SINCE news of Jane Lim’s selection for National Service, I have prayed that the NS Training Department would grant her an exemption. It was disappointing to read in the report “No exemption for Jane” (The Star, Dec 4) that the department had offered only a deferment.
Jane’s situation is a perfect opportunity for the department to show that it has a heart and conscience, but they have not succeeded.
The right thing to do would be to exempt her from training. I was a trainee myself four years ago and during my stint, my parents did not find it easy letting me go. Worries for trainee safety will increase with every death reported.
While I am aware of the numerous positive reviews the NS has received, the department should realise that not everyone feels that way. To discount their concerns by saying that the majority are happy and safe would be to forget the fact that the worry and threat faced by the Lim family is not abstract, but is very real indeed.
There is clearly no good that can be accomplished by offering a deferment. Jane herself is well aware of this in the article mentioned. While the department clearly recognises that her case warrants special consideration, a deferment is only a consolation, and a half-hearted attempt at benevolence.
We want to trust the authorities to do what is right, and not to hide behind the NS Training Act. People understand that rules are needed to prevent just anyone from being exempted, but all rules and laws are grounded in higher principles of right and wrong.
By forgetting this, the department does not instill much confidence in potential trainees and their parents, not to mention the harm it will do to the Lim family.
I implore the department not to justify their actions with a law, but to see the principles of justice it is supposed to be rooted in and most of all, that this is not just one trainee to add to the number of trainees, but the only remaining daughter of a family.