Serving NS does not entitle you to a job too

This is a follow-up from my earlier post (A pink IC does not give you the right to a job).

One of the common retorts to my earlier post was that Singaporeans deserve job priority because they have to dedicate 2 years of their life serving NS. You can see these retorts in the comments section of my earlier post and in selected Facebook pages like this one.

Uh… hello? Even if you serve NS, you still need to demonstrate that you deserve a job.


“Singaporean First” doesn’t mean “NS-men First” 

Firstly, if you believe that serving NS entitles you to a job, are you also suggesting that Singaporean men deserve higher job priority than Singaporean women, since almost all women don’t spend 2 years serving NS?

How about Singaporean men who are PES F because of physical or mental disabilities? They don’t serve NS. Do you want to discriminate against them too?


Serving NS teaches us that not all men are good people

Regardless of whether you enjoyed your NS experience or not, there is one thing that those 2 years of service would have definitely taught you. And that is the fact that there are “good” men and “bad” men in this country.

Most of us would associate the good memories of our NSF and reservist life with the brothers and friends that we shared our lives with. They may be people you are willing to die for, brothers who lent a helping hand to each other, or friends whom you can count on to jointly bitch about NS life.

But we will also remember the “bad” guys who make life unnecessarily difficult. It may be the lazy guy who constantly “chao-keng”,  the backstabber, the arrogant bastard, the guy who is always late, the under-performer, or the person who just can’t work in a team. Every NS-serving male would have met one of these people in their NS lives.

If you have served NS and you can accept that these “bad” people exist in NS, then you can accept that they exist in the workplace too. They may be your colleague, boss or subordinate. They may be the person applying for a job at your company’s interview. They definitely exist in Singapore.


Companies must have the right to reject sub-par candidates

If you support a blanket Singaporean-first policy, then you must recognise that these sub-par workers will find their way into your workplace (if they haven’t already done so). You and your company will suffer for it.

This statement doesn’t mean that conversely, all foreigners are good workers. There are good quality foreigners, and there are also shitty ones.

I’m not inherently opposed to a “Singaporean First” policy. The concept is noble, but it should not place undue burden on the hiring practices of companies. It should not be easily abused by hirers and applicants. And it must adhere to the principle of meritocracy by allowing companies to retain the right to reject sub-par candidates.


About sgthinker

I'm a 40-year old Singaporean male, and this blog pens down my thoughts and feelings about Singapore's political happenings, government policies and society trends. I hope this blog will provide a moderate voice in the growing online debate about the state of Singapore's society. Some of the posts here won't be solely written by me, since there will be times when other writers are more eloquent at expressing their views, in which case I'll share their insights (along with my comments). The content on this blog is owned by me.If you wish to share or reproduce the content, please attribute it to this blog.
This entry was posted in Government Policy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Serving NS does not entitle you to a job too

  1. “Serving NS teaches us that not all men are good people”
    The most hilarious shit ever , its like stating that NS ppl are morons and especially the one that wrote this . rofl. It should be like ; if you are a mentally competent human , life will teaches you not all HUMANS are good people.

  2. Pingback: Serving NS does not entitle you to a job too | Weekender Singapore

  3. Pingback: Beware those who deny change to themselves |

  4. Robert says:

    Hi, I am a second generation PR – I am going to have to do NS. I just wanted to know, does it look good on your CV? Not only in Singapore but internationally do corporations and people hiring look more favourably upon those who have done national service? Thank you in advance

    • sgthinker says:

      In order for NS to help your resume, you have to do something noteworthy during your NS days. For example, being in some sort of leadership position. You can then use that to market yourself. If your NS days were spent lounging around as a storeman, it’s not much help.

