You probably have heard about some stories about how ruthless Singaporean government can be when it comes to law enforcement. There was a 'caning' punishment to an American citizen for vandalism which made to the headline news in the 1996 . It's probably just another ordinary event for Singaporeans, but for me this is completely new and unheard of. They are not afraid of the US government sending a bunch of CIA agent and poison your entire government?
Recently I got another glimpse into how they enforce their National Service . Every teenager age 18 or older will have to serve the military in some form for 2 years. Obviously if you are in Singapore, you can't avoid it. Otherwise it's a hefty fine plus some years in prison. But what if you become a foreigner?
Mr. Tan was just like that. He finished half of his National Service, applied for studies in the US, and then never made it back to Singapore until 20 years later, already holding a US passport. He was planning to work for a pharmaceutical consulting firm, which requires him to travel in and out of Singapore to customers in the Asia Pacific region. Guess what, Singapore government leaves you no chance for escaping your duty. They closed the border on him, so he can't get out of the country until he finishes the 1 year service.
This will have a detrimental effect on his new career. Being restricted in Singapore, he will lose his job. The government did left him with one option: serve the military for 1 year, while he can work on his spare time, and if he needs to get in and out of the country, he needs to send in some deposits to the government. I don't know how they made up the number, but the deposit is big, much bigger than bailing money in US, which is around $50k in the Bay Area for felony charges. Singapore government, being wholeheartedly supporting his career, only requested 150k dollars. 150k US dollars for a year. Even a 1% interest rate will yield 1500 dollars annually. Great, little pig tail is being held in Singapore government's hand.
After one year, working 2 jobs 20 hours a day none-stop, and a hefty 150k dollar debt, Mr. Tan finally finished his national service. Singapore government gave back both his money and freedom. How fair is that? No body is above the law, not even foreigners.
In comparison, if you were speeding on highway in US and was caught by a highway patrol, you can show them your foreign driver license and a sneer. Most likely they will let you go, since sending international traffic ticket was not part of their job description. Too easy.