Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my opinion of how MINDEF has handled my request for deferment from In-Camp Training (22 October – 2 November).

I joined a bank in March this year as a Relationship Manager. In this capacity, my performance is almost entirely judged based on my sales numbers. After joining, I was in mandatory training for 2 months, and a couple of weeks after while MAS processed my clearance. It was June before I started running for sales numbers.

While this industry is a cut-throat one, the team I was in was run with an even tighter noose – by August my line manager had already indicated it was vital that I delivered the sales numbers or I could come under the chop. Sales targets are measured monthly, quarterly and annually. My line manager felt that my ICT would be an obstacle, and requested that I apply for deferment. As such, I applied for deferment on 29 August, under the category of New Employment, taking in the account the criteria as set out by MINDEF:

NSman may be deferred from ICT if he satisfies all the following guidelines:

a. He has started on a new job less than 3 months before his national service call-up

b. His employer requests for the deferment

c. His national service call-up is more than 7 days’ duration.

Seemingly, I met all 3 criteria as

a. I started the job less than a month before my call-up

b. My line manager reqested for the deferment, and attached an official letter with my application

c. The call-up was _7 days

However, my application was declined in September. By this time, my line manager had tightened the noose again, and warned that if I could not deliver the performance in line with expectations by October, my position with the bank could be in jeopardy. I then submitted another application, together with another letter from my line manager that explained the situation quite explicitly. However, this application was declined again. I appealed against this, and again this was declined on 1 October. At this point, I was advised by my line manager that I should tender my resignation especially since I could not obtain a deferment from ICT, as this would severely hamper my ability to delivery sales for the month of October and November and therefore greatly affect the overall numbers for Quarter 4 as well as 2012.

And so, I tendered my resignation with the bank, with my last day of employment on 26 October. As the sole breadwinner in my family, you may imagine that this is extremely detrimental to my family and thus very crucial that I am able to obtain new employment ASAP. I then submitted another deferment application on 2 October so that I may be able to actively and urgently look for a new job, rather than be stuck in camp for 2 weeks, not being able to look for jobs, send out applications, response to calls from potential employers, check for emails from potential employers, or attend interviews if need be. This was again declined on 17 October. I immediately submitted an appeal, as well as wrote to my MP for assistance.

On 18 October, the MP for my constituency wrote that he had written to MINDEF with regards to my case. Today (19 October) I checked the NS.sg website and found that the status was still Pending Decision. The ICT starts on Monday, so there is no way MINDEF will revert before the deferment department do not work on weekends. I called the MINDEF hotline to enquire, and was informed that they have indeed received a note from an MP but the case was only opened at 4:00pm today. As such, I have heard nothing from MINDEF.

I have attached a log of my deferment applications lifted from NS.sg for your reference.

While I recognise the need for military defence and readiness, we are not full-time army personnel and we do possess a civilian life, with civilian ideals, and civilian families to feed. I have followed MINDEF guidelines for deferment applications, via correct and proper channels but have come up empty while my career and my family’s financial stability has been negatively impacted by the SAF’s insistence that I should not be granted a deferment from ICT. Perhaps if I was a key appointment holder within my reservist unit, there may be some justification in the seemingly imperativeness that I should be present at the ICT. However, I am far from that. I am not a specialist/officer, I have been permanently downgraded to PES C9L3 due to a slipped spinal disc condition and for the past few ICT’s, my function has been to assist the Quartermaster in collecting food rations from the cookhouse.


Your sincerely,

Lim Ek Kwang


Editor's Note:

A regular TRS reader wants to give Lim Ek Kwang the following advice.

I'd like to offer some suggestions to Mr. Lim Ek Kwang following his experience.
  1. Find an employer who is more employee-centric rather than completely results-centric.
  2. Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country...with a proviso:
    • ask whether your Government works well for you before you work well for your Government.
  3. Think by yourself and for yourself. REALLY think. Do not just do because everyone else is. We require more thinkers. Let sheeple be sheeple.
  4. If your current situation does not suit you, change it for the better. The choice is always yours. ALWAYS.
  5. The only one who can make you feel empowered or powerless is YOU. See points #3 & #4.
Warmest regards,
The Spiritual Thinker