

    All NSmen aged 55 and below are eligible to apply. Your dependent male children are also eligible for coverage from age 14 days to their 18th year birthday; and female children from age 14 days to 25. Under this scheme, you and your spouse can continue to enjoy this insurance scheme up to age 70. This insurance pays for all forms of death (except suicide within one year from the date of commencement of insurance), total and permanent disablement and permanent partial dismemberment arising from personal accident.

    Details of Scheme

    (A)    Fees and Sum Insured

    Under the SAF Group Insurance Scheme, you have the option of selecting the sum assured in multiples of $10,000, from a minimum of $20,000 to a maximum of $600,000. For each insured sum of $10,000, you only have to pay a monthly premium of $1.28 and $1.00 for your dependents.

    (B)    Rebates

    When you participate in this scheme, you can expect to receive rebates for your annual premiums in a “good year” (i.e. a year in which claims paid out to policyholders are lesser than the total premiums received).

    The rebates paid out in the last 3 policy years averaged at about 34% of total premium paid by policyholders. Based on the revised rate of $1.28 and $1.00 for you and your dependents respectively, this in effect means that policyholders pay a monthly premium of only $0.85 and $0.66 per $10,000 coverage for you and your dependants.

    (C)    Payment Method

    Premiums for the sum insured will be deducted monthly through GIRO.

    For more information of the scheme, please contact:

    Aviva Ltd Customer Service
    Hotline: 6827 8000, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm (excluding Public Holidays)
    Email: saf_insurance@aviva-asia.com

    Tax Relief

    All eligible NSmen will get a base tax relief quantum of $1,500 per year. If you have performed NS activities in the previous work year (i.e. from 1 Apr to 31 Mar), you will receive an additional $1,500, i.e. a net total of $3,000.

    If you are a NS key command or a staff appointment holder, you will be given an additional quantum of $2,000 in recognition of your substantial contribution.

    If you are an ex-NSmen or NS-liable ex-regular servicemen above statutory age, you will be given a base quantum of $1,500.

    Your parents and spouse (who must be Singapore Citizens) will also receive a tax relief of $750 per year.

    Only NSmen who have not committed any disciplinary or criminal offences in the preceding work year are eligible for tax relief.

    e-Prep Scheme

    This is a MINDEF initiative to recognise our full-time NSF’s contribution to Singapore’s defence and continued stability. In return, we offer an online preparatory and refresher courses to them while they are in service to facilitate from full-time NS to either join the workforce or further their studies. There are no restrictions to the number of courses that each NSF can sign up. All e-Prep courses are priced at an affordable rate, which are significantly lower than the market rate.

    Who is eligible?
    All NSFs are eligible for e-Prep during their last 12 months of service and continues to be eligible for this benefit within 1 year after their ORD. They will be notified by post individually when they are eligible.

    Details of e-Prep
    Every NSF will be allocated $350 worth of credits to subsidise for the courses that he subscribes.  As a guide, MINDEF will subsidise up to 90% of the course fee, subject to the maximum subsidy given or the credit balance of the NSF, whichever is higher. For example, for a $100 course, the NSF will pay $10 and MINDEF will bear the remainder $90. Note that any subsidies that are not consumed within 1 year after the NSF’s ORD will be forfeited.

    Category of Courses
    There are now 12 participating training providers, which includes local Institutes of Higher Learning, and e-learning vendors. These vendors offer more than 1,500 course titles in 3 broad categories:

    1. Academic Courses:
      These courses aim to help the NSFs refresh and update their academic knowledge from previous learning and to facilitate transitions into further studies. Such courses are usually provided by Institutions of Higher Learning. Having completed selected courses, NSFs would get a head start in their educational pursuits after their fulltime service.
    2. Professional Certification and Technical Courses:
      These are predominantly technical courses like, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, which will add value to a non-technical certification course to enhance the NSF’s employability.
    3. Enabling Skills (“Soft Soft Skills”) Courses:
      These courses aim to provide the NSFs with generic knowledge, skills and attitudes to succeed in the workplace or further studies.

    How to Participate?
    Participation to this scheme is strictly voluntary.

