Outgoing Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng to enter politics

Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng (centre) bidding the parade farewell.
Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng (centre) bidding the parade farewell.ST PHOTO: JERMYN CHOW

SINGAPORE - Outgoing Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng has confirmed that he will enter politics, pledging that he will consult widely, listen actively and have humility to seek the best ideas from people.

Lieutenant-General Ng revealed where he would be headed next in an interview on Tuesday ahead of a full-regalia parade during which he handed over command to Major-General Perry Lim.

"I have decided with the blessings of my family to step forward... to serve the Singapore where I grew up in, giving me all the opportunities through our meritocratic system, which is not something that I've seen in many parts of the world.

"I'm indebted to Singapore and grateful for the opportunties," added Lt-Gen Ng, who is married with two daughters.

After reaping the benefits from society, Lt-Gen Ng, 47, said he wants to give back to society because he holds the spirit of "yin shui si yuan" - the Chinese saying for remembering one's roots - closely to heart.

"When we have some success, take care of the rest. Make sure that we can create the same opportunities if not better opportunities for others and future generations to succeed," said Lt-Gen Ng, who stepped down from the top military post after serving for 29 years.

In his military career, Lt-Gen Ng commanded the 144th Squadron, which operates the F-5 Tigers, was the SAF's joint operations director and the air force chief.

As defence chief, he recently led the preparations for the Golden Jubilee National Day Parade and the state funeral of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died on March 23.

He said that the way Singaporeans came together and united during the week of mourning for the late Mr Lee will be "an important and critical ingredient in our next lap together as Singaporeans".

He added that good politics and good leadership are essential for Singapore and for Singaporeans "to have a brighter future".

If Lt-Gen Ng contests the coming election, widely tipped to be held next month, as a People's Action Party candidate, the three-star general will be the highest-ranking Singapore Armed Forces officer to join the party. Labour Chief Chan Chun Sing, the former army chief, stepped down in 2011 as a major-general (two-star). Lt-Gen Ng is touted by sources as a candidate with the potential of becoming an office-holder.

Acknowledging that he will enter politics with "eyes wide open", Lt-Gen Ng said: "I'm well prepared after being the SAF for so long. I think I have the leadership and organisation skills to add value if I'm called to serve in a new capacity."

The parade, held at the Safti Military Institute, was witnessed by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and army, air force and navy chiefs, who were among some 2,100 guests present. Also in the crowd were the families of Lt-Gen Ng and MG Lim.

On parade were 13 contingents of 1,100 soldiers, airmen and sailors.

In his speech at the change of command parade, Lt-Gen Ng said he is confident that the SAF will deliver whenever it is called into action, adding that it is the national servicemen and regulars who are "always serving with pride and unwavering commitment".

"I have seen you all consistently going beyond the call of duty in service to our nation. To all of you, my comrades in the SAF: You are the main source of my confidence, the strength of the SAF," said Lt-Gen Ng.