Singapore's mandatory army training to stay

2017-02-08 05:31


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Singapore - Singapore will keep its mandatory military service because it cannot depend on help from others in an uncertain world, the city-state's defence minister said on Tuesday.

Ng Eng Hen said conscription was crucial, especially for smaller countries like Singapore and those who had abolished it ended up regretting their decision.

One such country is Lithuania, which scrapped mandatory military service after the end of the Cold War, the minister said.

"But instead of stability came the annexation of Crimea and troubles in the Ukraine barely two decades later," Ng said in a speech to army recruits on the 50th anniversary of National Service (NS).

"Today, Lithuania wants to reinstate NS in the face of bold aggression but finds it almost impossible to raise a strong military when they need it most."

Ng also cited Kuwait, which had to depend on US-led coalition forces to push out Iraqi troops which invaded in 1990.

"Singapore cannot depend on others to rescue it if we are caught in a similar predicament," he said.

The affluent city-state, surrounded by much bigger neighbours, introduced the draft in 1967, two years after its bitter split with Malaysia.

Able-bodied men are eligible for conscription for two years once they turn 18.

The Singapore military is among the best equipped in Asia, with an arsenal that includes submarines, F-15 and F-16 jet fighters and Apache attack helicopters.

Ng's remarks came amid tensions on the Korean peninsula and competing territorial claims in the South China Sea that have drawn the attention of the United States.

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