Coronavirus: SAF takes extra precautions at officer commissioning parade

Parade attendees at the Safti Military Institute undergoing temperature screening yesterday.
Parade attendees at the Safti Military Institute undergoing temperature screening yesterday.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

Half the number of guests, no post-parade dinner and families seated at least 2m apart.

A scheduled officer cadet commissioning parade proceeded as normal yesterday, with some extra precautions because of the coronavirus situation.

A total of 227 cadets - 161 from the army, 24 from the navy and 42 from the air force - were commissioned as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), following 38 weeks of rigorous training at the Officer Cadet School.

The Government had announced the day before that Singapore would be taking strong measures to stop the virus from spreading within the country, using social distancing as a major line of defence.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said that compared with past cadet commissioning parades, there were half as many invited guests, and the customary post-parade dinner was cancelled.

"All attendees were required to undergo temperature screening and declare their travel history, reminded not to attend if they felt unwell, and provided with access to hand sanitisers," said Mindef.

"Attendees were also tagged to their seating arrangements in the parade square to assist contact tracing, if necessary," it added.

The commissioning parade at Safti Military Institute was reviewed by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who highlighted the importance of a strong SAF in upholding Singapore's national interest.

He said: "The SAF, like Singapore, may be small in size, but it stands tall and proud to defend our rights and advance our national interests.


"The source of that strength lies not just in modern and sophisticated weaponry, but also in the heart and dedication of the people who make up the SAF."

Noting the responsibility the newly commissioned officers have as leaders, Mr Masagos told the 227 officers that their duty was to rally and nurture all Singaporeans regardless of their race, religion and socioeconomic background.

"You will have to inspire them to serve with distinction and commit to the common cause of keeping Singapore safe and secure," he said.

The extra social distancing measures did not dampen the spirit of officers such as Lieutenant Regina Lim, 24, who was presented the Sword of Merit, an accolade given to the top 10 per cent of the graduating cohort.

When asked how she felt to be commissioned, she said: "I feel really happy because it's been a long time... every day, we do exercises that are physically taxing.

"Being able to finally be commissioned is an honour and I have been looking forward to this day since the start of basic military training."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 15, 2020, with the headline 'SAF takes extra precautions at officer commissioning parade'. Print Edition | Subscribe