PM Lee recalls 2004 tsunami, stresses need to be prepared

PM Lee recalls 2004 tsunami, stresses need to be prepared
Second Minister for Defence Mr Chan Chun Sing meets Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla at the Aceh Tsunami Commemoration Event to commemorate the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on Dec 26, 2014.

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned that natural calamities such as the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami would happen again, and stressed the need to be prepared to face them.

In a Facebook post today, PM Lee recalled visiting Banda Aceh and Meulaboh in Indonesia, days after the disaster that took the lives of over 200,000 people and affected 14 countries across two continents.

"I was overwhelmed by the extensive damage. But despite the trauma, grief and uncertainty, the survivors were determined to recover and not give up," he wrote, adding that a decade later, many of the destroyed areas are bustling again, and the survivors have rebuilt their lives.

"The tsunami shows starkly how fragile and uncertain human life is, and how resilient and united we must be in the face of adversity," PM Lee wrote.

Meanwhile, Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Chan Chun Sing represented Singapore at the Aceh Tsunami Commemoration Event in Banda Aceh, Indonesia today.

Mr Chan, who is also Second Minister for Defence, interacted with Singapore non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives, and also met with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and other senior Indonesian officials during the commemoration.

On the sidelines of the event, Mr Chan said, "Singapore and Indonesia are close neighbours. We always stand ready to help each other in times of need."

From Dec 28, 2004 to Feb 25, 2005, the SAF deployed about 1,200 personnel to affected areas in Indonesia. In addition, three Republic of Singapore Navy Landing Ships Tank transported more than 150 pallets and crates of relief supplies and equipment.

20 Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft also flew more than 600 sorties, and transported about 500 tonnes of supplies and equipment.

Following the immediate post-disaster relief period, the Singapore Government, together with NGOs and fellow Singaporeans, contributed in various reconstruction projects in Aceh, such as the construction of the Meulaboh pier and the refurbishment of the Meulaboh General Hospital.

Mr Chan said that the SAF and the Indonesian National Defence Forces (TNI) were able to carry out their missions quickly and seamlessly because of the long-standing special relationship between the two militaries at all levels.

"This relationship was built up over many years of close cooperation, regular exchanges and bilateral training," he added.

Mr Chan was accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the SAF.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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