  5. Remy says:

    By making this statement “Serving NS does not entitle you to a job too”, am assuming that you are referring to a local Singapore job. You are giving me an impression that a Singaporean who has a stake in Singapore, is genuinely working hard to provide for his family will have a high chance of losing his job if he is found too expensive or less efficient or less capable as compared to a cheap foreigner who is merely here to find his pot of gold. You are hence also giving me an impression that foreigners will have equal chance of getting a job in Singapore to serve his basic needs in his home country at an expense of a Singaporean who might be trying hard to feed his family while serving his country, i.e. national service.

    I do not quite understand the purpose of this entry of yours however I wish to point out that the peace and prosperity of this country should be enjoyed by the citizen and her children who generally has stake in this country.

    I would also say the “stronger” Singaporean should look after a “weaker” Singaporean. The weaker ones will have the time to catch up.

    If you are businessmen, I would agree with your statement base on the business perspective (on an assumption that companies have no social responsibility). I will have the government to deal with such business practise.

    If you are a politician that craft policies, I will contribute an effort with the one piece of voting right prevent you from getting a sit in a parliament.

    • sgthinker says:

      This post is merely a reply to earlier comments on my previous post. As for whether you think I’m a politician, you can see from my previous posts that I have criticised the PAP and opposition alike.

      • Remy says:

        If you are neither a politician/politician to be nor a businessman, you must have been someone that works for a firm and is more successful in this Singapore system. I do hope you believe in nurturing local to pave way for Singapore’s future because there are foreign professional hiring manager workings in Singapore that favour their own people in any recruitment exercise.

      • sgthinker says:

        I believe in nurturing, but that’s different from hand-holding and guaranteeing job security. A little tough love is needed too.

      • Remy says:

        Thank you. Our future generation relies on you.

    • Daniel Lee says:

      If a foreigner manager favours foreigners over locals and is not looking at the right skills and attitude for the position, then that is not a company that a local should be working in.

      In this modern workplace, it is character and determination, more than just skills and qualification, that enables a person to succeed. Always keep working on building that resume, do not allow ‘resume deflation’ (a symptom where a worker becomes less valuable after doing the same job tasks year after year) to take place.

      I work in Melbourne, Australia as a foreigner, and the Australian culture here is very pro-local. I have to prove my worth and grab every opportunity / project I get my hands on to build my resume.

      When I apply for jobs with other employers, I routinely only get interviews with one or two potential employers at most over a 4-5 months search period. In fact, in my current job, it was the only employer who wanted to interview me.

      There will always be employers with certain preferences on their ideal employee. Don’t get personal about it. Keep moving, keep looking, and keep working on building that resume.

      • IniD says:


      • Remy says:

        Well, I agree with your idea to become successful in a foreign country. Again, I say. Singapore should nurture its citizen by giving priority to whoever that wants to be successful. Your plan used by a Singaporean in Singapore will have a higher chance of being successful. Singapore is not a foreign country of Singaporean so should not expect rough treatment as you have experience in Australia. Priority should be given to Singaporean that wants to be successful in Singapore.

        To see recruitment bias to Singaporean in Singapore will not make a single sense to any citizen of any country. Should foreigners’ population (Include PR) become too large, they will gain the power to discriminate the local. Do you think Singaporean government will then have the power to prevent these foreigners from doing so? The economy needs them you see.

        I won’t be surprise that by then many Singaporean will not want to become Singaporeans. A PR that gets almost everything a Singaporean gets the same except National Service will be a better choice now(it is already a better choice) . If you are a Singaporean father, would you want your son to serve national service when loads and loads of foreigner are taking the full advantage of the PR system and put your future son’s career prospect and everything into question? I think an idiot is clever enough to answer this question.

        Even if this son of yours manage to be sucessful, given this environment, what is the chance this Singaporean boy will root his family in Singapore?

        As for the purpose of the writer’s post. I hope he would do his part to assist those SIngaporeans who genuinely want to be successful. An effort to prevent Singapore to become a full Inc or a world hotel is much appreaciated.

      • IniD says:

        Success doesn’t come to those who want it – it comes to those who have what it takes.

        Giving priority to people who want success doesn’t make a company successful – hiring employees that can deliver does.