    All available e-Prep courses are published on the internet and for convenience, NSFs can e-learn from the comfort of their own homes or in their camps as long as there are internet facilities. Military training and duties will take precedence over the participation in this scheme.

    NSFs can refer to NS Portal (www.ns.sg) for more information on this scheme. They may also view their credit allocation and balance, records of their past attended courses and the available range of courses.

    All course applications can be done online and once the 10% co-payment is made to the course provider, the NSF will be granted access to the course material.

    For assistance or clarifications on this scheme, the NSF can contact:

    NS Call Centre: 1800-eNSNSNS (1800-3676767)
    Email: contact@ns.sg
    SMS: eNSNS (36767)

    SAFRA National Service Association

    SAFRA is a network of clubs that seeks to provide quality social, recreational, sports and educational facilities that will benefit you and your families.

    As a SAFRA member, you can enjoy discounts, privileges and services. The offerings include:

    • Access to facilities at all SAFRA clubs
    • Discounts at over 650 popular dining and retail outlets
    • Rewards programme that offers redeemable products and services through SAFRAPOINTS
    • Discounted movie tickets at Golden Village cinemas
    • Attractive travel packages
    • Attractive low premium insurance schemes
    • Special rates for local chalets at Costa Sands and Bintan Villas
    • Educational sponsorship and benefits for selected courses from UniSIM, SMa School of Management, SAA, MIS, Kaplan Financial, TMC and more
    • Free legal information service

    SAFRA Cohesion Building Programme (CBP)

    The SAFRA Cohesion Building Programme (CBP) was formed to increase esprit de corps amongst you and your unit. CBP provides subsidy scheme that helps to defray the cost of organising unit cohesion activities depending on the participating number strength on a per head basis and the type of activity.

    For more information on SAFRA packages or programme, please contact:

    Website: www.safra.sg
    Membership Enquiries: mship_svc@safra.sg
    Cohesion Building Prrogramme Enquiries: cohesion@safra.sg
    General Enquiries: hq@safra.sg

    Medical Services

    (A)    Medical Treatment

    You may seek medical attention to any SAF medical centre during your ICT. The medical officer may refer you to a restructured hospital for further treatment if the facilities or recourses are unavailable at the medical centre; or if there is a need for follow-up after your ICT. Note that MINDEF will only subsidise medical expenses incurred by you that fall within the prevailing guidelines.

    (B)    Dental Treatment

    You may only seek urgent dental treatment at SAF Dental Centres for emergency dental conditions that arise during your ICT. (E.g. acute toothache, acute gum swelling, etc.)

    (C)    Medical Review – New/Existing Medical Conditions

    It is crucial that you update your NS HRCs if you develop a new medical condition or if an existing medical condition has worsened, which may affect your ICT performance. This is so that arrangements will be made for you to attend a medical review at the SAF medical centre to assess your fitness condition for NS.

    You MUST bring along all your investigation results and memorandums from your external physician or specialist during your medical review. You may be given a medical certificate for ICT deferment, be scheduled for a medical board to downgrade you if your medical condition is significant, or be referred to a restructured hospital for further examination depending on the outcome of your medical review.

    If your medical condition is deemed suited for ICT participation by the medical officer, you will then be allowed to attend ICT.

    Welfare Services

    You and your families’ welfare is important, as such, the SAF Personnel Services Centre (PSC) is here to manage and administer your welfare benefits.

    For more information or assistance on the available welfare services, please contact your unit’s admin.

    NSmen Asset Enhancement Schemes

    Preferential rebates may be given to NSmen whenever the Government introduces any asset enhancement schemes. Examples of NSmen Asset Enhancement Schemes are the additional allotment of Growth Dividends and GST Credits.

    Compensation

    (A)    Service Injuries

    If you sustained an injury during your NS training, it may be considered as attributable to service only when service is the cause of injury. If you sustained an injury during ICT, you are required to report immediately to your unit’s Medical Officer and unit S1. This is so that your unit can arrange to attend to your injury, and document your injury sustained in your medical docket.

