Never take peace for granted in today's high-risk environment: Ng Eng Hen

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (centre) at a panel discussion during the 52nd Munich Security Conference.
Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (centre) at a panel discussion during the 52nd Munich Security Conference. PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/ FACEBOOK

The security risks have heightened today and peace must not be taken for granted, said Singapore's Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen in his Facebook post.

Dr Ng, who was in Munich to address a forum at the 52nd Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Saturday (Feb 13), noted: "The crises in Crimea and Ukraine, the terror attacks in France and the flood of refugees into Europe are now in focus. As I attend these meetings, it reaffirms for me that Singapore must never take our peace for granted nor let our guard down. Unlike Europe, we have only ourselves to depend on for our safety and security. Forget that and we risk losing Singapore."

The Defence Minister stated that previously, the Conference had focused on enjoying the "peace dividend" following the end of the Cold War, but this is no longer the case at present.

"Militaries in almost all European countries focused on downsizing their strength in response to the new and more peaceful normal. Indeed, questions were being asked about the need for NATO!" he added, referring to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. "That is no longer the case - now security risks have gone up and are seen as bleak."

Turning to regional security, Dr Ng said he was heartened that the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress of China, Madam Fu Ying, has acknowledged that Beijing was on a steep learning curve and had to better explain itself on international fora. If it did not, others would provide alternate narratives and sow suspicion.

Madam Fu, a co-panelist at the Conference whose speech on China's role in the world and its contributions to global governance, touched on security in the Korean Peninsula, and the role the United States and North Korea can play by making peace rather than resorting to military buildups which increase tensions in the area.

Dr Ng said in his Facebook post that he stated that Singapore will play its part to forge a stable international order with greater co-operation between China and the region.