Digital Defence to be sixth Total Defence pillar, signalling importance of cyber security

In his annual Total Defence Day message, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen stressed that cyber-security threats and disinformation are a serious danger to Singapore, and emphasised the need to be vigilant against them.
In his annual Total Defence Day message, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen stressed that cyber-security threats and disinformation are a serious danger to Singapore, and emphasised the need to be vigilant against them.PHOTO: FACEBOOK / NG ENG HEN

SINGAPORE - The Republic will introduce Digital Defence as the sixth pillar in its national defence framework Total Defence, signalling the threat cyber attacks and disinformation pose, and the importance of cyber security.

It is the first time a new pillar has been added to the framework since it was launched 35 years ago.

In his annual Total Defence Day message on Thursday (Feb 14), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen stressed that cyber-security threats and disinformation are a serious danger to Singapore, and emphasised the need to be vigilant against them.

"Security threats can be real and physical like terrorism or, just as damaging, can come through the cyber world."

"Malicious malware can cripple our systems. Fake news can cause racial riots and divide our people," added Dr Ng in his message, which was uploaded on Facebook.

The Digital Defence pillar will be officially launched on Friday by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, who is also the Minister-in-Charge of Cyber Security.

It joins the other five pillars of Total Defence: Military, Civil, Economic, Social and Psychological Defence.

In his speech, Dr Ng reiterated that the purpose of Total Defence Day, which falls on Feb 15, is to remember the Japanese Occupation.

On Feb 15, 1942, the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese, who occupied the country till Sept 12, 1945.

 
 
 
 

"Our parents and grandparents suffered in the three-and-a half years of deprivation and humiliation that followed."

"We remember those events of the Japanese Occupation to teach every new generation of Singaporeans about the price of failure to defend this country," he said.

Total Defence was launched in 1984 as a national defence initiative to rally all citizens behind the Singapore Armed Forces during wartime.

It was also envisaged to build up a sense of determination for Singaporeans to defend the country under all circumstances.

The framework has since undergone reviews and changes, but this is the first time a pillar outside of the original five conceptualised is being added.

Total Defence is now contextualised to address new threats, and applied to address non-military challenges too, such as economic recessions, pandemics and natural disasters.

On its website, the Ministry of Defence notes that the defence framework has seen Singapore through the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) episode in 2003; the fall-out from the Sept 11, 2001 attacks in the United States; the economic crises of 1997 and 2008; and the haze in recent years.