    Before MINDEF determines that an injury is attributable to service, you are responsible for bearing all medical expenses. Treatment for your injury must be sought at government or restructured hospitals at your eligible ward and referred to by a government or SAF Medical Officer.

    In the case of permanent disablement due to service injury, a medical board will be convened. Eligibility for disability compensation will be based on the degree of residual permanent disability as endorsed by the SAF Medical Board.

    If your service injury requires continuous medical or hospitalisation leave beyond your ICT period, you are eligible for a stepped-down compensation as a form of ex-gratia payment. Compensation will be based on your civilian pay or an equivalent regular serviceman’s pay (whichever is higher) if you do not receive any income from your employers. This ex-gratia payment is compensation for your loss of income during this period. Payment will cease when you are no longer on medical/hospitalisation leave or when disability compensation is paid, whichever is earlier.

    (B)    Non-Service Injuries

    i.    Satisfactory Completion of NS Training
    If you are given medical leave for non-service injuries but are able to complete your NS training satisfactorily, your medical leave will be considered as part of NS training. You will be eligible for service pay and MUP for the completed NS training duration, inclusive of all periods of medical leave.

    ii.    Disruption from NS Training
    If you are given medical leave for non-service injuries and your unit has disrupted you from NS training, you are eligible for service pay and MUP till the end of your medical leave or original NS training, whichever is earlier. The payment of service pay and MUP from the date of disruption is made on an ex-gratia basis and is restricted to the first medical certificate you submit.

    iii.    Deferment from NS Training
    If you report sick on the first day of NS training and are granted deferment on the same day, you will not be eligible for service pay and MUP for any period of medical leave. You will, however, be eligible for service pay and MUP for the time spent at the unit to seek consultation with your unit’s Medical Officer or to get your medical certificate endorsed.

  • Awards

    Your performance as a soldier may earn you recognition in the form of individual or shared awards.

    (A)    National Service HOusing, Medical and Education (NS HOME) Awards for National Servicemen

    The National Service HOusing, Medical and Education (NS HOME) Awards aim to strengthen our National Servicemen’s (NSmen) stake in the country and support their needs in housing, healthcare and education. The NS HOME Awards replace the National Service Recognition Award (NSRA).

    More details on NS HOME Awards here.

    (B)    ORNS Completion Award

    The ORNS Completion Award is to recognise and commend you on your service and completion of ORNS and 10 years of NS training.

    With effect from 29 August, 2010, all Singapore Permanent Resident who have completed ORNS training cycle and phased into MINDEF Reserved will also be eligible for this award. For Singapore citizens, the ORNS Completion Award will be replaced by the 3rd milestone of the National Service Recognition Award.

    What benefits will I receive?

    i.    Monetary Reward
          You will receive a monetary reward of $300, which will be paid into your Central Provident Fund (CPF) account.

    ii.    Gift Watch
          You may receive a gift watch either upon completion of 10 years ORNS or completion of your ORNS training cycle, whichever is earlier.

    Medals

    To recognise your achievement you get during your training, you may be awarded medals at different stages of your ORNS training cycle.

    Some of the medals include: the Good Service Medal, NS Medal/Clasp, 20 year-year Long Service and Good Conduct Medal/Clasp.

    For you to qualify for these awards, it depends on:

    • Your NS performance;
    • Number of High Key (HK) ICT you have attended; and
    • ORNS training years you have completed.
    Promotions

    Your performance is observed during your ICT and if you show potential for higher appointments and responsibilities, you may be considered for promotion.

    To qualify a promotion, you are measured by:

    • Your NS performance;
    • Number of High Key (HK) ICT you have attended; and
    • ORNS training years you have completed.
    Family Recognition Voucher

    To recognise the importance of family support in maintaining NSmen's commitment to defence and NS training, NSmen who are recipients of Awards/Letters of Commendation or who have performed outstandingly during In-Camp Training (ICT) or courses, will be presented with $100 worth of vouchers so that they could spend with their families. These vouchers could be used on a range of rewarding experiences.   

