NSmen no longer need to notify Govt of overseas travel under 6 months

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How announced the move during the debate on Mindef’s budget in Parliament.


Combat Army by Cyberpioneer

From Friday (March 1), all operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) will no longer have to notify the authorities when they travel abroad for less than half a year.

Previously, NSmen from the Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team who are overseas for more than 14 days and less than six months had to inform the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) notification centres and provide their contact details before departing Singapore.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How announced the move on Friday during the debate on Mindef’s budget in Parliament.

He said national servicemen have to balance personal and National Service (NS) commitments, and the authorities must strive to increase convenience by reducing administrative burdens where possible.

“This will help them focus on the training,” Mr Heng said.

“We will also maximise the potential and tap into the abilities of our increasingly better-educated pool of servicemen, so that they can contribute even more meaningfully.”

Mr Heng stressed that the change would not compromise operational readiness, as other exit-control measures remain. These measures could be tightened if the need arises, he said.

In a statement, Mindef said NSmen must still apply for an exit permit before they travel overseas for six months or more.

Soldiers on operational and mobilisation manning must continue to seek permission from their units before they go overseas.

The ministry added that NSmen must also keep their telephone numbers — including their temporary contact information while overseas — updated on the NS Portal, so that their units may contact them.

The Government last tweaked the rule on travel notification in 2014, when it was relaxed to allow servicemen overseas for more than 14 days and less than six months to notify Mindef and the MHA — up from more than 24 hours previously.

On Friday, Mr Heng also unveiled other plans to improve soldiers’ NS experience. Here’s a snapshot:

SKILLSFUTURE@NS

From the middle of this year, full-time national servicemen (NSFs) will have access to about 3,000 courses — up from 200 or so now — for which they may use the credits they are already granted, also known as “e-credits”.

These programmes will include SkillsFuture Series courses on emerging areas, such as data analytics and cyber security, and are meant to ease their transition to schools and workplaces.

Today, NSFs are granted e-credits worth S$350 — valid up to a year after they complete full-time NS — to subscribe to about 200 online courses offered by local universities and polytechnics.

Mindef is also working with institutes of higher learning to offer customised courses that would afford NSFs credit exemptions for relevant diploma or degree programmes after full-time NS.

There will also be efforts to prepare NSFs to transit to workplaces through career-orientation workshops near the end of their full-time service.

NS MEMORIES DIGITAL REPOSITORY

Mindef will begin testing a digital repository with an unspecified active infantry unit in the middle of this year for three months.

The NS Memories platform will give soldiers access to official, non-sensitive and individually tagged photographs of themselves and their buddies, chronicling their experiences through NS during full-time service and thereafter. It may include photos during training, cohesion activities and other memorable events.

Mr Heng said servicemen have told the ministry that sharing photos of their experiences in camp would help them build a stronger sense of community, and it has been exploring ways to facilitate this online.

Servicemen will be able to view, download and share these images on their personal social media pages.

The ministry is exploring suitable online platforms to host this repository, and Mr Heng said the initiative will be expanded if it is found to be successful.

Source: TODAY Online


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