'Every S'porean has a role' in state's security

President Tan highlights importance of vigilance in face of threats like terrorism

President Tan waving to the media during a ride in the Super Puma during his visit to the RSAF's Sembawang Air Base yesterday.
President Tan waving to the media during a ride in the Super Puma during his visit to the RSAF's Sembawang Air Base yesterday.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Every Singaporean has a role to play in the country's security, especially in the face of complex threats such as terrorism, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said yesterday.

Citing the recent plot by extremists to fire a rocket from Batam into Marina Bay, Dr Tan noted: "The threat of a terrorist attack on Singapore is very real. It will happen one of these days. We must be prepared to recover, continue to keep our social cohesion, not allow it to disrupt our social harmony (and) multi-religious peace."

Dr Tan further stressed: "We cannot leave our security only to the Singapore Armed Forces... Every Singaporean has a role to play... We have to stay vigilant, look out for each other, strengthen our social cohesion, build up our resilience."

Dr Tan was at Sembawang Air Base visiting the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) 125 Squadron and 126 Squadron. This was his first visit to a local airbase since being elected President in 2011.

With him were Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, Chief of Air Force Major-General Mervyn Tan and Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Perry Lim.

During his visit, the President was briefed on the capabilities of the RSAF's helicopters, took a ride in a Super Puma as well as observed a search and rescue demonstration involving the helicopter.

Dr Tan, who was Defence Minister from 1995 to 2003, yesterday also noted that the RSAF has been instrumental in saving lives and ensuring security through its numerous search and rescue, counter-piracy and counter-terrorism missions, among others.

Pointing to the threat of terrorist attacks, he said: "We have to be prepared. We have to build up our capabilities in order to meet these new challenges. I am glad that the Singapore Armed Forces, including the RSAF which keeps our skies clear and safe for Singapore, continues to upgrade its capabilities."

Dr Tan also interacted with RSAF personnel, thanking them for their service.

One of them, Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Sim, 44, Super Puma pilot and commanding officer of 125 Squadron, said her team was "very ready" to respond to any terrorist situation.

"We have more emphasis in our counter-terrorism training now. We are making sure that our guys are in tip-top condition... and we are training more and more pilots to be very proficient in this role."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline ''Every S'porean has a role' in state's security'. Subscribe