SINGAPORE – For 47 residents of Chua Chu Kang, Total Defence became not just someone else’s responsibility when they met on Monday to brainstorm solutions to a potential crisis.
From students to community and business leaders, they were taking part in the first Total Defence Table-top Exercise, aimed at bringing members of the community together to develop plans that can be implemented at such times.
Total Defence, introduced in 1984, is a framework made up of six pillars of national defence: military, civil, economic, social, psychological and digital.
The participants were presented with a scenario set in 2040, in which Singapore’s food supply has been disrupted by the effects of climate change as well as a natural disaster in the region.
Marketing manager Nicholas Ee said the possibility was not too “far-fetched”.
“When I saw the scenario, I could understand that this is something that could happen very soon,” said the 47-year-old father of two, who also chairs the Brickland Community Club management committee.
Some of the solutions suggested were to grow their own vegetables, turn to alternative food sources, and organise group buys of food to reduce wastage.
The exercise allowed participants to tap one another’s strengths to develop workable solutions, said Mr Ee.
Their plans were presented to Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong at an event held at Chua Chu Kang Community Club on Wednesday to commemorate Total Defence Day.
Speaking at the event, Mr Gan, who is an MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, noted that the world is currently going through a “very turbulent period”, pointing to the Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as growing tensions between China and the United States.
The table-top exercise was a reminder that people here must be ready for crises, he said.
He added that the authorities hoped to scale up such exercises to allow more communities to take part in them in the future.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamed, who also attended the event, noted that Total Defence Day is commemorated on Feb 15 to mark the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II.
“The world is vastly different now but we continue to face global uncertainties and Total Defence remains relevant for helping us overcome challenges that may come our way,” he said in a Facebook post.
Organised by Total Defence central agency Nexus, the Ministry of Defence and Chua Chu Kang grassroots organisations, the event also featured exhibits by national water agency PUB and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, as well as local agrotechnology firm V-Plus Agritech.
The company displayed its aquaponics system, in which fish farming is combined with hydroponics to create a self-sustaining system.
With fish waste providing nutrients for the vegetables, as well as the use of translucent solar panels to generate electricity for lighting and other needs, such a system could be used to develop net-zero farms, said V-Plus Agritech co-founder James Yin.