Sunday, 26 July 2015

Strong SAF needed for Singapore: PM Lee Hsien Loong

He says full commitment from all servicemen needed as armed forces mark 50th year
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2015

Singapore cannot count on being "lucky enough" to avoid problems that may come its way, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

While Singapore has enjoyed 50 years of peace, nobody can be sure there will be no tensions and conflict in Asia, he said last night at a dinner to mark the 50th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Singaporeans "must be ready to defend ourselves if problems come our way", he said, adding that there is a need for a strong SAF which expects full commitment from all its servicemen.

These include citizen soldiers who are willing to serve the nation, as well as career soldiers who take pride in their uniform.

Since Singapore became independent in 1965, the Republic's ability and resolve to defend itself were "never in doubt", said Mr Lee, thanks to the pioneer soldiers, regulars and operationally-ready national servicemen.

At the dinner, Mr Lee thanked members of the public for supporting national service and parents who have "sent their sons and daughters to serve the nation". He also paid tribute to the pioneer soldiers, saying "their values of courage and self-sacrifice, of service to the nation, must be handed down from generation to generation".

About 1,000 guests attended the dinner at Pasir Laba Camp, including Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Second Minister for Defence Lui Tuck Yew, as well as past defence chiefs like Mr Desmond Kuek.

They also included 230 pioneers, such as retired navy officer William Wee, who patrolled Singapore's coastline during Konfrontasi, the period of hostilities with Indonesia in the 1960s.

The dinner venue was significant as it was the original site where SAF trained its first leaders, noted Mr Lee, who served in the SAF for 13 years and was a brigadier-general before he joined politics.

Last night, Mr Lee also launched a book, Giving Strength To Our Nation: The SAF And Its People, to mark the SAF's Golden Jubilee.

Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng told reporters that the drive and commitment of SAF servicemen originated not just from a desire to succeed. He said it was also about a sense of duty to the country and to Singaporeans, to ensure that each generation of Singaporeans can chase their dreams in a peaceful environment.

Singapore has enjoyed 50 years of peace, thanks to a strong Singapore Armed Forces, and the blood, sweat and tears of...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, July 24, 2015

Photo highlights from the dinner.[Admin: Read earlier post on SAF50 Dinner at]
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Friday, July 24, 2015

Veterans can share experiences, says retired general
By Lim Yi Han, The Straits Times, 25 Jul 2015

Even though the pioneer generation of soldiers have retired, they still play an important role in ensuring that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) stay strong.

And these veterans should share their experiences with younger soldiers so they will appreciate how far Singapore has come, said Lieutenant-General (Ret) Winston Choo yesterday. "We should tell them what it was like in our time, when we had to build up the SAF. It was hard work," said the 74-year-old, who led the SAF from 1974 to 1992.

"A lot of young people think we have no threats now. That's not true. The moment you let your guard down, you will have a big threat." The former officer was speaking to reporters at a dinner last night to mark the 50th anniversary of the SAF.

The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng, 47, said veterans were being invited back to army camps to share their experiences. "These are poignant lessons of history that will imbue in our young soldiers a sense of responsibility," he said.

The SAF has also made a difference beyond Singapore. It sent 38 servicemen to Nepal for relief efforts after the April 25 earthquake.

Senior Warrant Officer Selvanathan Selvarajoo, 52, said it is through such efforts that "we build stronger friendships, and I think that is an important role of the SAF".

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