Babies in a nursery at Mount Alvernia hospital on Jan 19, 2010
It may be another 18 years before their sons become soldiers, but parents of newborn boys are getting an early reminder from the Government about the importance of national service.
Along with the baby's birth certificate when they register the birth, parents now receive a letter from the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).
The letter touches on NS policies, such as applying for exit permits and deferment for full-time studies. It also states that the Government may withhold an individual's renunciation of citizenship if his NS liabilities are not fulfilled.
The Sunday Times understands that Mindef started giving out the letters early this year.
Mindef said that the new initiative was "implemented in response to feedback from some parents that enlistment information would be useful to them when their children were very young".
It is an "additional touch point" to parents, on top of the letters which the ministry sends out when their sons turn 13 and 16 ½.
The first, at age 13, is to inform the family that an exit permit is required if their son travels overseas for three months or more, and the second, to register for NS.
"As part of Mindef's ongoing engagement efforts to enhance awareness and understanding of NS commitments, we reach out to parents and pre-enlistees at various touch points to provide information on NS policies," a spokesman said.
Not all parents think that the letter at birth is necessary. Operations manager J.Y. Lim, 30, whose son was born last month, said: "It's kind of too early to inform us about NS, since the baby is just born, but I believe Mindef has its reasons."
Teacher Lim Lee Choon, 32, who also had a baby boy last month, felt the letter was informative. While she knew that every male Singaporean would need to serve NS, she "never knew that implications come on from as early as when they are 13", until she read the letter.