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Singaporean Men: Discriminated Against or Disadvantaged Institutionally?

Molly read a post from Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong to which inspir3d from Intelligent Singaporean linked.

The issue was, as Siew casts it, one of discrimination against Singaporean males, specifically the "discrimination" against them by because they have to serve NS.

As it appears, NMP Siew seems to be speaking up against the discrimination of Singaporean men. But let's just take a step back and ask: what kind of "discrimination" is it and is it really discrimination at all?

For Siew, "an enlightened employer is one who will recognise that NS is an obligation imposed on all Singaporean males, and that an employer located in Singapore should support that. This is especially so when the decision-maker is Singaporean himself."

For Molly, Siew's logic borders on the absurd. Why should an MNC or even a local company support the the obligation imposed on all Singaporean males when it has got nothing to do with them? And why should this support be an indication of their enlightenment?

Why should an employer support the virtual enslavement (as a number of males describe it) of males by the state? Furthermore, business is business, if an employer believes that the company cannot function optimally because its male employees (not just one or two of them) are legally bound to get away from work for a few weeks a year, to be subject to sudden recall, take a fitness test, and to go for months of Remedial Training if they happen to fail their fitness test?

Siew claims that "[i]t is a short-sighted, dollars-and-cents kind of guy who just looks at numbers, who would give a job to a foreigner simply because he does not have NS liability and is cheaper since employers' CPF contribution is not payable."

But may I know how giving the job to a Singaporean male would prove to be very far-sighted if it doesn't even make economic sense?

Guys who are reading this, don't get Molly wrong. Molly does not at all think it's right to discriminate against you. But is it discrimination in the first place? If I'm employing a singer, will you say that I'm discriminating against you if I don't employ you because you are tone-deaf?

The sad thing about the plight of Singaporean males is that employers who choose them over others because of NS might not be guilty of discrimination at all. The contingencies of certain jobs require that a worker cannot be hindered by long-term, frequent obligations that carry the heavy weight of the law and the state. Obligations that last, well, not till retirement age but really till retrenchment age. (Yes, when you are middle-aged, your employer retrenches you, and the state doesn't require your obligatory services anymore. Then you can spend the remaining 40 years of your life working "for as long as you wish" and being grateful for wonderful Budgets that offer your Workfare.)

What is more saddening is the refusal on the part of the powers that be to even acknowledge that they have institutionalized a disadvantage and imposed it on Singaporean males. (But of course, it would be seditious to even think of plucking out a strand of fur from our Holy Cow.) But, in effect, people are crippled by inflexible State policies rather than being discriminated against by potential employers. Molly is of the opinion that they are crushed under the weight of a fat Holy Cow and not by the pragmatic decisions of their potential employers.

Sure, it will be great if all employers are willing to give Singaporean males jobs despite their NS obligations. But don't our great leaders love to remind us about the harsh reality of the world, the realities of globalization, etc? Isn't this one of the realities of the world, one that they have helped to create? Employers can rehash the standard retorts people get when the topic of Welfare is raised: We are not running a charity organization.

If you clip the wings of a bird, then please don't tell the bird to blame someone else for not letting it fly.

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some call it "discrimination"

i call it "enslavement"
if u earn way too much, the NS wont call u back, esp if are only a private or corporal.
if u are some kind of horse, your probably earn enough, or is already signed on, or a scholar of somekind, or a scholar who skipped on his scholarship
if u are pase E because u are really sick, you're gonna die soon anyway.

companies and employing policies aside. what are the chances of a lone, non-scholar probably only N or O or even A level enterprising business man going OUT of Singapore to find a living?
very little, cause the chains are still on our neck, every year.

and they say we arnt enterprising enough

Not called up because one earns more and hence, by implication, called up because one doesn't earn as much? Now, this sure smells more discriminatory than employers making a practical decision.

Can't go out of Singapore? I heard that the MRT train takes us to lots of places though. Especially if we jump before one at the right time.

going OUT of Singapore to find a living?

not a coffin.

Re: to find a living?

There's one theological theory that says there is reincarnation: after death comes another life. Of course, if one gets reincarnated in Sg, then one can go and buy Toto.

Re: to find a living?

if u can buy toto for the 10m draw. one can always bet he'll be back in this island state.

Re: to find a living?

That's a bet I will want to lose.

Re: to find a living?

it could be worse. we can be born in china?
or a 3rd Bush dynesty...

Re: to find a living?


Then we can go to tropical Paradise called Singapore --as foreign talents!

Actually, earning loads of money does not preclude you from a call-up. I know someone who earns $16k a month, who got called up to be re-vocationalized. He was not alone, since a junior-partner at a law firm also got called.

