Sunday 20 May 2012

Strong defence essential for continued survival: Lee Kuan Yew at Temasek Society 30th Anniversary dinner dialogue

AsiaOne, 19 May 2012

Speaking at a dinner dialogue, Former Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew stressed that without a strong army, there would be no economic future or security for Singaporeans.

He was speaking to senior Ministry of Defence officials and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officers at the Shangri-La Hotel during the Temasek Society 30th Anniversary dinner dialogue hosted by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen.

The theme of the dialogue was "Security Challenges for Singapore".

During the dialogue, Mr Lee shared his insights on how despite great odds, Singapore has built up the SAF to what it is today from almost nothing.

He also reminded officers that Singapore, being a small state, will always need a strong defence to ensure its continued survival.

Mr Lee said: "From the day we started, I knew that we needed a strong SAF, and I believe that still remains today."

"I think the SAF has done better than I hoped. That was because the generation that grew up, knew the stakes that were involved," he said.

Mr Lee highlighted that the 3rd Generation SAF was now technologically advanced, respected and fully capable of meeting Singapore's defence needs. In addition, National Service is now widely accepted by Singaporeans.

He said that the success of SAF is due to the Government's readiness to spend on defence needs over many years, to build a strong and capable SAF as the ultimate guarantor of the country's security and independence.

He added that going forward, Singapore will continue to invest in the SAF to attract top calibre people with capabilities to handle the complex and uncertain security challenges that Singapore will encounter in the future.

Highlighting the key challenge facing Singapore, Mr Lee spoke about the serious problem of a shrinking demographic, which will impact not only Singapore's economic future, but also its security.

The dinner dialogue was also attended by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Temasek Society is a forum for SAF officers and civilians to discuss strategic and professional military issues.

At the end of the dialogue, Dr Ng and Lieutenant General Neo Kian Hong, presented Mr Lee with an SM1 tank model as a memento.

This is as Mr Lee was instrumental in bringing the AMX-13 tank to Singapore, which was subsequently upgraded to the SM1.

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