SINGAPORE - Describing the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) as a key pillar in Singapore's fight against terrorism, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli urged its newest officers to draw strength from their mission, the country's pioneers, and loved ones as they carry out their responsibilities.
He was speaking at a parade at the SAFTI Military Institute on Saturday evening, when 335 cadets, comprising 280 from the Army and 55 from the Air Force, were commissioned as officers.
He made it clear that the threat of terrorism facing Singapore is clear and present, just as in Brussels and Jakarta, where recent attacks took place. But added that "a strong defence, a vigilant society, and a resilient people will all make terrorists think twice about possibly causing harm here".
"ISIS has named Singapore as a target, and is encouraging its South-east Asian fighting unit, the Katibah Nusantara, to strike right here. We are an attractive target because our multi-racial, multi-religious society defies their worldview. Terrorists do not discriminate in their mission to cause fear. They target civilians, of all races and religions. They threaten not only our existence, but the way we lead our lives. They tug and tear at our strong multi-racial social fabric that we have knit over the years," he said.
When the going gets tough, he told the new officers to draw strength from the knowledge that Singapore's safety rests with them as SAF's leaders, and they should inspire nothing less than the highest standards of professionalism and discipline in those under their charge.
He also highlighted the role of SAF pioneers in building up the armed forces into one that is respected. "No one gave Singapore a fighting chance when we gained independence 50 years ago. But our SAF pioneers persevered with a can-do spirit... That is no small feat, considering the SAF's humble beginnings of two infantry battalions, two missile gunboats and no air force. So draw strength from this can-do spirit from our pioneers," he said.
"Finally, draw strength from the people you love and protect," he added. "Draw strength from the knowledge that one day, you may be called upon to defend their lives and livelihood, and of those who call Singapore home."
The parade marked the completion of 38 weeks of training at the Officer Cadet School.