Face Off: Should military service be compulsory in Hong Kong?

Face Off: Should military service be compulsory in Hong Kong?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week’s topic is ...

Patricia Abundo, 19, University of Nottingham, Britain

Many countries have introduced some form of mandatory military conscription. These include North and South Korea, Israel and Denmark. While a majority of people have a negative new of this tradition, there are several advantages to a nation requiring its citizens to serve in the armed forces.

A country can maintain its military edge by recruiting fresh talent regularly and being prepared for any kind of political or other problems. Some may argue that compulsory military service would interfere with an individual’s plan for further education. However, in the army, people gain life skills that would be very useful in the real world. Apart from learning self-defence skills, they would learn about responsibility and teamwork.

Military training also provides people with the opportunity to be more involved in a country’s issues, leading to a better understanding of the government’s decisions and political situation. This means people will have a stronger sense of patriotism and unite for the welfare of the country.

Another advantage of compulsory military service is that people will learn to respect each other and promote equality among all citizens.

It does not matter if you are male or female, rich or poor, the law requires everyone to undergo military training. This will help create a classless society.

Therefore, mandatory military conscription will be a very positive move for Hong Kong because it will promote national unity, raise people’s political awareness and help them gain new knowledge and skills.


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Rai Arlin L., 19, The University of Hong Kong

Mandatory military conscription is often seen as a way to build a large army at a reduced cost. But the majority of enlisted people do not have the motivation required to go through rigorous training and gain top-class military skills.

What’s more, mandatory military conscription in most countries do not last longer than three years. This is not enough to properly train young people for warfare. Indifference and a lack of proper military skills is a dangerous combination. As the saying goes, “it is quality rather than quantity that matters”.

Some countries, such as Singapore or South Korea, may see compulsory military conscription as an effective way to maintain national security and ensure their sovereignty. Hong Kong, however, is a not a sovereign territory or country. In fact, we have the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – the world’s largest military force – to protect us from so-called enemies.

Also, these days, many countries put a lot of emphasis on economic ties with their neighbours. So it is highly unlikely that a war would break out requiring the use of armed forces on a massive scale.

I don’t think Hong Kong needs to worry about any serious conflict harming its economy. Apart from its strong economic growth, China has good relations with most countries and has huge influence on the international stage.

With reduced possibilities of war and the PLA ready to protect the city from any outside threat, there is no need to introduce mandatory military conscription in Hong Kong. Of course, we could have voluntary military conscription, but that’s another story.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

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