Forum: Defence of Singapore remains paramount

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How is right to say that the Singapore Armed Force's (SAF) mission is to defend Singapore whether there is a virus or not (SAF takes measures to prevent spread of virus, Feb 12).

Although the Covid-19 situation is undoubtedly important and of grave concern, it should not cause us to overreact and obfuscate the reality of the still very real and important issue of the defence of Singapore.

In his New York Times bestseller Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead And Win, former Navy Seal turned author, management consultant and motivational speaker Jocko Willink said that commanders, as leaders, must take 100 per cent ownership of, and responsibility for, everything under their jurisdiction.

That naturally includes, of course, care for soldiers' safety and well-being. It is, therefore, heartening that SAF commanders are also concurrently taking ownership of their soldiers' safety and well-being in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, such as encouraging soldiers to let their commanders know whenever they are feeling unwell, so that they can be assessed by medical centres.

We have to exercise supreme caution during times like this and not cause a panic, which will create conflict and division, and destroy Singapore's defence and social resilience.

Just as the relevant government agencies are working hard to ensure that Singapore's supply chains are not disrupted in the face of Covid-19, let us also stand with our soldiers, and other service personnel and front-line operators, as they continue to work hard and safeguard Singapore's defence, and ride out these challenging times.

Woon Wee Min

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