SAF must remain vigilant against threats to Singapore's security amid troubled times: Ng Eng Hen

Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel patrolling at Westgate shopping centre.
Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel patrolling at Westgate shopping centre.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) must remain vigilant against threats to the country's security in these "troubled times", said Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen on Friday (June 30).

He was speaking at the first of four combined rededication ceremonies held across the island on Friday where operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) reaffirmed their dedication to the SAF and the nation.

Addressing a crowd of 105 NSmen from 128 companies at the rededication ceremony at Temasek Polytechnic, Dr Ng noted that terror attacks have occurred in the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Melbourne, Sydney, Paris and London.

"The SAF must stay active and alert against the threats to our security. We live in troubled and violent times and must guard against extremist terrorists who would do us harm, here and abroad," he said.

Dr Ng added that a strong SAF is the "most effective deterrence against potential aggressors".

"But the SAF can only be as strong as its individual soldiers, and each national serviceman and regular must give of his and her best to protect our beloved Singapore," he said. "This SAF Day, let us solemnly pledge to defend our home and fellow Singaporeans - our families, friends, colleagues and neighbours."

The minister also noted that Singapore's manpower pool for full-time national servicemen will shrink in the coming years, almost by a third by 2030.

But Dr Ng said the SAF is "well prepared for this significant change and will continue to be a capable and advanced military".

"We will harness technology to allow the SAF to see further and sharper, to move quicker, and with more precise and lethal firepower," he said.

The first batch of 9,000 national servicemen was conscripted in 1967.

The rededication ceremony at Temasek Polytechnic for the north/north-east zone, which Dr Ng officiated, was organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) - the eighth time the association has organised the ceremony.

The pledge leader for the north/north-east rededication ceremony, Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC)(NS) Peter Lam Kok Wai, led 105 NSmen from 128 participating companies in reciting the SAF pledge. LTC(NS) Lam is also the principal and chief executive officer of Temasek Polytechnic.

Since July 1, 1988, SAF Day combined rededication ceremonies have been held every year. The ceremonies are held across the north/north-east, west, east, and south/Central Business District zones, and organised by civilian partner organisations on a voluntary basis.

These organisers, in turn, invite their business partners, as well as companies located in their zone, to participate in the ceremonies. These ceremonies are attended by NSmen and their employers and civilian colleagues.

Mr Adrin Loi, 63, executive chairman of Yakun International, attends the ceremony every year.

Mr Loi, who has a son and three grandsons, told The Straits Times: "We are sons of Singapore. Being a citizen of Singapore, I feel that sense of loyalty to protect my country. I want to inculcate a vigilant and robust attitude (in the younger generation), so they grow up to be strong and able-bodied to protect Singapore."

He added: "I enjoyed my national service more than 30 years ago, and still haven't forgotten my time there. It makes you a man."

Mr Lawrence Koh, 40, the founder and chief executive of iFly Singapore, who was at the ceremony for the first time, said it served as a reminder that Singaporeans should not be complacent or take national security for granted. "It keeps this dedication (to protect Singapore) close to heart," he said.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli officiated at the other three rededication ceremonies at The JTC Summit, Singapore Institute of Technology @Dover, and Procter & Gamble's Singapore Innovation Centre respectively.

More than 460 NSmen from 380 companies and their employers gathered at the four combined rededication ceremonies, which this year also featured an NS50 pledge ceremony to commemorate 50 years of national service.

A total of 372 participating companies have signed the NS Mark Declaration of Support to pledge their support for NS.

Said Dr Ng: "This year's SAF Day is special because we commemorate 50 years of national service. As a small country with limited manpower, we could not have built today's strong SAF without the commitment and whole-hearted support of national servicemen."