My letter to The New Paper is published today, Monday 6 September 2010, page 16.
I refer to the report, “A reward for each NS milestone completed”(The New Paper, September 1).
The new National Service Recognition Award (NSRA) announced by the Prime Minister in his National Day Rally speech is a good scheme.
It will clearly make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens. Most certainly, it will benefit the younger generation.
But I am deeply disappointed that our senior citizens who have also contributed to the defence and stability of Singapore for many years have not been given even a fraction of this incentive.
Why is that?
Male senior citizens have also made sacrifices in performing national service. Their families have spent days and nights alone when their loved ones carried out their military training in Singapore as well as overseas.
I do not buy the argument by Minister of State for Defence Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, that those “who have finished the cycle have benefited from other awards over the years”.
He also said: “The policy is not retroactive... We have to move on and the next generation will benefit.”
I find his statement insensitive to the feelings of older men.
There is far too much emphasis and support for the younger generation, and even though our older males have shown loyalty and commitment to the nation, their contributions do not seem as valued.
If the PAP founding fathers are recognised, why are our older males not given the same recognition as the younger NS men?
I appeal to the Government to rethink its policies so that they will benefit our elderly folks.
Given that many are likely to fall ill in their twilight years, I suggest that, perhaps half of the NSRA incentive (which can amount up to $10,500 for commanders) be given to our older men who have completed national service.
The money can, at least, defray part of their health-care costs.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO