Forum: Self-sufficency critical to our survival

The idea of producing masks in Singapore is a reminder for us to cherish the value of strategic capability in times of crisis (Singapore should produce its own masks, by Mr David Kong Feb 11).

Having gone through the dark days of the Japanese Occupation, I raised the issue of Singapore's food production capability with the chairman of the Economic Development Board in the 1970s.

The recent panic buying of essential items brings to mind unpleasant experiences in past crises and underscores the importance of being strategically prepared.

We as a nation need to learn from the Japanese to imbue a culture of stoicism in the face of natural disasters. It took many decades for the Japanese to nurture this quality of being calm, orderly and ready for crises.

When a crisis strikes, public announcements can only do so much in an unprepared city. Mask production facilities initiated by large Chinese factories demonstrate the importance of self-sufficiency in times of crisis.

For strategic reasons, China protects its essential food supply chains, refusing to buy American rice, for instance.

Are we prepared for long periods of lockdown?

As a sovereign nation, we should be well prepared in basic food production, with our own strategic industries as backup, in the event that the general stockpile runs out.

We need to earmark sufficient land to protect basic agricultural and aquamarine seafood industries for national security because the fallout from global warming, pandemics and conflicts is unpredictable.

It is also wise to implement mandatory "limited quantity" purchases of daily necessities in supermarkets during non-crisis periods to prepare citizens for rationing in times of crisis.

We must maintain local production capability while working with trusted regional and global suppliers.

At the end of the day, should there be an unexpected lockdown, we would have to depend on ourselves.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

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