Mindef to relax exit permit requirements, build new social and recreation hub

These come after recommendations from the National Service Review Committee to reflect the changing needs of NSmen

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) National Servicemen soldiers.
Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) National Servicemen soldiers. (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Exit permit requirements for operational ready national servicemen (NSmen) will be relaxed from April this year, with only those going on trips out of Singapore for 12 months or more needing to apply for the permit.

This is a revision from the current rule, which is applicable to NSmen going on overseas trips for six months or more.

The change was announced by Senior Minister of State for Defence, Heng Chee How, during his ministry's Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Monday (27 February).

"This change reflects the growing mobility of Singaporeans, with many of our NSmen staying overseas for longer durations, be it for work or study," he said. "Let me assure Members that we have studied this closely, and the SAF’s (Singapore Armed Forces') operational readiness will not be affected."

New social and recreation hub for NSmen

The updated exit permit rule comes following the completion of a review by the National Service Review Committee in September last year. The committee submitted recommendations to ensure that NS remained effective amid Singapore’s evolving defence needs, as well as the changing needs of the national servicemen.

Heng announced that NSmen can look forward to a new social and recreation hub in Changi by the National Service Resort and Country Club, which will come with chalets, sports facilities and other family-centric amenities.

More details will be announced in due course, and Heng said he hopes the hub will cater to the leisure needs of a younger generation of NSmen.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has also automated its make-up pay (MUP) claims system since September, with the system drawing income-related information directly from CPF Board and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore to compute MUP amounts for NSmen’s in-camp training (ICT).

This simplified process allows employers, NSmen, Mindef and Ministry of Home Affairs to save more than 260,000 man-hours annually in manual processing. Since its implementation, 90 per cent of claims have been paid out within 10 working days from the start of NSmen’s ICT.

Sentinel Programme to be offered to more education institutions

Since last year, the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS) - SAF's fourth and newest branch - has been running the Sentinel Programme in selected schools, to equip youths with cybersecurity and digital skills that can contribute to Singapore’s digital defence.

Over 300 students from four secondary schools, 13 junior colleges and five polytechnics participated in the programme last year. DIS will work with agencies such as the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore to offer the programme to youths from all secondary schools, junior colleges, polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs) in the coming years.

"The programme was carefully crafted to expose students to foundational skills such as basic programming, cryptography, and network forensics," said Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Defence, in Parliament on Monday.

"We received strong student interest in the pilot programme."

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