SAF aid in firefighting efforts lauded by Aussies and Singaporeans

RSAF personnel loading firefighting and relief supplies onto a Chinook bound for Royal Australian Air Force Base East Sale in Victoria state. Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Australia's bush fires have already destroyed more than 6 milli
RSAF personnel loading firefighting and relief supplies onto a Chinook bound for Royal Australian Air Force Base East Sale in Victoria state. Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Australia's bush fires have already destroyed more than 6 million ha of land - "the size of 80 Singapores".PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

Singapore's deployment of two helicopters and 42 soldiers to Australia, in support of the country's ongoing efforts to put out raging bush fires that have destroyed more than 2,000 homes, has been welcomed by Australians and Singaporeans.

ABC Melbourne, a radio station in Melbourne, put up a Facebook post yesterday thanking Singapore for its assistance, eliciting praise from hundreds of Facebook users.

"Fantastic Singapore! That's exactly what neighbours are about," one wrote.

"When tragedies strike, we humans have an amazing capacity, thank you Singapore. This is why we develop great relationships with our neighbouring countries," another commented.

On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for offering help in the country's time of need.

Two Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Chinooks took off from Oakey, Australia, with 42 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel for Royal Australian Air Force Base East Sale in Victoria, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post yesterday.

He said the helicopters will transport firefighting and relief supplies, as well as help to evacuate residents from the affected areas.

"Australia has welcomed SAF troops to train there for decades and, in their time of great need, it's only natural that the SAF do our best to help their people and communities affected by this unexpected natural disaster."

Dr Ng said the bush fires, which began in November, have already destroyed more than 6 million ha of land - "the size of 80 Singapores".

"As a small city state, it's hard for us to imagine the massive scale of the destruction wrought by the bush fires in Australia," he said.

The fires have claimed 25 lives.

The deployment prompted some with links between the two countries to voice their appreciation.

 
 

Facebook user Byron Chen, a Singaporean who emigrated to Australia, said it "really made me smile to see my home country jumping in to help out at my adopted home".

Mr Jason Ess, an Australian living in Singapore with his family, wrote: "I am feeling very proud and humbled by this."

The fires are expected to continue with strong winds and persistent drought forecast.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2020, with the headline 'SAF aid in firefighting efforts lauded by Aussies and S'poreans'. Print Edition | Subscribe