    Since Aug 12, the initiative has been enhanced to allow NSmen to select their rewards packages on-line. The list of rewards packages has also been expanded. Eligible NSmen will be presented with a congratulation letter by their Commanders at the point of eligibility ie at the end of their ICT/course or Award ceremony. 3 weeks from the notification, they would be able to select their choice rewards package on-line via NS Portal. NSmen are required to choose and utilise their rewards package within 13 months from being awarded.

    New rewards packages that have been added include beach breaks at local and overseas resort, family fun activities (Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Universal Studios, SAFRA etc), gourmet experience (Imperial Cheng Ho cruise, Singapore Flyer etc), spa and wellness activities and travel services. A preview of the reward packages is available at www.ns.sg/benefits/frv.


  • Contribution to National Defence by Maybank – Posted 08 Aug 2012

    National Service has played a key role not only in the defense of Singapore, but also in the building of our Nation. Relatedly, this has been made possible through the continued sacrifices and contributions of employers and our workforce in supporting national service.
     
    John Israel Chan, a Product Manager (Housing Loans) in Maybank, and concurrently an NSMen from 443 Singapore Armoured Regiment described his NS contributions, "I was presented a letter of commendation from SAF for my performance and contribution during my month-long in-camp training (ICT) in 2011. I take my in-camp training seriously because I believe peace time should not be taken for granted.
     
    He added, "I was able to focus on my ICT as I had peace of mind knowing that my work is properly attended to. The bank is supportive as there is proper work-cover arrangement while I was away. Some of my training mates had to pick up calls from work, but my team refrained from making calls to me. For that, I'm really grateful."
     
    His superior, Ms Yvonne Yip, Head (Housing & Retail Loans) added, "It is always a challenge when a team member has to be away from the office over an extended period of time. Maybank's values, which include teamwork, are strongly entrenched in all of us in the team, and that was precisely the winning formula that enabled us to manage during John's absence."

    Contributing to National Defence by Bendemeer Primary School – Posted 08 Aug 2012

    In Bendemeer Primary School, school leaders, NS employees and other teaching staff have a common understanding of a mutually beneficial relationship in terms of appreciating and understanding the importance, dynamics, integrity and purpose of fulfilling NS (NS) obligations. All these bring on a value-added commitment towards the school knowing that NS employees themselves have a piece of mind when it comes to NS commitments, and they in turn put forth an even higher capacity at work upon returning to school.
     
    Principal of Bendemeer Primary School, Mrs See Lai Kwan, always gives her full support towards the male NS employees on the importance to fulfill their NS duties. Relief teachers are then sourced to take over their classes in their absence.
     
    Mr. Abdul Rani B Idris, Vice-Principal of Bendemeer Primary School echoes in agreement and says:
     
    "As a school leader and full-time NSman myself, I strongly support and is committed in ensuring my male NS teachers be operationally ready to fulfill their NS roles. This is done through our school policies and programmes which aim to support our staff in experiencing good physical, emotional and social well-being in their daily work."
     
    NS employees attest what they learnt during NS empowers them with many strategies at communicating, grouping and tasking, building up team spirit amongst colleagues to get any task done.
     
    Mr. Lee Jun Ming, Alvin, Primary Four Level Manager, Social Studies Coordinator and NS Battalion Manpower Officer says:
     
    "I plan and coordinate Learning Journeys for the school. Safety is a priority for all participants. As a NS Battalion S1, I learn to strategize on pupils and teachers deployment, develop the Risk Assessment Management Plan, do a site recce of the Learning Journey location, oversee the execution on the actual day, liaise with vendors, book buses and request for parent volunteers etc. A contingency plan comes in to play if things don't go your way. You can see that I have also to assume roles of the various SAF Staff appointments in my line of work. Well, these are just a fraction of the takeaways from my NS days as a commander."
     
    In addition, the NS employee feels honored to share his duties and nature of his NS unit to raise awareness and to reinforce Total Defence in general to both teachers and pupils. Through the support of the school leaders and school department heads, the school has many examples to share:
     
    In 2010, a military themed permanent display was set up in the school hall showcasing uniforms, equipment and personal effects of the Japanese and British infantryman of World War Two and comparing these to the modern SAF items. Pupils were able to wear and appreciate these items. Non NS employees were able to use these to enhance their Social Studies and National Education lessons to have that hands-on interactive experience.
     
