Forum: Proud of Singapore's contributions in overseas aid and relief

RSAF personnel loading firefighting and relief supplies onto a Chinook bound for Royal Australian Air Force Base East Sale in Victoria state. Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Australia's bush fires have already destroyed more than 6 milli
RSAF personnel loading firefighting and relief supplies onto a Chinook bound for Royal Australian Air Force Base East Sale in Victoria state. Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Australia's bush fires have already destroyed more than 6 million ha of land - "the size of 80 Singapores".PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

It is quite apparent now how Singapore's armed forces are capable of contributing significantly to humanitarian aid in peacetime.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force provided one of Singapore's largest humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during the Asian tsunami of 2004.

Singapore's Chinook helicopters based in Texas assisted in evacuation operations during Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005 and during Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017.

Also, Singapore's C-130 transport aircraft airlifted humanitarian supplies when Typhoon Haiyan struck Cebu, Philippines, in 2013, and when an earthquake hit Hualien in Taiwan in 2018.

And just recently, Singapore deployed two Chinook helicopters to help in the battle against bush fires in Australia (SAF aid in firefighting efforts lauded by Aussies and S'poreans, Jan 8).

Such initiatives by the country in giving a helping hand to its friends in times of need must have been viewed favourably not only by the affected countries, but also by the world.

In addition to cementing its relationship with the world, the Republic may also inadvertently be building up its soft power.

Roy Goh Hin Soon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2020, with the headline 'Proud of S'pore's contributions in overseas aid and relief'. Print Edition | Subscribe