How strong is the Singapore Army

Foreigners also have to serve in Singapore's army

One of the little-known facts about compulsory service in Singapore is that foreigners can also be drafted. As a Swiss, you can even come into conflict with Swiss military criminal law.

One of the little-known facts about compulsory service in Singapore is that foreigners can also be drafted. This applies in particular to young men born abroad who have reached the age of 18 and - as a rule, just like their foreign parents - are registered in this country as so-called permanent residents. This status offers a permanent right of residence and makes it easier to buy a home, but in no way means that one receives citizenship or a passport.

Because the Southeast Asian republic has developed into an international hub with around one and a half million foreigners, it is by no means uncommon for young expats to be required to work. The Department of Defense recently announced that over a five-year period (ending in 2011) 8,800 foreign settlers had performed their national service. More recent figures are not available, but based on them it can be estimated that at least 1,000 young foreigners complete their military service here every year.

There is no discretion in Singapore when it comes to compulsory military service. From the age of 13, an official permit must be obtained from the parents for a stay abroad of three months or more. If the boy is planning to stay abroad for two years or longer, for example for study purposes, the state demands a deposit that amounts to half of the household income, but in any case at least 75,000 Singapore dollars (54,000 francs). But two years of service also has a small advantage: Those who apply for citizenship after the National Service have better chances.

So far, so good - with one exception: the compulsory service for foreigners, insofar as it affects Swiss men, is in clear contradiction to the Military Penal Act. This provides for up to three years imprisonment for service in a foreign army. It is a diplomatic point of contention between Singapore and Switzerland, which, despite the good relationship, remains unsolved to this day.

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