S'pore must be ready to defend itself and can't count on being lucky: PM Lee

PM Lee launching the SAF50 book as Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (left) and Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng look on.
PM Lee launching the SAF50 book as Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (left) and Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng look on.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
PM Lee shaking hands with SWO Selvanathan.
PM Lee shaking hands with SWO Selvanathan.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
(From left) SWO Selvanathan, LTC (Ret) Tan Kim Peng Clarence, SLTC Jerica Goh and COL (NS) Abu Bakar at the dinner.
(From left) SWO Selvanathan, LTC (Ret) Tan Kim Peng Clarence, SLTC Jerica Goh and COL (NS) Abu Bakar at the dinner.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - When Singapore is faced with troubles, it cannot depend on being "lucky" to avoid problems that may come its way, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Even as Singapore celebrates 50 years of peace, nobody can be sure there will be no tensions and conflict in Asia, said PM Lee at a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) on Friday night.

"We must be ready to defend ourselves if problems come our way," he added.

A strong SAF and full commitment from all its servicemen is needed to keep the country safe, said Mr Lee.

Paying tribute to the pioneers who have served the country, PM Lee said even though the first generation of soldiers have long retired, their spirit "must live on in all of us".

"And their values of courage and self-sacrifice, of service to the nation, must be handed down from generation to generation," PM Lee told some 1,000 guests, including 200 pioneers, at the dinner at Pasir Laba Camp.

The dinner venue was significant, for it was the original site where the SAF trained its first leaders and also where the first National Service enlistees trained nearly 50 years ago.

PM Lee expressed appreciation to generations of operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) and members of the public who have supported the system, especially parents who have "sent their sons and daughters to serve the nation".

On Friday night, PM Lee also launched a book, Giving Strength To Our Nation: The SAF And Its People, to commemorate the SAF's Golden Jubilee.