Sons of PRs must do NS to keep status: Defence Minister

SINGAPORE - Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen reiterated that sons of permanent residents (PRs) have to complete national service (NS) in order to keep PR status.

Speaking to the Straits Times, Minister Ng said that first-generation PRs are exempted from NS, but have to be aware that their sons have to complete the duty if they apply for PR status for their children.

"The basic message to permanent residents is this: If you want to take up permanent residency for your children, please do so recognizing that they have to do NS as a duty and there will be a course if you don't.

"So, it's better not to take up PR if your children are not going to do NS," he said.

Addressing concerns about NS-liable PRs renouncing their residency before serving NS, Dr Ng added that second-generation PRs face harsh penalties if they choose not to fulfill their two years and give up their PR status.

Minister Ng's comments come as an ongoing debate takes place about the need for more punitive measures to make second-generation PRs serve the military stint, including imposing a security bond on their parents, to be forfeited if the sons do not go through NS.

Dr Ng said that current measures in place are already harsher than that.

According to RazorTV, 8,800 male foreigners who became PRs under the sponsorship of their parents over the last five years enlisted in NS.

However, another 4,200 renounced their PR status prior to serving NS.

According to Colonel Kenneth Liow, second-generation PRs' failure to serve NS will be taken into account when they apply to study or work in Singapore in the future, said in a letter to The Straits Times forum.

Minister Ng also said that he received letter letters from families who say they have been separated because NS-liable PRs chose not to complete their duty.

Dr Ng, however, pointed out that Singapore has to enforce the NS policy to send a clear signal that NS duty must be fulfilled, despite the difficulties.

dassa@sph.com.sg

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