    In 2011, as part of Total Defence Day, all male teachers wore their NS service uniforms proudly. Their vocations and contributions were acknowledged to all pupils and staff to raise the awareness that our male staff is active NS men besides being teachers.
     
    For Total Defence Day 2012, Mr Lee personally sought special permission from Commander CBRE Defence Group, to showcase Chemical Defence items and uniforms in the school and the unit's operations were explained to the pupils. Staff and pupils were given the opportunity to put on gas masks and Individual Protection Equipment. This is akin to bringing the unit closer to the school for exposure even in the primary school level.
     
    Mr Lee sums up his support about NS. He says:
     
    "I always believe that NS continues outside of In-Camp Training, mobilisation etc. It is about educating and exposing our future generation to the capabilities of the Singapore Armed Forces. As a NS Officer and educator, I combine my previous NS experiences with what I can teach to bring the best to my pupils. I even show them the Temasek Green uniforms from my NCC days, the combat uniforms and field gear I wore during my NS to let them understand their place in Singapore's defence. Each piece of my SAF artifact tells a story but it's through these interactions that the NS experience is internalized and preserved. I get that satisfaction when many of my pupils say they want to be a good soldier in NS when they grow up. In fact, I even met some of them at the Army Open House 2012!"

    Mr Alvin Lee (right) proudly displaying his army uniform with fellow NS colleagues during Total Defence Day 2011. From left, Mr Azimi B Ahmad and Mr Tan Hwee Kheng, the Operations Manager of the school.

    NS men teachers and pupils of the various uniformed CCAs preparing to sing the national anthem during Total Defence Day 2011.

    Mr Alvin Lee (right) with teachers and pupils after a assembly skit on the awareness of Chemical Defence during Total Defence Day 2012. Female colleagues also got a taste of wearing gas masks and Individual Protective Equipment.

    Employer Support in National Service by Khoo Sze Boon – Posted 16 May 2012

    I joined Davis Langdon & Seah (DLS) Singapore in 1999 as the executive director and was enlisted in 1993 as an artillery officer in 21st Singapore Artillery (21 SA).
     
    Briefly, DLS attained the Total Defence Award for many years. We participated in the CRC (Combined Rededication Ceremony) since 1999 during the SAF day. We stepped up and went forward to participate in the Minister for Defence Awards League in 2010 (MiDAs).
     
    Why is it important for employers to continually support national service? In DLS's case, our firm has been in existence since 1934, before World War II, almost heading towards 80 years old. The firm went through phases of nation building since the 1930s, and 'stability' is very essential, especially in the built environment industry, which we operate under. Therefore, we find that it is essential for us to support national service, and do our part as employers.
     
    For a large organisation, we face operational challenges and disruptions, when we support our staffs and workforce to participate in national service activities, but we manage this objectively. Essentially, we have built an understanding within the company, which comprises of staffs from different nationalities. This 'understanding' drills down to us disseminating our national service call up notifications to the immediate line managers, and the planning starts to adjust the affected personnels' work.
     
    There is actually a system where the directors and assistant directors work very closely with the staff to cover one another under each project. Such that should there be instances where one staff is away, there will always be someone else covering them. Nonetheless, we are somewhat contactable even though we are away for national service commitments. In fact, there's a mutual understanding even from our colleagues who do not serve national service. For example, our female colleagues cover our duties when we are away for national service call ups; but likewise, we too cover their jobs when they are on leave or on holidays.
     
    We also make it an effort to cascade down the important of national defence not only to Singaporeans, but also to non singaporeans, and staff members who do not serve national service. One example was in 2010 and 2011, where we involved the entire office to participate in the combined rededication ceremony. We conducted it in the context of a lunch celebration, with videos and showed past NS photos of some of our staffs in various period of NS, even those who wore the 'Temasek Green' uniform.
     
    To conclude, companies should continue to support national service beyond NS45 because it contribute to the peace and stability of Singapore, as defence lays the cornerstone and foundation of Singapore's stability.