Well.. i heard that there was a person who was earning loads of money and got called up. His vocation in the army was clerk or something. Think the army side people who did the call up got into trouble for calling up the expensive clerk. But its just talk, no way i could confirm it.

Whatever it is, in the current climate of lean and mean corporate structures, few would allow for redundancies. Who in the right mind, would employ someone to lead a project, if his presence throughout the project could not be guaranteed? You could get HR to fight MINDEF, but is it worth the while, if you could get a foreign talent?

Yeah, the time spent "fighting" Mindef, sometimes just applying for deferments, is already time wasted and is counter-productive.

That's the wrong attitude, Molly! The time "fighting" MINDEF, allows HR and the MINDEF personnel to justify for their jobs!

Oh sorry, I forgot. But it's depressing for Mindef personnel especially if they are guys who know they will be going through the same ... excetory substance and they have no way of really helping these people.

Sometimes it involves more than HR people. Our famous enterpreneur from Creative once mentioned that he had to personally request for deferment for his staff - and it was rejected as well.

"So the staff wrote a letter to apply for deferment. It was rejected. I told him to write an appeal, mentioning Creative"s involvement and all the relevant and valid reasons for such critically needed deferment. It was still rejected and we were running out of time.

I guess I had to step in. I wrote the letter personally again, citing all the reasons and the ".com" time-critical factors. It was still rejected. I was very upset by this. It was already the last working day before he had to go in-camp. I had to call the officer personally. I identified myself, including my role in the Technopreneur 21 committee and appealed for the fourth time. The answer was still NO. after all the reasons were given, the answer was still NO. Well, they had liberalized then - if you were a new employee of a company, the deferment would be allowed. I argued strenuously that the key person was more than a new employee. He was a new employee of a company for which we had spent millions to acquire. No! An acquisition does not constitute the equivalent of a new employee. A new employee IS a new employee. Period. The rule book never said that the people in a new acquisition are new employees. Therefore they are not "new employees", regardless of the fact that their employee status are the same in principle."𓐱

The people who called him up could have argued that it was necessary to have an expensive clerk to prevent corruption.

i think MPs earn enough to let them escape reservist. not because of their civil duties

Ain't necessarily so, since the MP allowance is not that much alone. However, many of them also get directorships, etc., which might price them out of MINDEF's league... :P

I don't think it's preclusion. Probably depends also on whether the person is indispensable. The best preclusion is migration?

Indeed my friend

My son did just that and has gotten his Australian Citizenship. It is a silent "protest."

Re: Indeed my friend

Can Molly marry your son?

So, is someone who is just an NCO indispensible? The person earning $16k was to be revocationalised into an MT-line NCO...

I have no idea. I don't have a great mind like the people in charge.

Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

Went through his blog and found this, a reply from him to another blogger:

To recruit ong:
I am PES E, so am er exempted from NS liability. However, these are my personal observations from working with/for people with NS liability, being for a year involved in hiring decisions, and having worked for both local and foreign employers:

- a NS call-up is typically 2-3 weeks in a go, which can be incredibly inconvenient but is not typically fatal.

- many (most?) hiring decision-makers who are locals are men, who will understand this. Those who are not locals (or in MNCs) tend to be more enlightened, and will not discriminate on this basis.

- in fact, most MNCs tend to be more enlightened. Local employers (including, sadly, the government) are more likely to discriminate.

- women tend to be discriminated against much more than men. The disruption from maternity leave is seen as being much greater than from NS call-ups, because of the duration of the disruption. The cost implications are also different, since the cost of the first 8 weeks of maternity are borne by the employer, but the government will reimburse for NS liability.

- there may be some bias in favour of foreigners over local men. Having said that, there are advantages in favour of locals in terms of language, culture, etc.

Finally, an employer who will discriminate like that is probably not an employer you would want to work for anyway.

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

Molly, I am sorry for the above.
I could not contain my amazement!!!
I need to cool down now.
By the way, I am a retired PES A reservist.
Now, how many of P65 male MPs has reservist training OR are they exempted from it because they are doing MP national service? Do you notice that NO ONE in parliment talks about their NS liabilities? Or I forgot, we also have retired BGs and such.

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

Why be sorry for stating a fact?

I don't know about the MPs at all. Maybe there are laws about the sort of positions MPs can hold?

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

No one talks about NS in the parliament, yet the topic affects at least half of the citizens out there. If one factors in their families, kids etc I would say NS is a huge issue. Not forgetting that one third of the budget is being spent on MINDEF. This overwhelming imbalance that is ingrained in the system and national psyche needs to be relooked at if S'pore and S'poreans are to move away from a self-deprecating mindset.