        If you think that a company should hire you just because you “want” to be successful and have served NS, then you are probably going to be disappointed.

      • Remy says:

        Then if I suggest treat everybody on equal footing. Abolish national service. There is no nation so to speak. Period.

      • singaporephile says:

        I wouldn’t hire this Remy dude..

  6. Pragmatist says:

    I believe that there are two sides to a coin. Your points are definitely valid and in truth you must hire the individual who can best serve your organization in the capacity required for the intended position. At the same time though, many jobs are coming into Singapore where many Singaporeans simply do not have the expertise. Take for instance, the fund management industry. Apart from a course running at Nanyang Polytechnic, there are none I believe here in Singapore that looks at administrating and managing streams of foreign dollars parked in our banks here. So, the foreigners hire their own folks. So despite having created jobs, they are simply not suited for the locals. I have also heard of a case where an Australian HR Director actually choose to advertise for management trainner positions in the Australian newspapers and not in any of our jobsites. Mind you, the management trainees (typically fresh grads) were to be based in Singapore. Do think about it. Could the authorities have done something to protect the rice-bowl of Singaporeans?

    • sgthinker says:

      Unfortunately no education system in the world can accurately predict the trend of future jobs and tailor a special curriculum to meet the future needs of the economy. That’s what training courses and self-initiated learning are for.

    • Daniel Lee says:

      Formal institutional learning is only a basic requirement in today’s workplace. Employers nowadays want people with experience when starting out their first job; that means Uni students need to be out there doing internships to get the require experience. What incentive does an employer have when there are multiple fresh grad with the same bachelor degree?

      Working in Melbourne, Australia, I experienced a huge culture shock when trying to apply for part-time work while doing my post-grad years back. I was told in the face by a local Australian HR consultant that local employers want entry level employees already packed with experience.

      I said “how am I to get the experience if no one wants to hire me in the first place?”. The response was “go out and intern your time.”

  7. Jim Soh says:

    Yes, NS does not entitle me to a job. NS however is not only an act of sacrificing 2 years of our lives it also obliges me to do in camp training every year. NS puts us at a distinct disadvantage when we have to compete against others who have no NS or in camp commitments. While we are running around in helmets and marching around for 2 YEARS, foreigners are improving their skills, upgrading themselves and getting on with life. We are at a distinct disadvantage in the labor market.

    So we dont need entitlements neither do we need to do 2 years of military service which puts at a distinct disadvantage in the job market. The solution is not to give us entitlements but to do away with NS or to reduce it and cancel all in-camp obligations.

    • sgthinker says:

      I agree that NS puts men at a disadvantage, and something should be done to address this. Will probably write on this in some future post.
      But I doubt that job entitlements, job priorities or scrapping NS is going to be the solution.

    • Daniel Lee says:

      Reduction of NS obligation to 1 year is a first step, with that one year realyl focusing on BMT and probably some specialised training. Officer training should only be for regulars.

      Unfortunately, this will not come about with the current government. Tremedous political pressure needs to be placed on them before the conversation will even be acknowledged.

      • wmulew says:

        1 year NS is too short for all programs to finish. What other countries have done, e.g. Taiwan is to compromise on the quality of their soldiers. Instead of working on the length of NS which doesn’t really affect your future worklife, more should be done to shorten the reservist cycle, IPPT, RT cycle which have a direct impact to working adults

  8. Kelvin Tan says:

    Oh no! Benjamin Franklin was correct after all!

  9. IniD says:

    It’s sad if the only thing you can use to justify to a potential employer that you are good enough for the job is the fact that you were conscripted not of your own choice for two years while you were a teenager.

  10. Agree says:

    I agree with Daniel Lee and I doubt few Singapore citizens would disagree..

  11. Daniel Lee says:

    Agree with your last paragraph. That is the core of a ‘Singaporean first’ policy.

  12. Pingback: Daily SG: 25 June 2012 | The Singapore Daily

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s