    Put your best foot forward – 09 May 2012

    Story by Sherlyn Quek
    Photos courtesy of Charles & Keith Pte Ltd

    "Good shoes take you to good places". This line certainly rings true for Lance Corporal (LCP) (NS) Charles Wong, one half of the brothers who founded eponymous local brand Charles & Keith.

    Can a woman ever have enough shoes? Ask any fashionista, and the answer is likely to be an emphatic "No".

    The Wong brothers have certainly capitalised on women's love for shoes. From working at their parents' shoe shop in Ang Mo Kio to launching their very own store in Amara Shopping Centre in 1996, the two entrepreneurs have since built their company into a major footwear and accessories retailer.

    After establishing a firm foothold in Singapore, the brothers have boldly ventured overseas and today, there are over 250 outlets in 31 countries. You can even find them in far-flung regions such as Bahrain, Estonia and Kuwait!

    They expanded their business empire with Pedro - which carries both men and women's footwear - in 2005, and added high-end shoe line The Signature Label to the mix in 2007.

    Small wonder, then, that luxury goods retail giant LVMH has become a "sole-mate", acquiring a 20 percent stake in Charles & Keith last year for more than $30 million.

    LCP (NS) Wong also bagged the 2012 Channel NewsAsia Luminary Awards' Future Business Luminary Award, which recognises young entrepreneurs below the age of 45 who embrace forward-thinking business ideals and risk to take their business to a higher level.

    If the shoe fits

    Forget the old cliches about how hard work equals success. That's because putting in effort is a given. Besides time and dedication, being innovative and seizing the right opportunities when they come along play equally important roles in this home-grown success story.

    On advice that he would offer budding entrepreneurs, LCP (NS) Wong said: "Resilience and a positive mindset will help combat the inevitable challenges you will encounter when starting a business, and even more so in the long run. Do not be afraid of failure, have an open mind and be adaptable to changes."

    In fact, the main motivation to setting up his own business came when he and younger brother Keith, who served as an Armour Support Mortar Man in the 48th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment, recognised the market potential for producing footwear that fit Asian feet, which were smaller than their Western counterparts.

    An initial challenge they faced was being unable to control the quality and designs of the shoes they sold as they did not work directly with suppliers. Cutting out the middlemen proved to be the way to go.

    "During the Asian Economic crisis, we saw the opportunity to work directly with some of the factories, enabling us to have more control over the design and manufacturing process and to bring across the essence of our brand more effectively," said LCP (NS) Wong.

    "Today, with a headcount of over 500 staff, the company oversees the entire process from design to manufacturing, production and supply."

    Walk the talk

    While his younger brother works with the design team, LCP (NS) Wong heads the operations side of the business and currently works from Shanghai to tap into the burgeoning China market.

    "International expansion and growing the business in China continues to be a part of of our brand's growth strategies," said the ambitious 38-year-old.

    "With the aim to open 500 stores in China in the next five years...innovation and creativity are required to keep the brand relevant to the consumers in these markets."

    Even as a young Full-time National Serviceman, he made an effort to keep his eye on the prize.

    While fellow batch-mates returned home and spent time with loved ones over the weekend, LCP (NS) Wong would go to his parents' store to assess how well the business had done and to plan stock buying and selling strategies for the next week.

    Calling National Service (NS) a tough training ground, the Tengah Air Base Field Defence Squadron security trooper, who completed his NS cycle in 2007, said: "While training was demanding and physically strenuous, I believe most guys developed a much stronger character after NS. It taught me life skills like teamwork, discipline and perseverance which are applicable to running a business as well."

    He added: "Running a company is akin to running a battalion. There needs to be a platoon of driven team players in order for the platoon to overcome obstacles (much like the growth of a budding company) together.

    "These are qualities I hold in high regard and continue to instil in my colleagues."

    "There needs to be a platoon of driven team players in order for the platoon to overcome obstacles (much like the growth of a budding company) together."
    - LCP (NS) Wong on how running a business is akin to running a battalion

Last updated on 05 Sep 2012

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