It is notable that another blogger Mr Wang is also PES E. Dammit these guys are seriously "advantaged" by their disadvantages! I am happy for them. LOL

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

It's a uniquely Singapore phenomenon that disadvantages are miraculously turned into advantages for people with medical problems. We must be grateful!

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

erm corporal MP SIR, do u mind walking over there and fill a few bags of sand?
oh, never mind. u go coffee break ok?

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

"Get out of my elite uncaring face, officer."

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

Siew is asking for it.

MNCs are more enlightened? Heck, I don't think so. I suspect many of them are governed by equal opportunity laws or anti-discrimination laws back in their home countries, even though (as I said) it isn't really discrimination.

Women discriminated against "much more" than men? I would say it's just a different discrimination. Furthermore, no one is forcing women to have babies every single year until they turn 40 or 50.

But if women are indeed discriminated against, together with local men, maybe we know why when we have foreign men taking all the jobs...

"there may be some bias in favour of foreigners over local men. Having said that, there are advantages in favour of locals in terms of language, culture, etc."-->!!??

"Finally, an employer who will discriminate like that is probably not an employer you would want to work for anyway." --Same question: what if it isn't even discrimination? Hehe.

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

Yes Siew is indeed asking for it but I am sure he is also equally nonchalant ("cool and steady") about it. It is another example of the lack or rather absence of "MORAL AUTHORITY" in the leadership of the ruling party members!

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

They have moral Power though.

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

Tried to post at that Mr Siew's blog but don't allow anon. so this is what i would like to say to him, and everyone can enjoy this little outburst. To Molly, I hope this topic starts some ideas for material for your blog. Thanks.

To Mr Siew,

I mean to offend when I say your views mean nothing. You should reflect the views of all the singapore men with NS liability. That is your NCMP job if you want to raise this topic in parliament. Otherwise you will just be doing a half ass job. I know you intend to raise it in QT or that Mindef something, and this will not become a discussion in parliament.

In the end nothing will change, and you will finish your NCMP stint having impacted nothing.

Sorry I didn't vote for you. Oh that's right, you didn't stand.

Re: Siew Kum Hong is PES E and has no Reservist

Oh he's an NMP, not an NCMP. I guess we have to understand that he's already pretty candid considering potential restrictions he might have with regards to the content he blogs. Yes, Molly is picking up the issue actually.

When it comes to change, there have been changes over the years when it comes to reservist men. But the more of these little changes there are, the more solidified the system is. As long as the system remains, NS men are going to be affected adversely.

Discrimination is a "dirty" word

Employers who act rationally from an economic perspective would hire non-NSmen compared to foreign workers with the same qualifications and work experience. It is pure weighing of cost-benefit to the organisation.

The real entity that has institutionalised this discrimination is the Govt. NS as it is practised yesterday and today MAKES IT LESS ATTRACTIVE FOR EMPLOYERS TO HIRE SINGAPOREAN MALE CITIZENS.

So far, only the civil service and statutory boards are relatively accomodating in hiring NSmen. But even that is changing, more and more PRs who are non-Singaporeans are also being hired in the civil service and statutory boards. So even the last bastions of Singaporean-first hiring environments are succumbing to the effects of a truly global workforce.

NS is slowing killing Singaporeans, economically and spiritually.

ROD lor.

Re: Discrimination is a "dirty" word

A reader above says that MP Siew actually says:

"n fact, most MNCs tend to be more enlightened. Local employers (including, sadly, the government) are more likely to discriminate."

Gahmen institutionalize the discrimination, then gahmen participates in it!

Re: even in death we are enslaved to singapore.

At least we can opt out of this one.

Ah, I think I have another tax in mind after the Poverty Tax. We should have an opt-out tax for causing them administrative incovenience!

Re: even in death we are enslaved to singapore.

oh i dont mind giving my drug-damaged organs to whoever wants them,
but not at the expense of a family screaming over the so call body. the family should be allowed a choice at the point of death about "donating" not body snatching

Re: even in death we are enslaved to singapore.

If I die, I will want my body/ashes transported out of Singapore. So can I just opt to donate to someone in another country ot not donate at all?

Re: even in death we are enslaved to singapore.

Come to think of it, I think prisoners sentenced to death are hanged in singapore. That means their organs are not damaged like in electrical execution or by lethal injection. Anyone knows if the organs are harvested?

Kind of like in china where the execution is a shot through the head and organs are harvested.

Anyone? Anyone?

Re: even in death we are enslaved to singapore.

Are you sure the organs aren't damaged? I don't know...

Re: even in death we are enslaved to singapore.

The answer from a doc... check out Dr Huang's response (nofearSingapore) at 9:45 AM

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