Strong, capable SAF needed to safeguard sovereignty: Eng Hen

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (centre), flanked by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong and SCCCI president Roland Ng, reciting the SAF Pledge with representatives from over 100 companies at Jurong Town Hall yesterday.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (centre), flanked by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong and SCCCI president Roland Ng, reciting the SAF Pledge with representatives from over 100 companies at Jurong Town Hall yesterday.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
SAF veterans reciting the SAF Pledge during the SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony. There were four such ceremonies held around the island yesterday.
SAF veterans reciting the SAF Pledge during the SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony. There were four such ceremonies held around the island yesterday.

A strong and capable Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is needed to safeguard the country's sovereignty and way of life, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

Citing the SAF's successful contribution to last month's meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Dr Ng said that Singaporeans can take pride that the country's "steady investments over the years into building a defence capability have paid off".

As a result, Singaporeans are now generally confident that the SAF can be called on to defend Singapore and keep them safe, said Dr Ng.

"That confidence arises not only because of modern armaments and platforms but, most importantly, because SAF soldiers, mainly operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), are ready and prepared to defend our peace and way of life," Dr Ng said when he delivered the SAF Day message at the annual SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony at Jurong Town Hall.

SAF Day, which calls on servicemen to reaffirm their loyalty and commitment to the defence of Singapore, is commemorated on July 1 every year.

The Jurong Town Hall ceremony, hosted by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), was one of four around the island yesterday. Each was officiated by a minister, and saw participants reaffirming their commitment to defending Singapore.

RESPONSIBILITY

Train your men well but do it safely. Above all, never abuse your authority but earn their respect with your integrity and professionalism.

DEFENCE MINISTER NG ENG HEN, reminding SAF commanders that care for the well-being of soldiers should be their "paramount concern" during peacetime.

Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung was at a ceremony in Temasek Polytechnic, while Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo was at another one at Suntec Singapore. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee also officiated at a ceremony at the Singapore Institute of Technology in Dover. A total of 983 NSmen from 407 companies attended the ceremonies.

Dr Ng said that the SAF's commitment to defending Singapore was born of the realisation that Singaporeans had to defend the country themselves, following the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s and Konfrontasi in the 1960s.

That commitment to defending Singapore was on full display during the recent Trump-Kim summit held in Sentosa, he said, adding that such "highly visible meetings could attract mischief and even mayhem, especially from terrorists".

"But the stout defence by the SAF and the Home Team deterred such actors. So even though the time and place of the summit were made known in advance to the world, no security threats surfaced," said Dr Ng, noting the protective dome around Sentosa that the SAF formed in the air, on land and in the sea, with munitions loaded and ready to be fired.

COMMITMENT

This event shows that unity represents strength, and we gather to show a commitment to the defence of Singapore.

MR SIMON KUAH, executive director at Seng Choon Engineering, who was among company representatives at the ceremonies.

Dr Ng yesterday also reminded SAF commanders that care for the well-being of soldiers should be their "paramount concern" during peacetime.

"Train your men well but do it safely," said Dr Ng. "Above all, never abuse your authority but earn their respect with your integrity and professionalism."

Mr Simon Kuah, an executive director at Seng Choon Engineering, was among the company representatives who observed a ceremony and pledged to support the country in its defence.

"This event shows that unity represents strength, and we gather to show a commitment to the defence of Singapore," said the 65-year-old.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2018, with the headline 'Strong, capable SAF needed to safeguard sovereignty: Eng Hen'. Print Edition | Subscribe