New Chief of Defence Force takes over reins of SAF

The 300, 000 men and women of the Singapore Armed Forces have a new leader. Major-General Ng Chee Meng, who was the air force chief, is the new - and Singapore's eighth - Chief of Defence Force (CDF).

The 44-year-old took over the reins from Lieutenant-General Neo Kian Hong, 48, in a parade at the Safti Military Institute on Wednesday. The ceremony was witnessed by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Senior Minister of State for Defence Chan Chun Sing and other service chiefs, who were among the 3,000 guests. Also present were the families of Lt-Gen Neo and Maj-Gen Ng.

In his speech, the new defence chief said the SAF will continue to beef up its operational capabilities. All servicemen will also "strengthen our tribe by growing our shared sense of pride and purpose".

Maj-Gen Ng also paid tribute to Lt-Gen Neo, who joined the SAF in 1983 and served as defence chief for three years. He said that under Lt-Gen Neo, "the SAF today is a more potent and integrated fighting force".

In his farewell speech, Lt-Gen Neo, a guardsman who joined the SAF in 1983, said he has come to realise that the strength of the SAF lies not in its equipment or ability to conduct operations.

"Instead, our strength lies in the readiness, of every able-bodied male citizen, to defend our nation," he said. Lt-Gen Neo will return to the civil service.