Message by Minister Lawrence Wong at SAF Day Combined Re-Dedication Ceremony (West Zone)

Jul 1, 2019 15:27

I am very happy to join you this morning to commemorate SAF Day. I am very glad to see this very strong turnout of our National Servicemen, some of our veterans from the SAF Veterans’ League, and many businesses and employers. I understand that some of the companies here are attending the SAF Re-Dedication Ceremony for the first time. The good turnout from the chamber, trade associations and employers testifies to the strong commitment and dedication that all of you have towards the defence of our nation. 

2019 is a significant milestone for Singapore because it is our Bicentennial Year. But our Singapore story goes back further than 200 years; it can be traced back to the 14th Century – some 700 years ago. Through this long arc of history, Singapore has been through our share of ups and downs. If you look at the history of Singapore, we have seen the rise and fall of empires; and we have been through depression and wars. Fortunately, we have done well for ourselves in the more than 50 years since our independence. We have managed to transform Singapore in a very short time, from a third world country to a first world country; from mudflat to metropolis. The challenge for all of us is how to keep this going for as long as we can, how to keep the Singapore success sustained for as long as we can, despite our being a little red dot in an uncertain world.  

We should be under no illusion – this is a very grave period for the world. And we should brace ourselves for more uncertainty and volatility in the external environment. I think that should not come as any surprise to anyone reading the news these days – there are dangerous forces at work around us, and many things can go wrong. There are tensions between the major powers, notwithstanding what we have seen over the weekend and some of the positive news that you have read. You know that the underlying and fundamental issues between the major powers have not been resolved, and will take a long time to resolve. These tensions can lead to rivalry and conflict, and undermine the multi-lateral world order we have today.

There is risk of cross-border disputes and frictions escalating into bigger storms; there is still the threat of global terrorism and low-intensity conflicts that seek to undermine our cohesion and way of life. As a small open country, we will never be fully insulated from what happens elsewhere; neither do we have full control of events that can happen here. We have to operate under the assumption that the world is a dangerous place, and all of us must do our part to try to make it less dangerous for ourselves.

And this is why the SAF is so important to our continued peace and prosperity. We have had the good fortune not to fight a war since NS started in 1967. But it is not just a matter of luck. Deterrence is credible and it has worked.

The SAF today is a modern and effective fighting force – well-trained, well-equipped and taken seriously by everyone. This is the result of the collective contribution made by every regular and every NSmen. Our soldiers are ready to serve and when the time comes, ready to fight. It is this fighting spirit and commitment that makes the difference.  

This morning, I want to pay tribute to all our national servicemen who have contributed selflessly to the defence of our nation and contributed to the SAF we have today. 

I would also like to thank the families and employers for your support for our NSmen. Without your support, our NSmen would not be able to focus on their training and operational duties. Our NSmen have made a difference to the defence and security of Singapore, because you have made a difference in their personal and working lives. All of us have to do our part for Total Defence.   

In conclusion, Singapore is better defended now than we have been in the past. I think all of us can say that with confidence. But to keep Singapore going and to ensure our future success, we must continue to strengthen the SAF and National Service as a cornerstone of our defence. That is a commitment that all of us must make, whether as an NSmen, an employer or a family member. Our contributions together will ensure that Singapore remains safe, secure and successful for many years to come.

On that note, thank you very much and Happy SAF Day!