Festivities to mark SAF's golden jubilee

Festivities to mark SAF's golden jubilee
Madam Teo Ker Tee, with son Yeo Seck Cheong, 43, and grandson Yeo Wei Jie, pose with an old picture of Block 17 at Central Manpower Base, Dempsey. Madam Teo has seen her son and five grandsons report for national service since 1980.

THE Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is pitching in to celebrate the nation's 50th birthday by launching year-long festivities to commemorate its own golden jubilee.

These include a public exhibition and SAF50 book launch, as well as an open house at the Istana. The events aim to celebrate the SAF's identity and heritage, since it was formed on Aug 9, 1965.

Anchored on the theme, "Our SAF: Giving Strength to our Nation", they are also aimed at paying tribute to servicemen past and present, as well as the public, who have supported the SAF.

Colonel Roland Ng, who is co-organising the SAF's birthday bash, said that while many government agencies, firms and community groups are already doing something to mark Aug 9, very few can "claim that they started the journey together with Singapore".

Col Ng, the director of the Defence Ministry's Total Defence and National Education department Nexus, added: "So every step of the way, the SAF has been with Singapore."

The SAF celebrations kick off on Feb 12, with the SAF50@Vivo exhibition to be held at VivoCity mall.

The four-day show, which will be opened by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, will showcase military equipment from the army, navy and air force.

There will also be tours onboard a Republic of Singapore Navy landing ship tank and joyrides in the fast craft utility boat to the Southern Islands.

Organisers will then take the exhibition to the heartland until September.

Other staples on the SAF calendar, like the annual SAF Day Parade, will also be bigger than usual.

A key feature in the exhibition and SAF jubilee celebrations will be 70 stories about the SAF and the people who built it. These will be told through exhibition panels, pictures and videos.

Some tell of how the SAF is portrayed in pop culture and describe its drive for modernisation.

Many stories will also be condensed in a commemorative book to be launched in July.

Besides charting how far the SAF has come, Col Ng hopes that the stories will inspire the younger generation and strengthen their support for national service.

Noting that the SAF is an "integral part" of people's lives, Col Ng said: "If you want to know more about Singapore and Singapore stories, then going through the SAF stories is another window, another aspect which you can get to know."

Madam Teo Ker Tee, 81, who has seen her son and five grandsons report for national service since 1980, said: "I can only support them by listening to them and cooking their favourite food to motivate them."

Her youngest grandson Yeo Wei Jie, 21, a second-lieutenant who will complete his full-time stint by June, said: "It may be a small thing but her efforts have helped me pull through and cope with NS."

jermync@sph.com.s


This article was first published on Jan 23, 2015.
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