23 February 2014
A day after the Budget fleshed out details of the generous health-care benefits in the Pioneer Generation Package, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said he was happy the age range was extended to 65, as this recognises the first batch of national servicemen.
He said on Facebook: “Careful budgeting means we can set aside a fund now to fully pay for this level of pioneer benefits without burdening younger generations.”
There are 190,000 Singaporeans in the 65 to 69 age bracket, he said.
They include the first batch of 900 full-time national servicemen who enlisted in July 1967.
Defence analyst Ho Shu Huang said that that first batch formed the core of the Singapore Armed Forces’ manpower in the early years.
“After independence, there were only a few hundred regulars, not enough for any form of a credible defence force,” he said. “So these men certainly enlarged the existing force.”
They also introduced the rest of Singapore to the idea of full-time national service.
Mr Ho, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said: “Now, we have relatives and friends to talk to about NS. Back then, they had no one to talk to, and no one knew what to expect. To a large extent, they epitomised the pioneering spirit.”
IDSS / RSIS / Print
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