- The Straits Times
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed on Monday (Sept 10) that an average of 350 people defaulted on national service (NS) each year over the past 10 years. He made the statement while responding to a parliamentary question by Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC).
Dr Ng added the NS defaulters either failed to register or enlist, or did not return to Singapore after their exit permit had expired. One-third have been arrested or have come forward to resolve their Enlistment Act offences.
The Ministry of Defence has been taking the necessary steps to contact NS defaulters, Dr Ng said. These include sending registered mails to their last known place of residence, including their overseas address, making house visits to their local addresses and even trying to trace them through educational institutions they have attended.
A spotlight has been cast on the issue of NS defaulters after news broke that Kevin Kwan, the Singapore-born author of bestseller “Crazy Rich Asian”, did not fulfil his NS obligations. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are no records of him entering Singapore since 2000.
About a week after Kwan’s case broke, 24-year-old Thai national, Ekawit Tangtrakarn, who was formerly a Singaporean citizen, was convicted in court after pleading guilty to defaulting on NS. He remained outside Singapore without a valid exit permit for five and a half years.
Under the Enlistment Act, Singaporean males who fail to fulfil their NS obligations can face a fine of up to S$10,000, and/or up to three years in prison.