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Friday, April 17, 2009

3 released in 9 years

SAF SCHOLARS

Loh Chee Kong
cheekong@mediacorp.com.sg

WITH ample opportunities available to clarify any doubts, individuals — and their parents, relatives or friends who act as their sureties — are made well aware of their obligations before they take up scholarships or sponsorships with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

So reiterated Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament yesterday, as he responded to Tampines MP Irene Ng's questions over whether contract terms are clearly explained to prospective scholars "in language that he understands, and confirmed with his parents if he is below 21".

Revealing that three officers were released prematurely from their bonds over the last nine years, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that SAF scholars — by virtue of being "better officers" — are given the "pick of the better positions available" among the many "interesting and challenging" SAF jobs.

"The SAF is not an unreasonable organisation. The terms and conditions are quite fair and reasonable, and that is why we do have people who are prepared to come forward to serve," he said.

Emphasising that any individual is not compelled to sign the bond "until he has fully understood" its terms, Mr Teo added: "This is particularly the case when it is an in-service officer who may well already be in his 20s or 30s, and decides to take up a scholarship or a sponsorship to go on for a course for further career development."

Ms Ng's questions arose from the death of bonded officer Captain (Dr) Allan Ooi, 27, who was said to be unhappy at work.

Pointing out that the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has been in contact with Dr Ooi's family since he went Awol in October last year, Mr Teo added that Mindef would "make available a summary of the findings" of its Board of Inquiry, which was convened last month, to the family upon their request.

From TODAY, News - Tuesday, 14-April-2009