SINGAPORE - Everyone has an important role to play to keep Singapore safe through ways such as reporting suspicious parcels at public places, alerting the authorities to help someone who is being radicalised or helping to dispel fake news.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen listed these examples in his Total Defence message on Wednesday (Feb 14), as he urged Singaporeans to stay vigilant even as Chinese New Year celebrations start as early as Thursday's traditional reunion dinner.
On Feb 15, 76 years ago, Singapore fell to Japanese invaders, and people feared for their lives, Dr Ng said.
Keeping in mind Total Defence Day being marked on Thursday reminds Singaporeans about the need to keep the country's defences up in case of an attack, Dr Ng said.
"Hope was lost as the future seemed ominous and uncertain (then)," he said, noting that the day Singapore fell in 1942 was on Chinese New Year.
While local soldiers fought valiantly, they were outnumbered almost 10 to one, Dr Ng said. "The battle was lost and so was Singapore."
To stop history from repeating itself, Singaporeans must play their part in keeping the nation safe, he added.
Reporting suspicious parcels at public places or alerting the authorities to help someone who is being radicalised are ways to fight terrorism.
Participating in emergency preparedness exercises is another way, so that "when an attack occurs, we know how to respond", said Dr Ng.
Dispelling fake news, or at least not spreading it, is important to the nation's defence too, he added.
Dr Ng listed these ways as responses to the new threats that the country faces.
They include cyber attacks that can "disrupt our transport systems and hospitals, shut down water and electricity supply, even cause financial markets to crash".
"A fake news campaign can stir unrest and incite Singaporeans to distrust one another," he added.
The third threat is physical attacks from "terrorists bent on killing and injuring as many innocent civilians as they can", he said.
He urged Singaporeans to, besides taking personal responsibility, pledge together "never again" on Feb 15, Total Defence Day.
"Every Singaporean contributes to military defence," said Dr Ng, adding that national servicemen, who make up a strong Singapore Armed Forces, need supportive families and employers.
Dr Ng's message comes as a Total Defence commemoration event is to be held together with the 51st Civilian War Memorial Ceremony on Thursday.
Attendees will include President Halimah Yacob and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said this year's Total Defence campaign, themed "Together We Keep Singapore Strong", will aim to raise public awareness of the newer and less apparent form of threats that Singapore faces - terrorism, information campaigns and cyber attacks.
"As these threats target the hearts and minds of our people and exploit the fault lines in our increasingly diverse multi-ethnic, multi-religious society to divide our people, there is a need to further fortify our social and psychological defence," it added.
"We will need everyone to step up and play their part to strengthen our unity, resilience and resolve in the face of external pressures."
Other activities lined up this year to mark Total Defence - launched in 1984 - include an exhibition at the Singapore Discovery Centre, a TV series and a new card game.
Total Defence events
AREA 510: SINGAPORE DISCOVERY CENTRE ADVENTURE EVENT
Walk through a fictitious zombie apocalypse and learn different skills to prepare for emergencies through this ticketed event on March 24.
The centre will be made up to look like a safe haven from a zombie outbreak that has taken over Singapore. Event-goers pretend to be survivors, going through a series of missions and challenges.
Cost: Buy tickets priced at $10 until March 18, or $12 afterwards.
THE POWER OF 1: TOTAL DEFENCE SPECIAL EXHIBITION
Cyber threats are a key focus at this exhibition that aims to boost Singapore's psychological defence. Held at the Singapore Discovery Centre until March 25, the exhibition aims to bolster the nation's mental readiness to face a crisis.
Cost: Free admission for Singaporeans and permanent residents.
TOTAL DEFENCE PUZZLE
Look out for 35 Total Defence actions that range from befriending people of different ethnicities to picking up life-saving skills such as cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. The puzzle can be found online.
#WEARETOTALDEFENCE COLOURING ACTIVITY
Download the puzzle from the Total Defence website and colour in the image.
•More information on this year's line-up for Total Defence is available at www.totaldefence.sg, and on the Total Defence Facebook page.