Singapore, which has one of Asia's best-equipped militaries and ranks high internationally in per capita defense spending, raised its national defence budget by 4.3 percent on Friday. The Ministry of Defence's total expenditure for 2012 has been earmarked $12.279 billion, an increase of $504 million over last year.
In time of war, Singapore’s reservists will be activated to be cannon fodder at the frontlines. Unlike the estimated 20,000 locals every year, the foreigners and permanent residents (PRs) who make up some 36% of the populace need not undergo National Service training or be tied down to in-camp reservist commitment for 10 long years. Even Goh Chok Tong sensed there was a serious problem when a Nanyang Technology University (NTU) student once told him at a student forum: “Why must I defend foreigners? I feel that there is a dilution of the Singapore spirit in youth. We don’t really feel comfortable in our country any more.”
Therein lies the moral dilemma. Enemies are supposed to come in from outside our territorial limits. However, thanks to some ill conceived immigration policy, the foreigners are already within the city limits. As it was in Troy, the Trojan Horse had been welcomed with great fanfare. The 200 foreign construction workers who initiated a lightning strike at the premises of Sunway Concrete Products and Techcom Construction & Trading Pte Ltd demonstrated how easy it was to disrupt Singapore’s usually orderly and well-functioning daily routine. The police may have cordoned off the site of Singapore's first industrial action for many years, and barred reporters from the scene, but the world press has already reported on the fiasco. None of the foreign protestors were arrested for staging an illegal assembly.
It may be argued that the real bad guys here are the people at Manpower who allowed these migrant workers to be exploited at $2 per hour. But our cabbies are punched up by drunk Ang Mohs who fly off scot free, thanks to the HomeTeam members who turn a blind eye to the flight risks. And our women's anatomical bits are groped by similar types at $10,000 a squeeze. The fine is peanuts when country clubs like SICC are prepared to pay $30,000 a month for a non-Singaporean general manager with faked academic credentials. Even the football clubs have their share of FT cons with less than fortright business disclosures. The barbarians are definitely within the gates.
Here's the additional rub. While the dollars allocated for defence have been ramped, National Development spending, which includes monies meant for public housing and infrastructure, has been cut from $3.07 billion(FY2011 Revised) to $2,514 9 (FY2012 Budgeted). This year's budget has been billed as one to produce a more inclusive and stronger society. The question on everyone 's mind will be, who is included, and what society.
|The biggest slice of FY 2012 Budget|