Why Mindef paid $26,000 for China military officer's English course

Why Mindef paid $26,000 for China military officer's English course
Soldiers from China's PLA in a training exercise.

If necessary, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) pays for language lessons for some foreign military officers who attend courses here.

This is to help them gain enough language proficiency so that they can benefit from their time here, Defence Minister  Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to a question from Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Lina Chiam, who had asked about a recent tender that had been called to provide an English-language course for a People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer.

Dr Ng said armed forces regularly hold exchange programmes, where personnel attend courses of other militaries, to bolster ties.

For instance, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officers attend staff college courses in other countries to build relationships with the armed forces of these countries and to understand their perspectives.


Noting that language proficiency is important if foreign officers were to benefit from courses conducted by the SAF here, Dr Ng said a PLA officer had required a 360-hour course, personalised, one-on-one English language course conducted by a qualified instructor.

Mindef then put out a tender on the Government's e-procurement portal, Government Electronic Business for this language course, eventually awarding the contract to the lowest offer that met the requirements, said Dr Ng.

This came to $25,900, which worked out to about $72 per hour.

Said Dr Ng: "All this was in strict compliance with Government's regulations."

This article was first published on November 6, 2014.
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