Strong SAF, S'poreans both play a role in security, says President

President Tony Tan inspecting the guard yesterday at Changi Naval Base. This is his first visit to the base since being elected in 2011. Dr Tan was the Defence Minister between 1995 and 2003.
President Tony Tan inspecting the guard yesterday at Changi Naval Base. This is his first visit to the base since being elected in 2011. Dr Tan was the Defence Minister between 1995 and 2003.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The peace and security Singapore has enjoyed since independence cannot be taken for granted as "the natural order of things" and people must work hard to preserve it, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said yesterday.

After visiting the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) stealth frigate and submarine, Dr Tan emphasised the importance of having a strong and capable SAF and urged Singaporeans not to rest on their laurels.

"We have achieved a great deal with the frigates and the submarines... but the Singapore Armed Forces always has to stride new ground with new capabilities."

Faced with new threats, including militant groups like Jemaah Islamiah and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the SAF will have to develop capabilities to enable it to conduct military operations, and non-conventional missions such as humanitarian and disaster relief missions, he said.

Yesterday's visit to Changi Naval Base was the President's first since being elected in 2011. Also present were Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, defence chief Perry Lim and navy chief Lai Chung Han.

During the visit, Dr Tan was briefed on the latest developments on both the frigate and its naval helicopter. The President, who was the Defence Minister between 1995 and 2003, initiated the frigate and submarine programmes. Noting that Singapore is "on much better base now", he said he is confident that the country is "in good hands".

But the defence of Singapore is not the responsibility of only the SAF or the RSN, added Dr Tan. "They are the cutting edge. The defence of Singapore depends on all Singaporeans, all of us must pay a part in making sure that Singapore is safe and secure."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'Strong SAF, S'poreans both play a role in security, says President'. Print Edition | Subscribe