Graphic designer's second try gets onto shortlist in Total Defence logo revamp competition

Mr Koh Yoke Chye's Total Defence logo design is among the 10 shortlisted which the public can vote on till the end of the year. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KOH YOKE CHYE

SINGAPORE - In 1985, Mr Koh Yoke Chye took part in the first Total Defence logo design competition as a full-time national serviceman with the police academy but did not win.

This year, the graphic designer is trying again in the second logo contest, as the current design is being revamped for the first time to incorporate digital defence as the sixth pillar of Total Defence.

Mr Koh, 54, who graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, told The Straits Times: "I wanted to challenge myself to see how far I have come after more than 30 years since the first competition."

His design is among the 10 shortlisted entries which the public can vote on till the end of the year.

It features five red lines that turn into six lines in the shape of the digit "6". Mr Koh wanted a "softer" look by not using motifs such as shields, weapons and armour.

Asked what Total Defence meant to him, he said: "I think Total Defence is important to every generation... In changing times, it is vital for people from the older generations like me to be well-versed in the use of technology and to be aware of potential pitfalls."

More than 600 designs were submitted to Nexus, the agency under the Ministry of Defence responsible for Total Defence and national education, by the closing date in September.

In 1985, more than 1,700 designs were submitted with the theme of "There's a part for everyone in total defence of Singapore". More than 20,000 people voted for the winning entry by freelance designer Berwin See.

The logo is in the outline of a hand, meant to symbolise action, unity and completeness. The five arrows represent the five pillars of Total Defence: military, civil, economic, social and psychological defence.

The sixth pillar, digital defence, was added to the total defence framework in February this year, signalling the threats of cyber attacks and disinformation.

The winner of the logo re-design contest will be awarded $5,000. The nine other shortlisted designers will be given $500 worth of prizes each. The public can vote for their favourite design at

The youngest designer out of the shortlisted entries is 16-year-old Fleming Siow Yi, who has just completed his O levels.

He said that Total Defence is a day to commemorate how much Singapore has grown from its past.

"The kinsmanship that many Singaporeans have demonstrated became the main inspiration behind my design.

"That shield, symbolising Singapore's strength and power, as the six core pillars work together to help maintain it for many years to come," he added.

Another shortlisted designer, Mr Abdurrahman Ja'afar, 27, came up with a design of a lion surrounded by a dome with six pointed edges.

The dome was inspired by science fiction where future cities are surrounded to protect humanity from external dangers, he said.

Mr Abdurrahman, who studied communication design at RMIT University and works in graphic design, acknowledged that some Singaporeans might love a sense of familiarity, but hopes his entry can challenge the status quo.

"A refreshed look. A bolder, prouder image to go along with our even stronger Total Defence now. I hope this will resonate with people," he added.

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