KH Security Agency Pte Ltd Operations Manager Sam Lim (centre) once drove 3SG(NS) Chan (left) back to camp for his ICT when he could not get a cab.Click to view Gallery
Making special work arrangements, rewarding the staff with monetary incentives when they do well in their National Service training, and putting in place no-deferment policies. These are just some of the ways which companies support their employees who are Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen).
"As employers, you play a large role in Total Defence, especially in the support you provide to NSmen. I would tell you that without your strong support and unstinting commitment to NS (National Service), we would not have a strong SAF (Singapore Armed Forces), as we have today, capable of deterring threats and defending Singapore," said Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, at the annual Total Defence Awards (TDA) presentation ceremony held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on 2 Aug.
His message was not lost on this year's recipients. "As we are in the security industry, it's very relevant for us to support Total Defence, and we see it as a form of service to our nation. Many of our employees are NSmen, so we actually want to make it as easy as possible for them when they go for their In-Camp Training (ICT)," said Mr Gary Haris, Senior Business Development Manager of KH Security Agency Pte Ltd.
A Minister for Defence Award (MDA) recipient for its exemplary support for Total Defence, KH Security Agency Pte Ltd keeps tracks of mobilisation codewords so that it can inform its NSmen employees when they are activated. In addition, employees get to leave work early for physical fitness training and even get extra rest days before or after their ICT.
"It's very blissful to be working in such an environment. What’s great about this is that if I receive an ICT call-up, I just need to let my boss know about it, and my company will handle the rest. I don't have to worry about it at all," said 3SG(NS) Chan Meng Chuen, Senior Security Officer.
One memorable instance for 3SG(NS) Chan was when he received a call-up for ICT just two to three weeks into his new job and could not flag a cab to go back to camp.
"I gave my manager a call, and he actually came down to my place to drive me to camp!" exclaimed the 26-year-old.
In fact, KH Security Agency Pte Ltd is so enthusiastic in its support for NSmen employees that it has even influenced other business associates or clients to give their support to NS too. And one of these companies, Cleaning Express Pte Ltd, eventually became a TDA recipient as well.
"People may not be aware of how we can support or help our NSmen, and this is something that I hope to share with other security companies, so that more companies can come on board," said Mr Haris.
This year, 10 companies received the pinnacle MDA for their exemplary support for Total Defence; 114 companies received the Distinguished Defence Partner Award (DDPA) and 390 companies received the Meritorious Defence Partner Award (MDPA).
At the ceremony, Dr Ng emphasised the importance of being prepared for crises and the continued ability to withstand adversities as they come.
Citing the recent haze situation as an example, he noted how individual Singaporeans and companies rallied together to protect the health of the vulnerable groups and to ensure smooth business operations. "These responses give us some assurance that our efforts in Total Defence are bearing fruit," he said.
Mr Cheng Koon Hua could not agree more. The Managing Director of DDPA recipient Syntax Enclosure System Pte Ltd believes that if his employees have good health, they will perform well in the company.
"We are building a gym to encourage all our NSmen employees to pass their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT). With this new gym, we will be giving $200 to all our NSmen who achieve at least a pass for their IPPT," said the ex-regular from the Republic of Singapore Navy.
A strong advocate of the no-deferment policy, Syntax Enclosure System Pte Ltd also has a buddy system to minimise work disruptions. This allows one employee to know what exactly the other is doing, so that when one of them goes for ICT, the other can take over the job smoothly and the former’s commission will not be affected.
"During my recent ICT, I was away on an overseas exercise for 21 days, and my buddy took over my job. We believe that what goes around comes around. So when it's his turn to go for ICT, I will take over his job!" laughed MSG(NS) Jason Tan Cher Yan, Sales Executive.
The award presentation was part of Total Defence Symposium 2013, which was organised to strengthen further the partnership between the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and employers and civil resource owners.
Earlier on, Senior Minister of State for Defence Chan Chun Sing chaired a panel discussion at the Employers' Forum, where employers shared and discussed the best practices to support NS. Also present at the forum were Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng, Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Ravinder Singh, as well as members of the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) and the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence.